Child Health Protection Act

An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children)

Status

Third reading (House), as of June 6, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit food and beverage marketing directed at persons under 17 years of age.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 6, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children)
Feb. 14, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children)

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill S-228, a bill that would prohibit the marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

I would like to thank Senator Nancy Green Raine for her continued dedication in this area and for her hard work on this bill. I would also like to thank the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for introducing this bill in the House.

When we talk about the bill, it is important we take a fact and evidence-based approach. I think everyone in the House would agree that we would like to see obesity reduced in Canadians, and that is the goal. However, one of the troubling things is the bill would likely not do that.

First, let us look at the current situation. We have witnessed a decline in childhood and adolescent obesity levels in Canada from 2004 to 2015. This finding is based on the most recent Statistics Canada data from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey. Therefore, rates are declining and people are starting to become aware about what they eat and the effect it has on them.

We have heard in the House how other countries have implemented similar legislation to what is proposed here. In fact, the province of Quebec has had this type of legislation in place for the last 40 years. Unfortunately, there has not been a reduction in obesity rates in Quebec. Its rates have been flat for the last 10 years. Therefore, when we look at addressing obesity, it is important to address all of the factors and ensure that what we do will have an impact.

I know the member who has sponsored the bill is a runner and very fit. I am a triathlete and, in full disclosure to the House, I do from time to time eat chips. I do consume McDonald's, Tim Hortons, and a variety of things that might be categorized under the legislation as being unhealthy. However, I do not think members would say I am obese. Certainly, I am quite healthy. It is a balance.

If I look to how I grew up, I remember we ate Lucky Charms, Cap'n Crunch, and a myriad of candied cereals that would make the unhealthy list. In fact, my mother used to give us toast that we dipped in maple syrup. However, there was not a large amount of obesity then, because we ran around all day, played outside, and got our physical activity. Physical activity is probably a stronger factor than what we see here.

One of the problems I have with the bill is the vague definition of “unhealthy” food. Who will decide that? As we pointed out, everything in moderation can contribute to one's diet. That is problematic.

The other thing is the unintended consequences of the bill. I was pleased to hear, with some of the amendments the member has proposed, about the age requirement being held to 13. Although I do not think the bill would have the intended effect of reducing obesity, it is clear that it is problematic with respect to court challenges and also with respect to what we allow people 15 and 16 years old to do. We allow them to fly planes, to get their driver's licence, and all kinds of things. It seems like we need to err on the side of personal choice and individual responsibility.

Also, there will be an impact for many of the folks who have businesses, McDonald's and Tim Hortons I mentioned. Pop is another controversial topic of conversation. However, all of these businesses will receive an unintended consequence. Therefore, I was happy to hear that the health minister recognized there would be an impact on the community support that these organizations provided with respect to sporting events and those kinds of things. It is important that we keep those up, and all the other things they do to support the community, such as the Ronald McDonald houses and the camps that Tim Hortons run. There are numerous beneficial things.

Therefore, I do not think we want to implement legislation that would not actually address the obesity issue but have these other negative consequences, which may not be intended.

One of the concerns that has been brought up as well, which would be addressed by the amendment of reducing the age, is with respect to the kids who work in restaurants or convenience stores and would be exposed to marketing.

The advertising part of this also looks to be difficult to implement. I am not sure what we expect to happen with billboards, because young children will see the billboards. Is that marketing directed at children? Who will make those calls? I think it is unreasonable to assume that the people at Health Canada are going to be able to determine whether advertising is directed at children, and to enforce it. How would they enforce that? How many resources are required to enforce something like that? Those are questions that still need to be answered.

The other concerns that have been raised to me have to do with predominantly adult audiences. If the audience is 95% adult, would we allow unhealthy foods to be advertised there or not? Some of these things seem a little hypocritical. If we look at the government allowing 12- to 17-year-olds to possess up to five grams of marijuana, it seems ridiculous and very hypocritical that we do not want them to see ads for unhealthy foods. There are things of that nature that need to be addressed in this legislation.

