An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (trans fatty acids)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

This bill was previously introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session.


Pat Martin  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of Sept. 29, 2011
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to amend the Food and Drugs Act to limit trans fatty acids found in oils and fats intended for human consumption to 2 g per 100 g.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2013 / 6:05 p.m.
See context


Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the motion on preventing obesity. I also wish to commend the hon. member for Burlington, who moved the motion.

I will take a moment to read the motion, so that my constituents can understand the context. It reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to: (a) recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity in Canada; (b) support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and (c) make the reduction of obesity of Canadians a public health priority.

I am very happy to read that, and I will definitely be supporting this motion. However, once again, the Conservatives are bringing forward a motion without any real teeth.

I would like to talk about the meaningful action the NDP has taken on this. The NDP has been working on this for the past 10 years or so. I would like to share some alarming figures I came across in my research on this.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, between 25% and 35% of Canadians are obese. Among children under the age of 17, about 10% are obese. The annual health-related cost is between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion. I find those figures and this situation very troubling.

I will explain what the NDP has been doing. It all started in 2004, when the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre moved a private member's motion to regulate trans fats in food. The House unanimously adopted the motion. Since then, the government has done nothing tangible with it. It has not proposed any measures.

In 2011, the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre introduced Bill C-303, to amend the Food and Drugs Act in order to limit trans fats in food to a maximum of 2 g per 100 g.

The hon. member for Vancouver East introduced Bill C-460, An Act respecting the implementation of the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada.

Roughly three weeks ago, the minister appeared before the Standing Committee on Health. I asked him the same questions. I asked him why Canada still did not have any measures to deal with trans fats. Canada does not have a national sodium reduction strategy.

I have been listening very carefully to all the speeches in the House today. The Conservatives keep talking more about physical activity than about food, which I think is too bad. Physical activity is very important, but what we eat accounts for 80% of our physical health, while exercise accounts for 20%.

This brings me to my story. The reason I wanted to speak to this bill is that I am obese. In fact, I recently found out that I am morbidly obese. The alarming thing is that roughly 75% of all obese children will remain obese for the rest of their lives. They will be obese in adulthood.

By the way, my colleague is not listening to me even though he is here in the House and this is his bill.

According to my calculations, in this House there are 40 or so obese people out of a total of 300 MPs. Despite that, the member who introduced the bill did not even take the time to consult us. I think that is a shame.

The Conservative member for Ottawa—Orléans moved Motion No. 319 to combat childhood obesity, but nothing tangible has been done. For the past hour or so, the Conservatives have been saying that their greatest achievement is the children's fitness tax credit. Parents who spend $500 to register their children for physical activity can receive a $75 tax credit per child.

I want to talk about myself some more. As my colleagues know, I have a weight problem. When I was young, I did not play any team sports. When you are big, you feel bad about yourself. It is not pleasant. Many people are bullied because of their size. When I was young, I was always picked last during gym class. I was not even able to run two kilometres when the teacher asked us to.

The Conservatives say that they are helping youth by encouraging them to get involved in sports. However, there is more to the issue than that.

The parliamentary secretary told us about his father, yet I do not think that the Conservatives really understand the situation.

Nothing in the motion I have here talks about the psychological effects of being obese. There is nothing in the motion about going to speak to youth, motivating them and helping them overcome this problem. There is nothing about giving parents the tools to help their children.

Nutrition is extremely important. It is all well and good to talk about labelling, but nothing is being done to reduce sodium or trans fats. Not everyone at the grocery store reads the little labels to see what is in their food. When I asked the minister about that, she said that we could not coddle people. This is a serious issue right now, and if we do not give those people real help, we will not solve the problem. In Canada today, there are 40% more obese people than there were 30 years ago, and that number is on the rise.

Obviously, I am going to support my colleague's motion, but I would really prefer that the member not introduce it by saying that 25% of people in his riding are obese, so the government is going to do a little something and talk about it without really implementing any practical measures. I would like this motion to go farther.

Unfortunately, all too often, the Conservatives focus on a cure rather than prevention. That is what we have seen from the beginning. Since I have been here, the government has always talked about cures. The Conservatives think that they can talk about obesity and people will miraculously lose 100 pounds. That is the feeling I get from this motion.

I wanted to talk about bullying. I have been an MP for two and a half years and not a week goes by that I do not receive an email from a constituent telling me that I am too fat to be an MP. A few months ago, someone wrote to me and told me that MPs are supposed to be models. That person added that I was about 300 pounds too heavy and that I should resign.

