Monday, February 14, 2011

Should the Auditor General be investigating Health Canada?

So let me get this straight Health Canada.

4 years ago you commissioned an industry inclusive National Sodium Working Group who finally, after years of back and forth negotiations, managed to come up with an agreed upon series of recommendations which they published now nearly 7 months ago in their comprehensive document Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada.

And what's your response Health Canada?

To disband the Working Group itself and transfer their power over to the Food Regulatory Advisory Committee - a group with deep industry ties, and to hold more "Stakeholder" consultations with a survey and a call for input from industry ?

Um, wasn't industry part of the actual Working Group?

Given Health Canada's complete and utter disregard for the National Trans-fat Taskforce's industry inclusive recommendation that we regulate trans-fat in our food supply, a recommendation that's now nearly 4 years old, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

But here's the thing. My money and yours go to funding these Task Forces and Working Groups, and given the years of work involved in both, along with the time and expertise in researching writing and publishing their reports, I can't help but figure that the cost for the groups must be into the many millions. But those direct costs aren't the only ones taxpayers should consider and also worth considering are the costs of the increased morbidity and mortality associated with not following through with these groups' recommendations.

Personally I'd love to see an investigation into the whys and wherefores of these official governmental groups being ignored by the very government that's commissioning them - both from a political perspective in terms of pressure being brought to bear by special interest groups and in terms of money being wasted.

I also wonder whether or not there's a case now for a spouse or loved one has a case for a wrongful death lawsuit where their recently deceased partner had been eating trans-fats in restaurants Health Canada themselves have monitored and shown to be non-compliant with their call for voluntary trans-fat reduction? The case to my non-lawyer brain seems fairly straightforward. Health Canada and their Task Force have admitted that trans-fat in any amount is a risk to health, the government has demonstrated non-compliance with the voluntary call for reduction and they've failed to act both on the recommendations of the task force and their own promise of regulations were voluntary trans-fat reduction to fail.

At the very least, I sure wish they'd stop wasting my money on feel good working groups and task forces that they're clearly not planning to listen to anyhow.