Empowering Women in the Natural Health Product Industry on International Women’s Day

Toronto, March 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Women who choose natural health products (NHPs) for their health and wellbeing may soon have increased costs for the products they rely on and fewer options available on store shelves. Health Canada’s proposed regulations will decimate the NHP industry, disproportionately impacting women and women-led businesses. This International Women’s Day, the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is calling on the federal government to press pause.

“NHP businesses, particularly women-led businesses, are vital in addressing women’s health needs, but they cannot shoulder the costs of Health Canada’s changes,” said Jules Gorham, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy at CHFA. “Many of these businesses will be forced to close.”

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It’s a well-known fact that women have been historically neglected in health research, and Health Canada’s latest regulatory reform on NHPs is no exception. Typically, when new regulations are considered, a gender-based analysis is conducted. Health Canada skipped this step, an oversight that fails to acknowledge the disproportionate impact on women in Canada. 

The natural health and wellness sector is predominantly comprised of small-to-medium-sized businesses, over 50% of which are women-led. But because of proposed regulations, 1 in 5 are contemplating shutting down, with many micro, small, and medium-sized businesses already leaving Canada. Instead of empowering women to drive economic growth, these changes will cause closures of businesses across the country. 

These regulations may also detrimentally affect women’s health and wellness. Women are much more likely to purchase NHPs, but Health Canada’s changes will take safe, compliant Canadian products off Canadian shelves. “What has been falsely promoted as regulations to keep Canadians safe will send more and more Canadians to the Internet where unapproved and unsafe products can be shipped right to their doorstep,” stated Gorham. “This exposes the many women who depend on NHPs to unnecessary risks.”

International Women’s Day is a critical opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we can better support and empower women, in all facets of their personal and professional lives. Recklessly pushing through these regulations will stifle the presence of women led NHP businesses in the market and put their health and wellness in jeopardy. It is imperative for the federal government to engage in meaningful dialogue with key stakeholders, consider the significant contributions of women in the NHP industry, and ensure the sustainability of this essential sector for the betterment of all Canadians.

When we all do well, Canadians live well.


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