When someone says that to me, I certainly do not say to myself that he is right and that this morning I am going to look at the nutrition labels to keep him happy.

This motion is important. We need to take it extremely seriously. I really hope that, as a result of this motion, the Conservatives will actually implement measures to reduce obesity in our society. This is a problem I have struggled with my whole life. I struggled with it when I was young and I am still struggling with it. There is a reporter here every week talking about what the MPs are wearing. That is another thing. It is a lot more expensive to buy clothing when you are overweight. People do not realize the extent of the problem.

Since I see him every day, I would have been pleased if the member had come to ask me what I thought about his motion, whether it was good, whether it was missing anything, what could be done, and so on. We could have worked together for once.

I will stop there and end by saying that I hope that the Conservatives will not think only about sports, which are important, but also about nutrition, because I do not see them making much progress in that regard. I hope that they will also think about the impact that this has on people's lives. If we do not act now and if the Conservatives fail to make progress in this area, this problem will result in huge health costs and will have a serious impact on the motivation and self-esteem of people struggling with it.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

October 17th, 2013 / 6 p.m.
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Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 425 on preventing obesity.

First, I want to assure my Conservative colleague that the NDP will support this motion, which states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to: (a) recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity in Canada; (b) support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and (c) make the reduction of obesity of Canadians a public health priority.

No one is against virtue. The NDP cares about the health of all Canadians. That is why we focus a lot on the social determinants of health at the Standing Committee on Health.

We are always disappointed when the Conservative members refuse to allow the Standing Committee on Health to examine the social determinants of health. However, that is not what I want to talk about today.

Obesity rates have reached alarming levels in Canada. I am not sure if members are aware, but in the past 30 years, the obesity rate has nearly doubled. The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided the following statistics: in 2011, 25% to 35% of Canadian adults and nearly 10% of Canadian children were obese. That is very sad and we must take this seriously, since we are jeopardizing the lives and the health of young and not-so-young Canadians.

What the NDP finds even more despicable is that opposition members—particularly New Democrats—have introduced a number of meaningful bills to combat obesity in Canada, to improve health and to enhance the lives of Canadians, but the government systematically shut them down.

That is disgraceful. We are, however, pleased to see that the government appears to be taking this seriously. This motion's weakness is that it does not contain anything concrete. I will explain our issues with this motion a little later.

The NDP has repeatedly asked that levels of trans fats and sodium in food be regulated to improve Canadians' diets and fight obesity.

In 2004, my colleague and good friend, the member for Winnipeg Centre, moved a private member's motion to regulate trans fats in food. While the motion was adopted unanimously, the federal government, be it Liberal or Conservative, has not proposed any measures since then, which we find utterly deplorable.

That same member also introduced Bill C-303, which aims to amend the Food and Drugs Act to limit trans fats in food to a maximum of 2 g per 100 g. That clearly shows that the NDP is making meaningful proposals to improve the health of Canadians.

In 2011, the member for Vancouver East, who is also the official opposition's health critic, introduced Bill C-460, which, if passed—and I hope that the Conservatives will walk the talk and support this worthwhile bill—will implement the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada, along with other specific measures to improve the health of Canadians.

That same member regularly questioned the health minister about processed food regulations in Canada. She asked why the minister cancelled the plan to reduce levels of trans fats in food and why she ignored those who were calling for limits on sodium levels in food.

I encourage the motion's sponsor to raise his concerns with the Minister of Health. This new minister took over the reins this summer. We hope that she will collaborate more than the previous health minister did.

It is clear that the NDP promotes healthy living and that it is truly a priority for this party.

Another NDP colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, introduced Bill C-252, which would allow Canadians to deduct from their taxable income all fees paid to participate in a physical activity or amateur sport. That is nothing to scoff at.

In 2005, barely 28% of Canadians over the age of 15 were involved in a sport. This figure comes from Statistics Canada. The rate of participation in a sports activity is especially low among low-income youth and adults. That is why it is important to help families, whether they are members of the middle class or less well off, to be physically active and to improve their health. Ultimately, they will not be a burden to society in terms of health care costs.

What we find to be unfortunate is that barely 7% of Canadians get 60 minutes of physical activity a day according to the 2012 Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

The government must do more to ensure that our young people are active and expend energy. Our youth must also eat properly. I was hoping that this motion would have more teeth. I was convinced that because this is a Conservative motion, they would have put their heads together to find a bill that all Conservative members would approve.

