House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Quite frankly, Madam Speaker, that is a very reasonable question.

In everything that we do, our first goal should always be pedagogy. My line is this. I want to teach young people not to make the mistakes I have made, to eat more healthy foods, to not give in to the immediate pleasures that unhealthy foods could give them and to not starve themselves in the process,

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all I would like to once again thank my colleague from Ottawa—Orléans for this motion.

Obesity is a chronic disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent among children and youth. Today, 26% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 are overweight or obese. Setting aside the statistics, we are dealing with children who are made to feel self-conscious by others. In addition to living with the physical problems caused by obesity, such as diabetes and respiratory difficulty, overweight children are often the targets of teasing and bullying in the street or schoolyard. The insults often leave permanent scars.

A study by Dr. Wendy Craig, a professor of psychology at Queen's University in Kingston, indicates that obese children are more often victims of abuse, which robs them of their confidence and self-esteem.

Dr. Rebecca Puhl, a professor at Yale University in Connecticut, has also studied the psychological effects of childhood obesity. In addition to affecting their self-image, abuse fuels their unhealthy eating habits and inactivity.

Childhood obesity also increases the risk of adult obesity. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, an obese 4-year-old is 20% more likely to become an obese adult. This rate increases to an alarming 80% for adolescents. Over the span of a quarter century, the rates of obesity among children and youth have almost tripled in Canada. We are now seeing children with “adult” problems such as high cholesterol, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

We must remember that the causes of obesity can be a combination of social, cultural, environmental and economic factors and that some populations are at greater risk than others. Aboriginal populations have a high rate of obesity. Approximately 20% of aboriginal children aged 6 to 14 living off-reserve are obese. And for children living on-reserve the rate is even higher—26%.

One of the causes is that it is difficult for aboriginal people to access healthy food that is affordable. For example, a litre of pop is often three times cheaper than a litre of juice or milk.

Healthy and nutritious foods—fresh fruits and vegetables, for example—are more expensive and harder to find the further away we get from large urban centres. The rate of obesity is often higher in rural areas and in the far north of Canada.

Access to nutritious food is therefore a major part of the problem. Many people cannot afford to buy these foods. Over 800,000 Canadians need to use food banks to survive and, today, over 2.5 million Canadians are affected by food insecurity.

Nevertheless, the right to food is recognized by most of the major international conventions that Canada has signed. The first of these to come to mind may be the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but there is also the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 24 of this binding treaty requires states parties to “combat disease and malnutrition...through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water”.

The situation in Canada has deteriorated to the point where the UN rapporteur on the right to food is here in Canada, and has been since Tuesday, on a mission to assess the situation. The rapporteur will consider access to healthy and affordable food for vulnerable groups such as children, aboriginal people and people in remote areas. He will examine factors such as obesity, malnutrition, and food production and distribution.

Today, junk food is everywhere and is offered at low prices by large fast food chains, while healthy, nutritious, locally produced foods are often more expensive and more difficult to find. Some elementary and secondary school cafeterias still have french fries, hot dogs and hamburgers on their menus. Some snack bars are strategically located close to schools. Young people simply have to cross the street at lunch time to get a poutine. This certainly does not help combat childhood obesity.

Physical inactivity is also an important contributing factor to the growing problem of childhood obesity. Many parents cannot afford to register their children in sports or to buy the equipment needed for these activities. In small communities, there is often not enough funding to build sports infrastructure. Even the way our cities are designed does not encourage people to be active. This motion makes it possible to continue the public debate on the critical issue of obesity. But right now, we need more than debate: we need to take action. All the experts are saying so.

Obesity is not just a health problem. It is a problem that is costly for society as a whole. A recent analysis conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada showed that the total cost of obesity is estimated to be $4.3 billion—$1.8 billion in direct health care costs and $2.5 billion in indirect costs.

There is no more time to lose. Studies, expert committees and recommendations have been piling up for years, but the government still refuses to do anything about it.

This motion is based on the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion signed by federal, provincial and territorial health ministers, and on the framework for action on curbing childhood obesity. The declaration states that population health depends on environmental, social, economic and cultural factors in society. We need measures to tackle the social and environmental conditions I have just described: taking into account remoteness, the price of food, the need for infrastructure that supports physical activity and junk food regulation, among other things.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any useful measures the government has introduced recently to address these issues. Worse still, Bill C-38 undermines all existing regulations that might help people achieve better health.

