In September 2009, the Fraser Institute (“an independent non-partisan research and educational organization based in Canada“) published the results of its detailed study on the safety of, and public trust in, natural and traditional treatments.

This report, authored by Cynthia Ramsay and entitled ‘Unnatural Regulation: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy in Canada’, clearly showed that there is no history of harm done by complementary and alternative treatments, and government regulation is unnecessary!

From the report’s Executive Summary, we find that:

“…A 2006 survey on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) found that more than one-half of Canadians had used at least one alternative therapy in the year prior to the survey, a four percentage-point increase over the rate of use in 1997 (Esmail, 2007).

The fact that more people are using NHPs and CAM—and thus more
people are exposed to the potential adverse effects of such treatments—is the
main reason given by Canadian and other governments for broadening the
regulatory framework covering these products and therapies. However, the
data do not support a public safety argument for government regulation of
either NHPs or CAM practitioners…

…Different practitioner groups are regulated differently among the provinces, and this imposes barriers to labor mobility (i.e., the ability of a practitioner trained in one province to work in another).  While recent intergovernmental and inter-professional agreements have mitigated such barriers to a certain extent, obstacles still exist. Perhaps more critically, studies of the American labor market have shown that the use of licensure is associated with about 14% higher wages (and thus higher costs for consumers) without necessarily improving patient outcomes (see, for example, Kleiner and Krueger, 2009, and Svorny, 2008).

This study examines the validity of the public safety argument for
licensing NHPs and CAM practitioners. It concludes that the cost of licensure far outweighs the benefits and recommends that:

  • The Natural Health Products Directorate be abolished and the monitoring
    of NHP safety and effectiveness be left to various nongovernmental organizations.
  • All current health practitioner licenses, including physician licenses, be
    replaced with certification, with the opportunity for various organizations
    to become certifying agencies.”

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