As I pointed out a little earlier, the NDP is walking the talk whereas the Conservatives are dragging their feet and are even slashing health transfers to the provinces by $31 billion. I will be quite honest with them. The provincial and territorial governments will not have any more money to invest in prevention with this $31 billion cut in health transfers. I find that absurd.

Coming back to my Conservative colleague's motion, in recent decades the prevalence of obesity has drastically increased in Canada. In addition to compromising the health of millions of Canadians, obesity costs Canadians between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion every year. The Conservatives have not established any services to deal with this growing health problem.

What is more, some Canadian health experts estimate that 40,000 obesity-related deaths could be avoided each year if a national obesity prevention strategy were in place to support prevention programs.

The federal government needs to invest more in obesity awareness and prevention services and programs. The NDP has proposed concrete measures to improve the nutritional value of food and promote an active lifestyle. Those are two key factors in preventing obesity.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives, apart from the motion's sponsor, do not care very much about the health of Canadians. Whether it is a question of healthy food choices, promoting an active lifestyle or improving access to timely care, the Conservatives are not living up to the public's expectations.

By cutting funding to programs that facilitate access to adequate housing, a decent income, social inclusion and education, they have exacerbated the risk factors for obesity.

The Conservatives have made unilateral decisions about health that undermine the all-party approach needed to curtail a problem as complex as obesity. That is harming the people who need support to fight the disease and remain healthy.

What we want is clear. Canada's obesity rate is skyrocketing, putting the health of a growing number of Canadians in jeopardy. In recent years, the Conservatives have not stepped up to improve Canadians' health and to provide meaningful, sustained funding for prevention strategies. Instead of moving a motion that only touches on the issue of obesity, why does the government not create a national strategy to actively target this problem that affects the lives of millions of Canadians?

The NDP has always believed in the importance of taking meaningful action to address the health issues affecting Canadians. Although we support Motion No. 425, we believe that it does not do enough to lower the obesity rate in this country, which I think is unfortunate.

NDP members have worked tirelessly to propose meaningful measures to curb obesity. For example, we have suggested limiting the amounts of trans fat and sodium in foods to improve Canadians' diets.

The NDP has been critical of the government's reluctance to regulate processed foods. We also promote an active lifestyle and highlight the importance of prevention.

My speech is nearly done. I think it is truly unfortunate that the government is not doing more overall to promote prevention and to improve Canadians' health. We will support my Conservative colleague's motion. However, when I read the following in the motion: “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to...,” I can see that at the end of the day, everything will remain the same.

We are calling on the government to do more and to stop letting the food industry regulate itself. That does not work. We are also calling on the government to create tax credits for physical activity for the least fortunate members of our society. They need it. I hope that the government will take this into consideration.

Children's HealthPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.
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Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I am rising in the House today to support the motion of the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans. Motion M-319 seeks to find solutions to a serious problem: childhood obesity. The NDP strongly supports this initiative. Obesity rates are skyrocketing and are having a serious impact on the health of Canadian families and on our health care system.

The hon. member has four main points. First, he suggests that the government continue its dialogue with the provinces, territories, health stakeholders, industry and Canadians to promote and maintain healthy weight for children and youth. In short, he is proposing that we continue to talk about childhood obesity.

Second, he recommends that the government encourage discussions to address the factors that lead to obesity, such as social and physical environments, physical activity, as well as the promotion of and access to nutritious food. Once again, he is suggesting that we talk some more.

Third, he recommends that the government encourage individuals and organizations to commit to participating in the promotion of a healthy weight, but he does not suggest any concrete ways of doing this.

Lastly, the motion urges the government to consider the framework for action entitled “Curbing Childhood Obesity” that resulted from the endorsement of the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion by the federal, provincial and territorial health ministers. It calls on all stakeholders to take action to address obesity, particularly in children, promote physical activity and make healthy food choices.

The motion would help increase awareness of this issue among Canadians and would create a dialogue with a view to addressing obesity rates in Canada. This objective is important, but the NDP thinks that we must go further than that.

Furthermore, the NDP has always called for regulations on trans fats in foods, in order to reduce the impact that poor food choices can have on childhood obesity.

In 2004, my colleague from Winnipeg Centre moved a private member's motion to regulate trans fat content in foods. The motion was adopted unanimously, but since then, the government has not followed up with any action. My colleague also introduced Bill C-303, which would limit trans fatty acids. The government has not taken any action since then.

It is critical that we take swift and early action to curb childhood obesity. An obese child is 20% more likely to struggle with weight problems in adulthood. Obese teens are an alarming 80% more likely, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. These numbers are extremely disturbing.