I would also like to remind the House that, in 2005, as I mentioned earlier in my question, the federal government set up a trans fat task force, which recommended limiting trans fat content to 2% of total fat content for all vegetable oils and spreadable margarines, and 5% for all other foods.

In 2007, the government agreed to all of the recommendations and gave the industry two years to voluntarily reduce trans fat content in its food products. Some companies took action, while others did nothing. In 2009, the Minister of Health, the current Conservative minister, promised to take further action, but we learned recently that the plan to draft regulations was aborted. In February, a research centre obtained documents under the Access to Information Act showing that in 2010, the minister ordered the regulatory plan scrapped.

Why? Such measures would have helped fight child poverty. That was one of the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Health in 2007 when it studied the issue. The committee also recommended establishing childhood obesity reduction targets to bring the obesity rate down to 6% by 2020. The committee also recommended implementing measures with the first nations to address problems of access to food.

All of these measures could make a real difference in the fight against childhood obesity.

The NDP has always pushed for regulations governing trans fat content in foods. In 2004, the member for Winnipeg Centre introduced a private member's bill that was adopted unanimously.

Another group of experts, who studied sodium in processed foods, also made recommendations to the minister two years ago. We know that high sodium intake is a significant risk factor for high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. The working group recommended an annual reduction of 5% in sodium intake until 2016.

Guess what? The government decided to disband the working group. In December 2010, the minister said that she no longer needed the group. We do not know what strategy the government will adopt with respect to reducing sodium in food.

One member of the group, who is also the national coordinator of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, had this to say:

What is worrisome, is not just that the group was dismantled, but that the minister has remained silent about the future of our recommendations. This suggests that the department is not on the same page as the group's experts.

So why is this government afraid of experts, researchers and scientific facts? Why set up working groups on trans fats, sodium, the environment, the F-35s and others, and then dismantle all these groups and reject all their recommendations? Is this government protecting the interests of some—industry, to name just one—to the detriment of all Canadians?

In short, with regard to what we are discussing today—childhood obesity—I will support the hon. member's motion, but at the same time, I would like to remind the House that, although the causes of obesity are complex, we know what can be done to tackle this issue. The time for debate and discussion is over: it is time for action.

I hope this government will take the action necessary to combat childhood obesity in order to protect children's health today and in the years to come, and will take into account the recommendations by the expert panels that it put in place itself.

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate. I would like to thank the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans for bringing this issue to the attention of the House of Commons so that we could have this important discussion.

I am very happy to have an opportunity to participate in this debate around childhood obesity, something that is, unfortunately, a problem for too many Canadian families. It is an issue that was included as part of the health committee's 2011-12 study on health, health promotion and disease prevention.

The Standing Committee on Health also tabled a report on obesity in 2007 that called for a public awareness campaign, simple label packaging and the removal of transfats from the Canadian diet.

Those of us who are parents know the challenges of raising children in an age where kids are more interested in playing video games than in going outside to play catch, or street hockey, or ride their bikes. I am pleased to say that tomorrow I will be out with my 15-year-old son and his venturers company, as it is called, cycling in the St. Margaret's Bay area, partly in the riding of my colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's and partly in the Halifax West riding. I am looking forward to that. However, I know what a challenge it is for all parents to get their kids away from their Game Boys, their XBoxes--

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

CPAC.

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

May 11th, 2012 / 1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

CPAC, as my friend says. It is not too difficult to get them away from watching CPAC. That seems to be pretty easy. That is a pretty quick channel click it seems to me, as it is for many people, but, hopefully not too many at this very second, although we have to expect some of that too.

There are also plenty of statistics to back up what we know about obesity and they do not paint a very nice picture. However, I believe most of us are familiar with these very shocking statistics. Children age 2 to 17 have an obesity rate of 26% today. That is up from 15% in 1979. That is an enormous and scary increase. Youth age 12 to 17 have a much higher rate of obesity these days. First nations children and youth off reserve have a combined obesity rate of 41%. Sadly, the statistics in Nova Scotia are no better. Approximately one in three Nova Scotian children between the ages of 2 and 17 are overweight or obese. Of course, as recent studies have noted, this is tough on parents. Parents worry about this, as we should.

