Ms. Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia—Lambton, CPC)
moved that Bill S-214, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (cruelty-free cosmetics), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill S-214, a bill that was introduced in the Senate by Senator Stewart Olsen. The bill aims to ban cosmetic testing on animals in Canada. Bill S-214 would amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and the sale of cosmetic products developed or manufactured using animal testing. It would also ensure that no evidence from animal testing may be used to establish the safety of a cosmetic in Canada.
At present, there is long list of approved cosmetic ingredients. New scientific methods have been developed to test products on human tissue collected during surgical procedures, making animal testing obsolete.
Cosmetic animal testing has been banned since 2009 in 27 EU countries, and the sale of cosmetic products or ingredients subject to new animal testing has been illegal since March 2013. Israel imposed similar bans in 2007 and 2013, and similar policy change is also under consideration in India and South Korea.
In most other countries, cosmetic animal testing is neither expressly required nor prohibited, so cosmetics companies and ingredient suppliers decide whether they want to conduct such testing.
In a few countries, including China, cosmetic animal testing may still be a legal requirement for some ingredients and finished products.
Given the push by Health Canada to adopt a risk-based system for classifying food products, prescription drugs and cosmetics, this bill would allow ingredients for use in foods and natural health products that would not be allowed in cosmetics.
This bill originated in the Senate, and it came out of the Senate at the end of the summer session last year. It was passed unanimously in the Senate. Therefore, members can imagine my surprise when various stakeholders began to approach me and the government to indicate they could not support the bill in its existing form and that amendments would be needed in order to drive it forward. That began the process of talking to each stakeholder group and finding out about the amendments that they wanted to the bill.
As can happen, not everyone wanted the same amendments, so negotiations were undertaken to come to a consensus on what amendments should be made. We have now all come to the place where we believe we could improve the bill, and I am going to take a few moments to go through the amendments we would like to see to the bill.
The first amendment, reference to a cosmetic for human use, is intended to provide clarity to the principle that the ban is not intended to apply to products that are included in the definition of cosmetics but are for non-human use, such as pet grooming products. For example, the ban should not prevent non-invasive and non-toxicological testing of a finished product, such as a dog shampoo, on a dog to ensure its effectiveness and likeability.
The second amendment refers to the party to be held responsible for ensuring that the cosmetic products comply with the ban. This should be consistent with the regulated entities that currently have legal responsibility under the Food and Drugs Act, which are the manufacturer or the importer. It is important that the people who are producing cosmetics, producing the ingredients for cosmetics, and those who are importing, have the responsibility of making sure that they have met the requirements in Canada. In the past, there have been people who have been distributors of the product, not the manufacturer or importer, and they do not always have the necessary information. Therefore, we would hold the manufacturers and importers legally responsible to ensure that they comply with that.
To be sold legally in Canada, the cosmetic product must be filed with Health Canada by the manufacturer or importer. The cosmetic notification system provides Health Canada with a list of all products on the market and the party that is responsible for the regulatory compliance. Retailers may be the responsible parties if they are also the manufacturer or importer of record. As to a ban on conducting animal testing on finished cosmetic products, this would apply, appropriately, to a person, as the ban would be on the act of doing the testing rather than on the ability to sell the product.
Amendment number three is that it is a principle that the ban should not apply to animal testing of any substance regulated as a food, drug or device in the context of those regulatory uses under the Food and Drugs Act and associated non-cosmetic regulations. As I mentioned earlier, the government is moving away from the separate approval process that existed for food, drugs, natural health products and cosmetics, and going to a risk-based approach, which puts additional burden of proof on those things that have higher risk.
Amendment number four is that the operational details of the sales ban as they relate to reliance on new animal test data for cosmetic purposes should fit within the Canadian regulatory context in order to operate officially, as well as to align with the European Union. One of the discussions was about aligning ourselves with the European Union and the State of California in terms of what they have established to make sure that would be applicable with all of the countries that have globally agreed to the ban.
It is understood that the Minister of Health has the ultimate responsibility for the protection of public health and safety with respect to consumer products. As such, the minister should have the power to issue an exemption to the ban if the minister determines it is necessary to address a serious or imminent risk of injury to health, for the protection of human health or the safety of the public, and that there is no acceptable non-animal approach available. This gives powers to the minister, and these are powers that the minister ought to have to make sure that public safety is protected.
