John R. Harrison

John R. Harrison has had extensive experience in environmental health protection regulation and national and international health policy on natural health products, medical devices, consumer products, pesticides and environmental chemicals. He managed Health Canada’s Office of Natural Health Products in the formative years of 1999-2000.

He holds a Masters degree in population dynamics (ecology) from Carleton University and a Master’s degree in Environmental and Occupational Toxicology specializing in heavy metal toxicology from the University of San Francisco. He is also a graduate of Health Canada’s Management Development Program (1999) and is a homeopathic practitioner. He has completed a thesis for the Master Herbalist Diploma from the Dominion Herbal College in 2003 and then completed a doctorate in Natural Health, Clayton College of Natural Health in 2010.

He completed health specialist courses in Alternative Medicine (1997) from Harvard University and Botanical Medicine (2000) from Columbia University. He was involved in national and international policy and regulatory work in the Environmental Health Directorate (Safe Environment Programme, Health Canada) for many years.

For over 30 years he worked in Health Canada’s science and environmental health research-based programs in various capacities. As an environmental and occupational toxicologist in the Environmental Health Directorate, he dealt with the regulatory aspects of environmental toxic chemicals as the Head, Industrial Chemicals and Product Safety Section and managed a pesticide regulatory area as the Section Head, Pesticides Re-evaluation (Toxicology). He initiated and managed the “Safer Arts” programme of Health Canada which produced booklets, posters and informed both teachers and the public of the hazards from arts and crafts materials and how they could reduce exposure to these hazards. He has worked in areas dealing with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act related activities and he was the Research Manager, Toxic Substances Research Initiative (2000-2001) and was responsible for a $40 million dollar research contribution fund.

He was Health Canada’s international health risk expert on cyanide spills and worked on two crisis situations, one in Guyana (1995) and one in the Kyrgyz Republic (1999). He has experience in natural resource industries (mining, oil, forestry) and was senior advisor to Natural Resources Canada on the environmental management of chemical spills.

He was Transition Manager, Office of Natural Health Products (ONHP), Health Canada in 1999-2000 and, reporting to the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Health Protection Branch, Health Canada, was responsible for building the health policy, regulatory and research team, dialoguing with the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to develop a common research grant system for natural health products, developing a strategic plan for dealing with the House of Commons Standing Committee on health policy and regulatory recommendations for this area and preparing the administrative, policy and science regulatory plans to move the Office of Natural Health Products forward.

He was actively involved in the health policy program of the Office of Natural Health Products in the development of the Expert Advisory Committee for the ONHP, and the Health Minister’s Transition Team work. He directed and participated in the health policy and regulatory work of the ONHP in the initial development of the Natural Health Products regulations in 1999. This was extensive policy and regulatory work done at a critical time in the establishment of the ONHP.

He was part of the Health Canada delegation to the International (Tripartite-US/ Canada/ Mexico) policy and legislative meetings in 2000 and actively contributed to these meetings as well as accepted the task of becoming a member of an International regulatory group on Natural Health Products in 2000.

He has authored many scientific and research publications as well as dozens of health related reports. He is a member of the Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada.

He represented Health Canada in OECD regulatory committee work on pesticide regulation in Paris, France and on medical device regulatory work concerning international Mutual Recognition Agreements at EU committee meetings in Brussels, Belgium. Regulatory research was a significant component in these examples of international regulatory work.

Other science policy and research management roles he had while in Health Canada were the following; Assistant Director, Bureau of Chemical Hazards, Associate Director, Medical Devices Bureau, Associate Director, Program Evaluation Bureau, Environmental Health Directorate. This latter Bureau was focused on environmental health policy. As Assistant Director, Bureau of Chemical Hazards he was responsible for the preparation of policy planning, coordinating the scientific and policy planning of the environmental research components for Health Canada.

John is currently a Research Associate with the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.


Educational Qualifications


Additional Education

Post-graduate Courses in Alternative Medicine, Risk Assessment, Cost Benefit Analysis at Harvard, Botanical Medicine at Columbia, Epidemiology, Industrial Toxicology at Wayne State University, Mid-America Toxicology Course at University of Kansas, Management Graduate of the Health Canada Management Development Program (1996-1999).


Employment History

(2001-present) President, JRH Toxicology
(2000-2001) Program Manager, Toxic Substances Research Initiative, Health Canada
(2000-2000) Acting Director, Research and Program Development, Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Canada.
(1999-2000) Transition Manager, Office of Natural Health Products, Health Canada.
(1998-1999) Associate Director, Bureau of Program Development, Health Canada.
(1997-1998) Associate Director, Medical Devices Bureau, Health Canada.
(1996-1997) Assistant Director, Bureau of Chemical Hazards, Health Canada.
(1995-1995) Head, Air and Waste Section, Health Canada.
(1992-1995) Head, Pesticide Re-evaluation Section, Health Canada.
(1989-1992) Head, Consumer Products Section, Health Canada.
(1971-1989) Environmental Health Toxicologist, Health Canada.


Community Involvement



Over 30 published papers in scientific and medical journals on topics in environmental toxicology, pesticides, consumer product safety, arts and crafts hazards, air quality, drinking water, major cyanide spills in the environment, natural health products and environmental contaminants. Other papers, magazine articles and reports over a large range of environmental health related topics.

A detailed listing is located in the Publications & Reports section.


Professional Affiliations