The studies indicate that approximately one-third of normal weight 20-year-olds will become overweight within eight years. If the trend continues, in 20 years we can expect 70% of 35 to 44-year-olds in Canada to be overweight or obese versus 57% who are currently overweight or obese. That is an enormous change and we should be concerned about it.

There are significant economic costs for Canada as a result of obesity. We ought to reflect on what this means for life expectancy. We have the government saying that it needs to increase the age for receiving the old age supplement because people will be living so much longer. That flies in the face of what we are talking about and what my hon. colleague from Ottawa—Orléans has said about this very issue. He has talked about the increase in diabetes, osteoarthritis, pancreatic cancer and a whole range of other ailments and diseases. I think he would agree with me that we can expect that all of this, along with the increases I have talked about that are foreseen in obesity, overall, at this point at least, will have, unfortunately, a negative impact on the life expectancy of Canadians.

That is something that surely the government ought not to be ignoring when it is looking at what it is doing, put aside the fact entirely that there is no basis for what it is doing anyway. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, the OECD and the government's own experts are saying that there is no need, that our old age security system is economically sustainable.

The government will use all kinds of inflated numbers ignoring the fact that inflation will change the value of our dollar. It kind of treats it as if a 2012 dollar will be the same as a 2032 dollar. We know, for example, that a 1980 dollar is not the same thing as a 2012 dollar.

Inflation changes what that means. One has to find a way to look at this and say what it will cost in today's dollars, which of course makes it a lot less dramatic than the picture the government paints.

In 2001 the direct and indirect costs associated with obesity were estimated at $4.3 billion, so this is a really big problem economically as well as health-wise and socially for our country.

I think we can all agree we need to build on and support existing initiatives. For example, there are provincial strategies such as the active kids, healthy kids and healthy eating strategy in Nova Scotia. We should be focusing on policies such as food and nutrition policies for public schools and regulated child care settings to make sure people are getting the nutrition they need.

We have all experienced the challenge of finding a place to eat a healthy meal out or buy a healthy snack. An awful lot of what we see offered in a lot of places is certainly not healthy and tends to help make us obese.

I think most of us have been guilty sometimes of not eating as well as we should. I sometimes say that I am on the Y diet: I only eat sweets on days that end in "y". I hope my wife is not listening, because she is really tired of that joke. It is a good thing I exercise a lot; otherwise, I would be feeling the effects of that diet. I try not to overdo it and I eat lots of vegetables too.

It is hard for a person with a nice-looking oatmeal chocolate chip cookie or brownie in front of them not to want to enjoy it and to choose instead to have a piece of celery or broccoli, as they ought to do. If we are talking about desserts, of course we they should choose some fruit. Most of us do not do enough of that. We need to make those choices more often and be good examples for our young people.

Marketing strategies and food companies have researched every aspect of how to entice adults and kids alike from biological, psychological and physiological perspectives, from all those levels that go deeper than just the basic conscious decision of whether to choose one thing or another and whether to indulge or resist. I do not blame companies for doing that, but we have to make difficult choices. It is hard, but I understand they are out to sell their products and are doing so in very clever ways. I think we have to be aware of those things. Perhaps the most important thing is understanding the impact of advertising on us and the kinds of messaging being used.

Nova Scotia families need resources and information in this fashion to provide their children and families with healthy meals and snacks and to make those right decisions.

It is not surprising that I support many of the measures proposed in this motion. We must encourage discussion to remedy the factors that contribute to obesity, such as the social and physical environment and the lack of physical activity.

We need to do more when it comes to the promotion of and access to nutritious food. We must encourage individuals and organizations to commit to participating in the promotion of a healthy weight by exercising. Frankly, I think it is important for MPs to be seen out getting exercise.

Of course, the federal government must continue discussions with provinces, stakeholders and individuals regarding childhood obesity and addressing factors leading to this epidemic.

While this motion does not call for any new action by the federal government, I hope it will nevertheless treat it seriously and move forward on issues such as having a sodium reduction plan and regulating trans fats and energy drinks, all of which the Conservative government has refused to act on.

