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

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I want to go back to sodium. It is my understanding that the mandate of the working group was to put the strategy in place as well as to follow it through and make sure it was working. I think there was some concern.

I don't think I actually got the answer when I asked whether there was a lobby by your organization to dismantle this program.

5 p.m.

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

Joyce Reynolds

No. We found out at the same time as all the other members of the working group that it was going to be FRAC that was going to be--

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I wasn't quite sure whether the answer you gave me was yes or no.

There is some concern. Mr. Carrie, I believe, brought up the issue of salt being on the table. Yes, the salt is on the table, but not all of us salt the same way. Unfortunately, when the food comes to my table, if it is overly salted, I can't take the salt out. That is why we had hoped, and we are hoping, that there will be a reduction. I can tell you that even here on Parliament Hill, if you ever order the pho, it is so salty you can hardly eat it. We have some concerns and some things we need to do on the Hill here.

5 p.m.

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

Joyce Reynolds

One of our challenges in the food industry—and we recognize that we have a lot of work to do to reduce the sodium in our products—is that if people's palates don't have an opportunity to adjust, they are going to be using that salt shaker more.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I don't know. You talk about the adjustment, but the industry has already made the adjustments in the United States. Yet that same cereal here has more sodium in it. I don't think my taste buds are different from an American's. If you give me the box of cereal that comes from the United States, I won't notice the difference.

5 p.m.

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

Joyce Reynolds

I think you'll find that where there are anomalies, in terms of products that have high sodium levels, those are going to be brought in line.

These targets are very aggressive. And the taste profiles are going to change, there's no question about it, to me, in order to meet those targets. Canadians have to understand why they have to adjust. That's critical.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Well, I think if that's all that's there, they'll adjust.

I want to do a very quick follow-up, because Mr. Norlock actually mentioned something a while ago about the sodium-free soup that his wife would bring his hand down to. I'm just trying to get some sense, because if you—

5 p.m.

A voice

[Inaudible—Editor].

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Well, that's a decision you need to make.

However, first nations people and people in poverty can't go and buy that can of soup because it's too damn expensive. It's much more expensive than the regular can of soup.

I'm just wondering, because this is a big issue. And we hear this over and over again, that the choice is out there. For some people it's not a choice because they just don't have the money to pay that extra dollar.

5 p.m.

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

Joyce Reynolds

I can't speak on behalf of packaged goods, but I can say that the reformulation is going to result in the use of ingredients that are going to be more expensive. There's no question that this is going to have an inflationary effect on the cost of food once the transformation of the food supply happens as a result of the sodium reduction targets.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Tim Uppal

Thank you, Ms. Reynolds.

Ms. O'Neill-Gordon.

February 17th, 2011 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Again, I want to welcome all the witnesses, and thank you for your great presentation.

My question is this. As we all know, we are constantly raising awareness of the bad effects from sweet sugar drinks. As a teacher who has been in the cafeteria, one day you'd see people were still going to these sweet drinks, but then on another day you'd say, “Oh, well, maybe we're winning the battle”.

I'm just wondering if any of you have any idea, are we winning the battle with kids drinking fewer and fewer sweet drinks, or are we staying at the same standstill?

5 p.m.

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

Joyce Reynolds

One of our challenges, as an industry, is we'd like to do more milk promotion; we would like to put more dairy products on our menu. But quite frankly, because the cost of milk is rising far faster than the cost of production, the Canadian Dairy Commission is pricing milk right off our menus. If there's something the government can do to address that issue, we'd be thrilled.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Thank you.

Garth.

5 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Garth Whyte

Well, I was going to say that I agree with Madame Beaudin's point, in that we should talk about the good things as well as the bad things. Our industry is the R and D for healthy food. Sushi wasn't developed in a grocery store. We come out with a chef's survey of hot trends, what up-and-coming chefs are using: locally sourced foods, sustainability, organics, gluten-free food. There's a ton of things that our industry brings first, before the consumer even thinks of it. We're doing that.

We've also done public opinion surveying of why the consumer goes to our restaurants. One is that they see it as an indulgence. This is the challenge we all have. It's not because you're going out. The biggest issue is it's an indulgence—I want to go with my family, I want to go with my friends, I'm going to a restaurant to celebrate. So that's part of our challenge.

But if you can make it interesting and exciting and fun, you can get people to eat. Come to our trade show that's happening March 5, 6, and 7. Come and see all the young chefs, and just the activity that's there, the healthy food that's being provided and all the different things that are there. How do we leverage that?

I'm on the board of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. One of their fastest-growing areas—and in Quebec, in the CEGEP, pick every one of your provinces—are the culinary schools. I hope you report on that, because a lot of the R and D and exciting stuff that is happening is coming from our industry.