There are also going to be economic impacts from this. Estimates from a recent industry study indicate that a ban on food and beverage advertising would result in a GDP reduction of over $10 billion a year, tens of thousands of lost employment person-years, and reductions in income, payroll, and corporate revenues of nearly $1 billion. These unintended consequences will be very bad for the country. As I said, I do not believe the legislation is actually going to get to the heart of the issue, which is reducing obesity.

The other thing that is problematic from my perspective is this. I grew up enjoying Christmas calendars and Easter bunnies. I really think that there is a time and a place where the marketing of treats does not result in obesity. They happen occasionally and are not a chronic part of an everyday diet. That needs to be looked at as well, and exemptions would have to be put forward for those.

I do not know how one would measure whether or not marketing is primarily directed at children. I am not clear on the definition of that. If we look to other places that have implemented similar programs, I know that the data from Chile suggests that it has not seen a reduction in obesity, even though it put in place some very stringent measures. The boxes of Lucky Charms and Cap'n Crunch that I talked about have to be packaged in a white sack in Chile, yet it is still not seeing a reduction in obesity. Similar results exist in the U.K. as well. Therefore, we need to be fact-based and evidence-based when it comes to how we view this legislation.

One of the things that I would like to see is a focus on the activity level of children. I talked about how there was no obesity around our neighbourhood because we were all very active. We have to educate our children and Canadians on the food that they eat and how to live a healthy lifestyle. That is good education and I have certainly changed some of my eating habits over time. It is better for us to educate and then allow people to make their personal choices. If they are taking their kids out, they should be able to take them to McDonald's. I do not think we want to get into a situation where we have a nanny state and we are influencing the personal choices of people. Individuals have a responsibility. Parents have a responsibility.

Those are my comments. I look forward to being at the health committee to talk about this, to look at the amendments that are put forward, and to further discussion.

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of Bill S-228, the child health protection act. I know this legislation will make a difference in the overall health of Canadians, especially our youth. As chair of the all-party diabetes caucus, I know the importance of deterring unhealthy food choices in favour of a healthy, active lifestyle.

I would like to express my thanks to the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for sponsoring the bill. I would also to recognize the efforts of the hon. Senator Greene Raine for leading the bill and for her tireless work in advancing the national dialogue on restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.

Young children are subject to the influence of advertising in many forms of media. With bright colours and big excitement, advertising can attract young Canadians to food and drink choices that do not contribute to their nutritional needs or that are filled with sugar, which is a leading cause of obesity among our youth today.

The social and economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases in this country are already unsustainable. Chronic diseases impacted by diet cost the Canadian economy at least $27 billion dollars every year, and that cost is growing. We need to break this trend and move the needle in the right direction, starting with our children. This is just one example of unhealthy marketing to young Canadians that would be prevented through the changes suggested in this legislation, and that would be a great thing.

Bill S-228 seeks to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food to children. It seeks to prevent bright and animated imagery from influencing children to choose foods and beverages that do nothing to meet their daily nutrient needs and that fills them with unhealthy sugars, chemicals, fats, and empty carbohydrates. This is an important move at a time when our nation faces a chronic disease crisis brought on by diets that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. The bill would help head off growing obesity rates in Canada and could even help reduce the epidemic of diabetes that is soaring from coast to coast to coast.

As I mentioned previously, my role as chair of the all-party diabetes caucus makes me especially proud to support this bill brought here by my friend and colleague, who brings his extensive medical background to our work on the Standing Committee on Health.

Today Canada ranks among the most overweight OECD countries, based on body mass index. A 2017 obesity update by the OECD showed that in Canada, approximately 27% of the population aged 15 and over is obese. In my riding of Brampton South, we see that obesity is a significant health concern for all residents. In fact, in Peel Region, 51% of adults and 32% of grade 7 to 12 students are overweight or obese.