While I would commend the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans for bringing this motion forward, it is clear he has a lot work to do to convince his own colleagues of the merits of this motion and to convince them to take real action on what he is talking about. The government likes to talk the talk on childhood obesity and healthy living, but it refuses to walk the walk or perhaps run the run, if I may say so.

The Minister of Health refuses to regulate the amount of trans fats in foods despite the evidence showing that the voluntary system is not working, for example, the drug shortage reporting system. She has failed to move forward on a sodium reduction strategy, et cetera. There is quite a way to go.

I do thank my hon. colleague for bringing the motion forward.

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak in support of Motion No. 319, put forward by my hon. colleague, the member for Ottawa—Orléans.

This is an issue which I feel passionately about due to my work as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and as an advocate for children and youth. “Reaching for the Top”, published in 2008, really focused on these issues.

Good public policy is not about ignoring issues when they exist. Good public policy is about taking a look at what is really going on and then taking action to address the root causes of these issues.

The motion is about taking action. I commend my colleague for bringing it forward. The motion calls on the government to continue promoting and maintaining healthy weights for children and youth through a number of means, including continuing dialogue with all sectors of society, encouraging discussions about the factors that lead to obesity, encouraging Canadians and organizations to promote healthy weight for children, and building on the federal, provincial and territorial framework for action to promote healthy weight.

Rates of obesity among Canadian children and youth have tripled in the last 25 years. More than one in four children are now overweight or obese, and rates are even higher among aboriginal populations.

The costs of these trends are high. Obesity is strongly linked to high rates of type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Even more concerning, children and youth are being increasingly diagnosed in places like my clinic with what have been traditionally known as solely adult diseases.

These trends translate into direct costs for our health care system and put an ever increasing burden on the provincial health care systems.

In 2006 obesity-related chronic illnesses accounted for over $7 billion in direct and indirect costs. This figure is likely an underestimate of the true impact.

Being obese and overweight also has a huge impact on Canadians, particularly children and youth. That is why addressing these risk factors early is a large part of the solution.

The strength of Motion No. 319 is its acknowledgement of the important foundational work we have already done to tackle this issue. The government has taken action.

Two key milestones will guide future work on childhood obesity. These milestones were endorsed by federal, provincial and territorial health ministers in 2010, followed by ministers responsible for sports, physical activity and recreation in 2011.

The first milestone is the declaration on prevention and promotion. This declaration is a statement of the ministers' vision to work together across all sectors to promote healthy living. At the same time, the declaration makes disease, disability and injury prevention priorities for action.

The second milestone is on curbing childhood obesity, a federal, provincial and territorial framework for action to promote healthy weights. Through this framework Canada's ministers of health agreed to make childhood obesity a collective priority and to focus efforts on three pillars. The first is to make the environment where children live, learn and play more supportive of physical activity and healthy eating. The second is to identify the risks of obesity in children and address them early. The third is to increase the availability and accessibility of nutritious foods.

This framework is strongly rooted in results. Ministers have committed to measuring and reporting the collective progress, thus ensuring value for dollars spent and public accountability.

Reversing childhood obesity trends is an important focus that requires action from all sectors of society, including governments, industry, communities, families and individuals. The task of organizations such as the Sandbox Project and others across the country is to focus on bringing these sectors together to provide leadership in this area.

Consistent with the motion, the Government of Canada has been a leader and a catalyst in moving the dialogue forward among these groups. This is critical because this dialogue identifies the actions that are required to promote healthy weights.

Moving forward, we will continue building on these successes while fostering collaboration and continued dialogue across all sectors. One thing we have already learned from these cross-sectoral discussions is the profound impact that social and physical environments have on healthy weights.

By promoting healthy eating and physical activity early on and in places where children live, learn and play, we can reduce the risk of childhood obesity in the future.

In keeping with this motion, the government is involved in a number of cross-sectoral initiatives that target these environments and support children in learning important lifelong healthy habits.

Currently federal, provincial and territorial governments are collaborating through the Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health to support comprehensive school health programs. These programs provide a supportive school environment for healthier eating, increased physical activity and healthier weights among children and youth. We have contributed to these projects aimed at getting more families walking and wheeling to and from school by bringing together community stakeholders to identify barriers to active transport.

Families and communities play an essential role in supporting the attainment of healthy weights for children and youth. To this end, the Government of Canada has made major investments in communities and families to support healthier lifestyles and increased physical activity.