Healthy lifestyle habits must be acquired early on because they are not innate. The best example is enjoyment of physical activity. A child who has active parents and who is encouraged to participate in sports at school will be more likely to maintain those good habits throughout his lifetime.

With all of that in mind, I am worried about how little physical activity kids get in school.

Meaningful steps should be taken to make our environments more conducive to physical activity, to curtail marketing of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, and to increase the availability of nutritious foods at reasonable prices.

Childhood obesity affects physical health as well as a child's emotional health and social life. Children with poor self-esteem can be in for a lifelong struggle. We all know how some kids bully others who are different, which can have serious short- and long-term repercussions.

That is why I support my colleague's motion. However, we must go further by calling for meaningful action as soon as possible.

Several reports have made clear recommendations. In 2007, the Standing Committee on Health examined the issue of childhood obesity. I was surprised to see that the recommendations made by that committee were not included in Motion M-319. For instance, in its report entitled “Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids”, the committee recommends that the federal government establish clear targets to reduce the rate of childhood obesity, suggesting a 2% reduction by 2020.

The report also suggests that the government should present an annual report to Parliament on overall efforts to attain healthy weights for children and on the results achieved. These recommendations were based on evidence from experts in the field, but the member for Ottawa—Orléans chose not to follow their advice.

The provinces have shown that it is possible to take action and really reduce childhood obesity rates. In Alberta, for instance, a program called “Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!” has really helped reduce children's body mass index and body fat percentages. It has also improved their eating habits, increased their physical activity and improved their confidence and self-esteem.

Nova Scotia has also taken measures to eliminate childhood obesity by establishing a food and nutrition policy for the province's public schools that teaches the students to make healthy food choices and only allows food service in schools that meet specific nutrition criteria.

In Quebec, the organization “Québec en Forme” is working to promote the adoption and maintenance of healthy eating habits and a physically active lifestyle for Quebec youth from birth to 17 as essential elements of their full development and educational success. To do this, Québec en Forme is present throughout Quebec, to support communities and organizations that promote projects that establish all the necessary conditions to make it fun and easy for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to move more and eat better on a daily basis.

It is time for the Conservative government to follow the provinces' example and show some leadership. With national standards, such as the Standing Committee on Health report called for, obesity rates could drop across Canada. The motion also calls for dialogue with the industry, but so far the government just bows to industry on matters of health, allowing unhealthy processed foods to go unregulated.

Therefore, I will be supporting the hon. member's initiative, and I hope that the government will follow up with real action soon. It is not enough to talk about the rising rate of childhood obesity; we must do something about it. The time has come. I call on the rest of the Conservative caucus to follow the example of the member for Ottawa—Orléans and address this important issue by introducing a bill that will turn words into action.

Children's HealthPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2012 / 7:10 p.m.
See context


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion today. I still have a valid health care practitioner's licence, so I am always happy to talk about health-related issues, especially issues that have to do with children and youth.

This motion calls on the House to work with the provinces and territories, as well as with health stakeholders, to teach young people about obesity and problems associated with obesity. It also calls on the House to take measures to curb childhood obesity. Although I agree with this motion, I would like to say that I do not think it will do very much.

No one can disagree that obesity is a major problem in our society, but unfortunately, the wording of the motion does not add anything useful and will not achieve much on this issue.

I would like to point out that obesity is a serious health problem, especially when it begins in childhood. Obesity has a variety of effects on health. It can affect both physical and psychological health. We know that young people can be more isolated, have fewer opportunities to speak, have problems with their friends and have self-esteem problems.

In addition to physical health problems, there can be mental health problems. They can affect one's quality of life. Obese individuals cannot participate in the same activities. An obese individual might be unable to go out with friends because he cannot take part in the activity they are doing. There may also be an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Ultimately, obesity can affect life expectancy.

As we have seen, obesity can lead to many problems. For example, it can significantly increase the risk of many chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, liver and gall bladder disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

I want to point out that type 2 diabetes used to affect older people. The greater the demand on the pancreas, the more it deteriorates, and the more likely a person is to require medication. This type of diabetes usually develops later in life, among people over 40. Now, however, we are seeing teenagers with type 2 diabetes. Our teenagers are suffering from old-age diabetes. This is a big problem.

Obese people also have a greater risk of developing cancer, particularly endometrial, breast and colon cancer. Obesity can also cause sleep apnea, which can even lead to death, since sufferers stop breathing in their sleep. It is very disturbing. It causes other respiratory problems, too.

