More transparency needed from Health Canada

Kid's pain meds secured

I have increasingly heard from parents with young children, concerned about a serious shortage of children’s pain relief medicine at local pharmacies and grocery stores.

Recently, a Kelowna resident, returning from a trip to Washington State, sent me pictures from U.S. grocery stores and asked why the same problem was not occurring there.
He asked what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was doing to resolve this problem.

While it is true the U.S. does not have this problem to the same extent asCanada, it is less clear as to the reasons why. Fortunately, early this week, Health Canada issued a statement that may help resolve the critical shortage.

Health Canada indicated it has secured a foreign supply of children’s acetaminophen that will be available in retail stores and pharmacies in the coming weeks.

The reason I suggest this “may” help resolve the shortage is because Health Canada is refusing to reveal precisely how much supply it has “secured” and where exactly in Canada it will be distributed.

After two years of very detailed drug procurement and distribution information from Health Canada during the pandemic, this sudden refusal to disclose these basic details and the lack of transparency raises serious questions and concerns. Why would this information be withheld from Canadians?

On an unrelated note, this week an investigation continued into how the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) managed to spend $54 million on the ArriveCan app after it was originally budgeted to cost $80,000.
The app is no longer mandatory for those travelling into Canada.

The CBSA was to turn over documents related to this boondoggle to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates this week, to meet a pre-established production order and deadline.
So far CBSA has declined to reveal exactly where the money went and who ended up with it.
When a committee, or the House itself, passes a production order—as was the case here—that order is equivalent to a court order and the government, elected to serve the House, must respond.

While these two situations are not directly related, they do point to a disturbing pattern. Canadians elect Members of Parliament to represent them at the federal level in Ottawa. Parents wondering what actions are being taken to rectify the critical shortage of children’s pain medication deserve to know what is being done, with significant details.

Likewise, when a federal department somehow manages to spend $54 million on an app, Canadians deserve to know where that money went and who profited from it.

These should not be considered partisan questions and Canadians deserve to have answers to these questions. Instead, we see stonewalling, excuses and a complete and total disregard for Canadians right to know basic information about how and where their money is spent.

My question this week:

Are you concerned by this growing lack of transparency, or do you view this as the official opposition sweating what you consider small and insignificant details?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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