One of these examples is the children's fitness tax credit, an initiative that I was proud to chair the expert panel for, which encourages parents to get their children out and active and to participate in sports and programs. This tax initiative offsets those costs. This model initiative has since been emulated by several provinces and territories that have introduced similar tax credits to get children off of the PlayStation and onto the playground.

The government supports the development of community spaces and activities. Through its recreational infrastructure Canada program, we have given funding to municipalities across Canada to improve and develop sports and recreational facilities. In turn, these facilities provide Canadian families with the benefits of community-based physical activity.

Through ParticipACTION, a national leader in physical activity and sports participation in Canada, we promoted healthier lifestyles for Canadians through physical activity and sport. Participaction works with partners in the not-for-profit, public and private sectors on a range of campaigns, tool kits and knowledge exchange initiatives to inspire Canadians to become more physically active. I am sure everyone in the House remembers doing the flexed-arm hang and other running activities in order to get out and active.

Consistent with the motion, the government has also developed a number of tools that provide Canadians with the information they need to make healthier choices around physical activity and healthy eating. For example, the Get Active tip sheets help Canadians incorporate regular physical activity into their lifestyles, while the Eat Well and Be Active tool kit supports the health and educational sectors to teach children and adults about healthy lifestyles.

Healthy weights is a theme for a number of the government's community-based initiatives, the Canadian diabetes strategy being among them. As well, we have the aboriginal diabetes initiative, the nutrition north Canada program, the Canada prenatal nutrition program, aboriginal head start, the healthy living fund and the innovation strategy for healthier weights.

As well, the community action programs for children are serving vulnerable Canadian children across the country and their families by supporting and promoting healthier lifestyles, including risk awareness for factors of unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

These are all steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done. When tackling obesity, it is essential to identify challenges early so that children and families have the support they need.

A key component is the federal, provincial and territorial framework for action to promote healthy weights, which is supported by Motion No. 319. It will ensure this information is in place and accessible to decision-makers. To this end, we are investing in understanding trends and filling knowledge gaps.

Through Statistics Canada's Canadian community health survey and the Canadian health measures survey, we have access to information about the healthy behaviours and health outcomes of Canadian children. Canada also funds the national portion of an international survey on the health behaviours of school-aged children. This survey compares the health and health-related behaviours, including physical activity, of young people in 43 jurisdictions, which helps improve our understanding of physical activity levels by providing comparable international figures. Data from these surveys, along with other measures, help us determine the effectiveness of our actions.

In addition, our government has invested in obesity-related research. Through CIHR and its Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, we have invested over $34 million in 2010-11 alone. This research will help build our knowledge and understanding of obesity and support communities in addressing the challenges in improving health across the country.

I know that in my community of Simcoe—Grey, the YMCA in Collingwood and the physical activity teachers in Collingwood Collegiate Institute, Jean Vanier High School and the Banting Memorial High School all benefit from this research.

Under the federal, territorial and provincial framework, we have continued working with partners to gather information on obesity trends and to track the progress of actions taken by health educators, by the recreation sector and by all levels of government. These include reporting to Canadians on key indicators that track trends and factors contributing to childhood obesity. Canada's ministers of health will report every two years on the progress of this work.

I want to commend this member and the government for the action they are taking in this area. It recognizes the importance of encouraging physical activity as a key to reducing the risks of obesity and chronic illness in Canada's children and youth. Though much groundwork has been laid, more needs to be done to curb childhood obesity and to help children and youth attain a healthy weight. This requires a collaborative effort over time.

The motion before us recognizes the essential elements to this path, the importance of collaboration and dialogue across all sectors, the role we all have in creating healthy environments and supporting healthy weight, and the need to continue building on the foundational components put in place by the federal–provincial–territorial framework. By this motion, we can advance continued discussions and actions in the promotion of—

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I regret the hon. member's time has lapsed.

The hon. member for Beaches—East York. I should let him know ahead of time that I will have to interrupt him at 2:15 p.m.

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, I am rising today in support of M-319. I must tell members and my colleague from Ottawa—Orléans that my support for this motion is tepid. It is tepid because the motion itself is tepid. I support the motion only because it is better than nothing and the issue of childhood obesity requires a response, and an urgent one at that.

