Evidence of meeting #51 for Health in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was health.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Heather Chappell  Director, Cancer Control Policy, Canadian Cancer Society
  • Rob Cunningham  Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society
  • Eleanor White  President, Canadian Chiropractic Association
  • Garth Whyte  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
  • Joyce Reynolds  Executive Vice-President, Government Affairs, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
  • Stéphanie Côté  Dietitian, Public nutrition and communication/media, Nutrition reference centre of Université de Montréal, NUTRIUM
  • Barbara Kaminsky  Chair, BC Healthy Living Alliance
  • Mary Collins  Director of the Secretariat, BC Healthy Living Alliance
  • John Tucker  Director, Government and Interprofessional Relations, Canadian Chiropractic Association

4:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Garth Whyte

I realize that.

But this is the thing. It's very difficult. It's very difficult to measure. What we're doing is putting it out there as a document, which is, by the way, endorsed by government, to help educate people.

It leads to the fourth plank of what we're trying to do with sodium: evaluating and monitoring take-up and doing proper research on how much has been done to lower sodium levels.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Tim Uppal

Thank you.

We'll now have Ms. Hughes.

February 17th, 2011 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Thank you.

I'd like to pose questions to Ms. Chappell and Mr. Cunningham.

You mentioned tobacco. We know how important the education part of it is. We know how important it is to have the packaging actually changed. We had to fight with the government to change that packaging. I'm just wondering, for you, how important it was to change the packaging.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society

Rob Cunningham

I think what's been announced by the minister is very significant. It's a public health gain, and it's going to reduce smoking. It will be the best, or among the best, overall package warning systems in the world. Increasing the size increases the impact. A picture says a thousand words. It's going to reduce smoking. We're very pleased with the announcement.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

We know you want the strategy itself to be continued. It's about to expire in March, right? You talked about the importance of a social media campaign and of continuing it. Maybe you could expand on your vision and whether what's there currently is working very well or whether it needs to be expanded.

You also touched on aboriginals and additional initiatives needed. I'm wondering if you could elaborate on the additional initiatives needed.

I can tell you that over a year ago I went to Nunavut, and I was extremely alarmed to see a basketball team outside smoking. Every one of those kids was smoking, and they didn't look like they were older than 13.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society

Rob Cunningham

We're very concerned about the high youth rates for smoking in the aboriginal population, whether it's first nations or Inuit. I think in terms of both policy and programming, there is potential. First nations governments have jurisdiction to enact laws, which is not being used. I think there should be some awareness and assistance and technical support, whether it's for smoke-free territories, for controlling retail displays, which are often not applied in terms of provincial legislation, or for contraband issues. Aboriginal kids are becoming addicted.

In terms of the overall strategy, continued education and legislation for Canada as a whole would help it make progress.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

On that note, I don't know if you'd have “smoke-free” in the territories themselves or on the first nations reserves, because that would single them out.

Often you drive by and see “Cheap smokes” or.... I'm wondering if you are actually in conversation with the first nations at this point about....

4:20 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society

Rob Cunningham

We have been engaged in consultations on solutions as recently as a few weeks ago, because it's very much an aboriginal health issue. It's a health issue for Canada as a whole. It's a revenue issue for governments. We need to find solutions.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I have another question. We were extremely disturbed to hear that the sodium working group was actually disbanded. I'm wondering if you could advise me, Mrs. Reynolds and Mr. Whyte, as to whether you had anything to do with lobbying the government and saying that we've done all we can, that's it, we don't really need this group.

4:20 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Government Affairs, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Joyce Reynolds

Sure, I'd be happy to answer that question.

We were represented on the group. We understood when we joined the group that the mandate was to develop a sodium reduction strategy, which is what the group did. It was a huge undertaking. It took up a huge amount of the time of the representative from our association. We weren't expecting.... We thought that after the report was delivered, that was going to be it.

I was very concerned. In fact, I wrote a letter to the editor about the Carly Weeks' article in the Globe and Mail that insinuated that the brakes have been put on the sodium reduction strategy with the dissolution of the task force.

I had all kinds of calls from my members asking what was going on, and I said that nothing had changed. We're still implementing the strategy. Nothing has changed in terms of the implementation of the strategy. The FRAC committee is now the advisory body.

There were also suggestions in the paper that it was dominated by industry. Two out of the nineteen members of the FRAC are from industry.

I think members of this committee need to be reassured that the sodium working group strategy is moving ahead. There is a huge amount of effort going into implementing that strategy.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I appreciate the fact it's moving ahead. I think there's more than just the strategy here. The issue is to find out whether or not the strategy is working. That's why I think it would have been interesting to ensure that group remained in place.

Ms. Collins and Ms. Kaminsky, you talked about taxation. I have some thoughts on that. By taxing these products, where would you see this taxation money go? Would it be targeted to a specific area, like education or prevention?

4:25 p.m.

Chair, BC Healthy Living Alliance

Barbara Kaminsky

We understand that most governments are not in favour of targeted taxation, whereby the revenues are targeted to specific programs. We understand that point of view, but ideally you would be able to use those dollars for education programs, because this is something people will need to be able to better accept the tax increase. So the education, the information you would have available to the public, would be a huge benefit. But as I say, we do understand that it's difficult for governments to accept that sort of targeting.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Today, a few people mentioned restricting the marketing. We know that has been successful in Quebec. I'm just wondering if you could give us some more guidance with respect to where we should be improving. I know you talked about the TV ads and the custom labels. There are the schools, the grocery stores, and you talked about having the labelling on the front of the product as well. I just want to know what you have done in B.C. on this—

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Tim Uppal

I'll ask you to wrap it up, Ms. Hughes, so a quick answer.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

—and has it worked so far?