In Canada, 26% of children aged 2 to 17 are overweight or obese. Twenty-six percent. That is a lot. That is one in every four kids.

Obesity rates are even higher in aboriginal populations. Approximately 20% of aboriginal children aged 6 to 14 who live off reserve are obese. Some 26.4% of aboriginal children aged 9 to 14 living on reserve are obese.

In light of all these facts, I think the government really needs to take a leadership role when it comes to promoting health and healthy lifestyles. The incidence of obesity and the problems it causes for Canadian families and on our health care system is truly significant. It is important to understand just how much obesity is weighing down our health care system.

According to recent estimates concerning the economic burden of obesity, it is costing the Canadian health care system somewhere between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion a year.

The Conservatives have had those figures for years now, but have failed to show any leadership on a host of important health issues, including on regulating unhealthy foods, on offering solutions to provide full treatment for people with obesity and on funding physical activity programs.

Although the motion deals with obesity, it does not call for concrete measures to be adopted to deal directly with the problem of obesity.

In 2007—many of my colleagues were members of Parliament at the time—the Standing Committee on Health published a report entitled, “Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids”. The report contained 13 key recommendations, the main one being that the government establish support programs and set targets for reducing childhood obesity rates, including a 10% reduction by 2020.

In this report, the committee also recommended immediately adopting measures to address childhood obesity among aboriginals. It listed various progressive and concrete strategies to reduce childhood obesity.

This committee report provides a real plan of action. It has concrete measures and the data to move forward. I think it is a shame that this motion does not take the recommendations in the report into account, in order to try to find something that will allow us to truly make progress in the fight against obesity.

The motion also calls for dialogue with industry. I agree that it is important to engage all stakeholders. However, at this point, we have had enough discussions with industry. That has been done, and it may be time to take a harder stance with industry about health-related matters. We want processed foods that are bad for our health to be regulated. The government has not dared do this. These are things the government could do, and it knows it.

Furthermore, this motion fails to consider an important aspect of the problem: the socio-economic factors of obesity. It is not by chance that aboriginal children are most affected. We know that they are deeply affected by poverty.

A family that has trouble making ends meet will find it much more difficult to provide a healthy and balanced diet for the children. That has to be taken into consideration. In Canada, two litres of milk cost approximately $2.35 at the grocery store, while two litres of Coca-Cola cost 59¢. Then we wonder why Canadian families cannot make healthy choices when they have no money. It makes no sense that products that are good for health are more expensive and that Canadian families cannot afford them. We have to eliminate poverty if we want people to be healthier one day, and if we really want to fight obesity.

I would also like to point out that the NDP has always pushed for regulations governing trans fats in food in order to reduce the impact of poor food on obesity. Trans fats have various effects on health.

For example, in 2004, my colleague from Winnipeg Centre introduced a private member's motion to regulate the trans fat content in foods. The motion was adopted unanimously, but since then, the government has not followed up with any concrete measures. My colleague also introduced Bill C-303, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (trans fatty acids) to limit trans fatty acids to two grams per 100 grams.

The Conservative government is continuing to avoid taking concrete measures to address the problem of childhood obesity. Rather than simply talking about this issue, the government should be establishing health targets to reduce obesity rates, taking measures to regulate processed foods, and providing funding for physical fitness and nutrition programs. If the government does not immediately attack this problem and its underlying causes, the rising obesity rates will continue to have a serious impact on the health of Canadians and will continue to be a major burden on our health care system.

There have been enough studies of the issue of childhood obesity. There have been enough recommendations, and we have enough information to take much more concrete action on this issue. It is possible to have a much more proactive action plan that would allow us to take concrete action to combat obesity. The health of Canadian children depends on it.

Food and Drugs ActRoutine Proceedings

September 29th, 2011 / 10:20 a.m.
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Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (trans fatty acids).

Mr. Speaker, I felt it necessary to introduce this private member's bill to seek to have Parliament ban trans fatty acids and to eliminate them to the greatest extent possible from our food supply.

Parliament spoke to this issue and voted, by a majority vote, to ban trans fatty acids, but the government of the day and the subsequent Conservative government failed to act on the will of Parliament as expressed by that motion.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Medical Association and other scientific experts agree that this type of fat in our foods should be eliminated as it is far more harmful than other type of saturated fats in our food supply. Some measures have been taken to reduce the trans fatty acids in our food supply, but Parliament was clear that it did not want trans fatty acids reduced by voluntary measures. It wanted them eliminated to the greatest extent possible. That is what this bill, when passed, would require.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)