Knowledge of something that creates harm creates an onus on us to respond. That is not just a principle of health promotion or disease prevention. It is just a principle and it is a principle from which we cannot waiver, a principle that is imperative to follow. When those who are being harmed are unable to protect themselves, such as with the case of childhood obesity, it is of critical importance.

So here is what we know. We know that childhood obesity is an enormous problem. As of 2007-08, data indicate that one in four Canadian adults were obese, 60% of adults were overweight or obese and that is 14.1 million Canadians. Overall, 26% of kids aged two to seventeen are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity rates have nearly quadrupled in the past three decades and the rate of obesity among aboriginal children is significantly higher than it is for others. We know also that obesity in children and adults impairs health in some very serious ways. It has been suggested that 90% of type 2 diabetes, 80% of coronary disease and one-third of cancers could be prevented by healthy eating, regular exercise and non-smoking. It has been estimated that the health cost most consistently linked to obesity is about $4.6 billion to $7.1 billion annually. Those costs represent an enormous increase of estimates over just a decade earlier. Most shockingly and importantly, it is estimated that as many as 48,000 deaths per year in Canada are related to poor nutrition. The disappointing and disheartening, if not outright tragic, thing about what we know is that we have known this for a long time.

In 2007, the Standing Committee on Health presented its report entitled “Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids”. It was a report about this very subject, childhood obesity. That report begins with this very clear statement. It says, “Childhood obesity has become an 'epidemic' in Canada”. In response to the question, “How serious is the problem?”, the report says, “The committee was shocked to hear how much overweight and obesity rates among children and adolescents in Canada have increased over the past three decades”. It goes on to state, “The situation for Aboriginal children is the most alarming”.

What followed was a list of 13 recommendations. The report talked about establishing targets; establishing a comprehensive public awareness and promotional campaign, which is obviously useful; implementing mandatory, standardized, simple front-of-package labelling about nutritional values on food; establishing regulations limiting trans fats; collecting data; creating knowledge exchange; creating a research capacity and a research focus on the issue of childhood obesity; leadership mechanisms, including federal leadership of all things; assessment and reporting; evaluation; establishment of a reliable baseline to assist in the research and management of this process; the provision of standards and programs; and so very importantly, funding. The final recommendation called for new and dedicated infrastructure funding to facilitate access to varied options for children with respect to quality physical activity and healthy food choices. All of this was to be done in collaboration with provincial and territorial partners. It was such a sensible response to such a critical problem, but what happened?

I am the father of three kids. I used to be an attentive father before I got elected to this place but I still do most of the family shopping when I am home on weekends. If we were making progress on these recommendations, I dare say, as a father, I would know about it. However, it has eluded us. All we hear about are programs, et cetera, in speeches from folks on the other side of this place. The recommendations of that committee have not been acted upon, certainly not in any discernable, meaningful way. I know the government has been involved in creating the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion and Curbing Childhood Obesity but what is incumbent on us is action.

I heard my colleague from Ottawa—Orléans respond to a question earlier in the House that he always responds first with pedagogy. That is an important component, without question, but hardly a substitute for action, action based on the kinds of rigorous principles expressed in those 2007 report recommendations.

The kind of action that this motion contemplates does not at all reflect the serious nature of this issue, nor the full knowledge that we have of the causes and the outcomes, both health and financial, of childhood obesity.

In this motion my colleague proposes to continue dialogue, to encourage discussion, to encourage individuals and organizations, and to consider. It is hardly an adequate response, hardly a principled response in light of what we know about childhood obesity and its impacts on children and our health care system.

The NDP has made a call for action. It has consistently called for regulations on trans fats in foods to reduce the contribution to poor diet and to childhood obesity. A colleague of mine from the NDP caucus has introduced previously a private member's motion to regulate the level of trans fats in foods.

The NDP has consistently questioned the Minister of Health about regulation of processed foods, including why the minister cancelled the plan to lower trans fats in foods and why the minister has not listened to the call to lower sodium in foods.

We have heard today from the other side a lot about programs and steps and so on. However, as I mentioned before, I am a father to three kids, and it is important to this debate today, because if meaningful action was taking place on childhood obesity, if it was real, I would know about it as a parent.

Nutrition Among Children
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member will have three minutes left for his intervention when this motion returns to the order paper.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2:19 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:19 p.m.)