The minister deciding to use the power to issue an exemption gives rise to the next amendment. Public transparency and accountability are key principles with respect to regulation. As such, the public and stakeholders should be able to expect that they will be made aware when there is either a violation of the ban or the minister has exercised the authority to provide an exemption as previously outlined. Public notification should consider due process, but also be transparent and easily accessible to interested parties.
Amendment seven has to do with the principle that the ban should be on a go-forward basis and not apply to any animal testing conducted, or the use of data arising from it, prior to the ban coming into force. It is recommended that the ban come into force two years after the date of its enactment, although it is understood that Health Canada must be in a position to effectively administer the changes. There is no point in having rules that cannot be enforced, so that would have to be put in place.
When we considered the bill, there was no Conservative Party policy in this area, so there was a bit of a polarity of views: some were in favour and some had concerns about the legislation. They were concerned that people may use this legislation as a wedge to prevent other activities, like hunting, fishing, farming or going into other areas. That was a concern.
Another concern had to do with applying to countries that require animal testing in order to be approved. For example, if we want to sell in China, we have to do animal testing in order to sell the product there. We did not want to limit people from being able to participate in markets in other countries that have other requirements, so that, as well, was written into the bill.
Another question came up as to how this would impact jobs in Canada. What we typically talk about, for the purposes of this bill, are rats, mice, rabbits and some guinea pigs that have been predominantly used for the purpose of these tests in the past. There are a very small number of jobs in Canada associated with that. In fact, most of the larger cosmetic firms have already adopted this, because of its use in the other counties that I mentioned. We do not believe there will be a huge impact on jobs, but think it is something that should be looked at.
It was in December when we first came to agreement on all these different amendments and began to put them into the legalese of all the members' bills that come before the House. That activity has taken place.
Getting to this point and to the first hour of second reading has been a pleasure, but we are very close to the end of the session. It does not appear that this bill will actually be passed in this parliamentary session, because there is a polarity of views and there are some other discussions to be held. However, I feel that we have increased the amount of support on all sides of the aisle. I will be interested to hear the comments that other parties are going to make after I finish my speech, to see where they are on this bill and to see the potential to introduce this into the 43rd Parliament, which I hope to return for.
I would like to thank a lot of the stakeholders across Canada that participated in both bringing this legislation forward and with the amendments: the Animal Alliance of Canada, The Body Shop, Cosmetics Alliance Canada, Cruelty Free International, Humane Society International/Canada, and Lush fresh handmade cosmetics.
There were so many petitions from The Body Shop. That is how I became the sponsor of this bill. The Body Shop in Sarnia—Lambton approached me. They had stacks of petitions from people calling for us to support this legislation. I then found out that The Body Shops across the country were doing similar things. We have had hundreds of thousands of people sign petitions to show their support for the bill. In addition to that, the Humane Society ran a national TV campaign to raise awareness of it.
I have received emails, letters, petitions from every part of the country. There is an appetite to follow it along. Currently I believe there are 38 other countries that have now agreed to this ban. Canada would then become the 39th, if we can get this done, and it is well worth doing.
Some of the interesting things I have learned going through on this bill was about the new technology that exists that uses post-surgery human skin for testing. We do not need to do testing on animals anymore. The technology has now brought us to a place where it is time to change the legislation and catch up with the technology.
One of the members of our caucus, the very intelligent member from Kingston, asked the question on whether or not this legislation would apply in cases where animals are euthanized before the testing is done. The way the legislation is written currently, that would be okay. I am not sure whether everyone who is a stakeholder would be okay with that. There are further discussions to be held on some of those questions, and some of those things could be taken care of in the regulations.
That is my summary on Bill S-214, the bill to ban animal testing on cosmetics. I think it is a good step forward. It is a step that would align Canada to other countries in the world that are taking similar steps. There has been a significant amount of work that has gone into meeting with stakeholders, talking to Canadians, and addressing amendments and changes that are needed to make this legislation both consistent with the food, drug and cosmetic rules being changed and put in place by the government, and also to make it consistent with other places, like Europe, California and countries we do business with. That has brought us to the place where we are today, and it is a good place.
I am certainly interested to see this bill go forward. With that, I will end.
Subtopic: Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act