Many factors contribute to these chronic health concerns, including high levels of sodium consumption. Canadian children consume on average more than 80% of the daily recommended salt intake. This can lead to high blood pressure, which comes with many dangerous consequences. Across the country, 25% of Canadians are living with diagnosed high blood pressure, and this rate has been rising by nearly 3% each year since 2000.

While there are many factors that contribute to obesity, a lack of nutritional balance and an overuse of unhealthy foods is a major contributing factor. Interventions like this one are important to protect young Canadians from the appeals of advertising, which can draw them to make unhealthy choices in their daily food and drinks. Certainly, reducing our obesity rate will have a significant impact on reducing the rate of Canadians living with type 2 diabetes. Reduced blood sugar levels, increased physical activity, and loss of about 5% to 10% of total body weight can make a great difference in overall health and quality of life.

Our government is taking great strides to encourage healthy, active living. Canada's healthy eating strategy is a great example of this, with many elements working together to help Canadians make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Too often, with the pressures of our busy lives, Canadians forgo home cooking in favour of processed foods. Too often, we substitute nutritional value for convenience, and with the power of advertising, this can lead to habit-forming patterns for Canadian youth and young adults. In fact, a recent study found that children are exposed to more than 25 million food and beverage ads on their favourite websites. The World Health Organization has also expressed its concern about the power of advertising targeted at children. In 2010, WHO member states, including Canada, made recommendations calling for comprehensive controls on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.

We all know how pervasive marketing can be when it comes to making consumer decisions. How many words have entered our common language after first being brand names? How many of us can sing along to the jingles on TV and radio? How many of us can name the big orange tiger on the cereal box?

When healthy eating and active living can make such a great difference in deterring the onset of obesity and chronic disease, a responsible government should do all it can to help Canadians live healthy lives.

This summer, I travelled across Canada to speak with Canadians about healthy eating and heard great support for this bill as it made its way through the other place. Now that it has been raised here, I continue to hear support for this bill and the positive changes it would make to the overall health of Canadian youth. Youth are, after all, the next generation of Canadian adults, and if we can promote improve their health at a younger age, we will see consistent change in the overall health of all Canadians.

It is my hope that in the years to come, the pressures of food and beverage industry marketing will be removed and that children and young Canadians will making healthier choices, contributing to their overall health.

I want thank my colleague for bringing this bill here, and all who have worked to protect young Canadians from targeted marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks. I encourage all of my colleagues on both sides of this House to support this bill and do their part to help us protect the health of Canadian youth. Together, we can make a real difference in the health and well-being of Canadians today and for years to come.

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, at this time of the year, I want to wish you, all of the pages, staff, and colleagues a very merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous 2018.

It is a pleasure to speak today to Bill S-228. While the intent of the bill is something we should all support, and I certainly do, more than one member has talked about its unintended consequences. I met today with members of Canada Soccer and Sports Matters, who are very concerned about programs. Everyone is very aware of the Timbits hockey and soccer programs and a number of others. These could be in severe jeopardy of not complying with this bill if the regulations are not done right. That is a concern.

Child Health Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

October 6th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children).

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise in the House today and a introduce Senate public bill, Bill S-228, the child health protection act, which seeks to amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. I would like thank Olympic gold medallist Senator Nancy Greene Raine of British Columbia for her tremendous work on this issue, as well as our Senate colleagues, who unanimously passed this bill last week.

The rapidly increasing rate of childhood obesity has become a matter of national concern in Canada. The World Health Organization's commission on ending childhood obesity found that there is unequivocal evidence that the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages has a negative impact on childhood obesity, and it recommends that any attempt to tackle childhood obesity should include a reduction in the exposure of children to marketing.

As parliamentarians, it is our duty to stand up for those who are most vulnerable in our society, and no group is more vulnerable than our children. The protection of children from the manipulative influence of marketing of unhealthy food and beverages is predicated on a pressing and substantial concern and calls for a federal legislative response.

This bill is that legislative response, and I ask all members for their support.

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