Cannan: Healthy lifestyle on government’s agenda

Unfortunately, the complicated language on drug labels means that there is a greater risk of taking these prescriptions incorrectly…

Our Kelowna-Lake Country riding recently had the pleasure of hosting my colleague Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who came to Kelowna to announce funding for nine innovative projects that will help children, youth and their families achieve and maintain healthier weights and healthier lifestyles in their communities.

One of the nine projects announced is Healthy Weights for Children, led by The Bridge Youth & Family Services Society.

I have shared many of your letters and e-mails with the minister and her staff about food safety, natural health products and the safety of prescription drugs and I’m glad some of you had the chance to talk to her in person while she was here.

Our mental health roundtable was particularly good.

Under Minister Aglukkaq, Health Canada plays an important role not only in preventing and reducing risks to individual health and the overall environment, but also in promoting healthier lifestyles.

It protects Canadians and facilitates the provision of products vital to the health and well-being of our citizens by regulating and approving the use of thousands of products, including consumer goods, foods, medical devices, natural health products, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and toxic substances.

A recent announcement by the Minister is a good case in point.

Millions of Canadians rely on their prescription medications to help maintain and improve their health.

Nearly two-thirds of those Canadians who are aged 65 and older take five or more types of prescriptions and given our ageing population, the number of Canadians who rely on prescription medications will only grow.

Unfortunately, the complicated language on drug labels means that there is a greater risk of taking these prescriptions incorrectly, the consequences of which can be quite harmful. It’s estimated that as many as one in nine emergency room visits are the related to drug adverse effects and that 68% of those cases are preventable.

As a part of our Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting the health and safety of Canadian families, we’re helping promote the safe use of prescription drugs by launching the Plain Language Labeling Initiative.

This initiative reflects conversations I’ve had with one of my sons-in-law who is a pharmacist.  In his view simplifying drug labelling could prevent a lot of adverse drug events.

The Plain Language Labeling Initiative will eliminate the technical and confusing language that many drug labels have. It will accomplish this by helping ensure that all important drug information is located in an easy to find location—such as a “Drug Facts” table—and is in easy to understand language.

Putting drug labels and packaging in plain language will help health professionals, patients and consumers easily find out how to use the drug, how often to take it, and when it should and should not be taken.

The Plain Language Labeling Initiative represents just one of the ways our Conservative government is helping protect the health of Canadians and their families.

Since 2006, we’ve strengthened regulations on lead in children’s toys, banned bisphenol A in baby bottles and empowered Health Canada to issue mandatory recalls for unsafe products.  In addition, we also increased the penalties for companies which violate these mandatory recalls, helping ensure that companies which break the law are made to pay the consequences.

Our government also unveiled the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan. The Action Plan was introduced to help raise the level of food and consumer protection in Canada by modernizing our safety regime.

Canada’s safety system is already one of the best in the world; however, for those businesses that behave irresponsibly, we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent problems in the first place, target the highest risk products, and respond quickly if problems do happen.

I would like to thank Minister Aglukkaq for taking the time to visit us here in the beautiful sunny Okanagan.  I look forward to working with her in her new role as the Minister of the Environment which was announced during the Cabinet shuffle earlier this month.

Thanks to the efforts of Health Canada, we can all have confidence in the rules surrounding prescription drugs, consumer products and food safety.

For those of you who would like to learn more about Health Canada, a wealth of helpful information,from how to barbecue safely to the most up to date safety alerts can be found at the department’s website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

I hope you all continue to have a healthy and safe summer.  Remember to be wise and wear your sunscreen and a hat.

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