It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill S-228 under private members' business.
Call in the members.
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.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 19th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes
It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill S-228 under private members' business.
Call in the members.
The House resumed from September 17 consideration of the motion that Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), be read the third time and passed.
Accessible Canada ActGovernment Orders
September 19th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.
I want to say at the outset that I am pleased to see that the minister has brought forward this bill. I have absolutely no doubt about her sincerity in trying to improve the lives of people with disabilities. I too am aligned in that direction. I have listened carefully to the debate we have had so far talking about how to get people with disabilities the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, how to make sure they are able to live independently and how to make sure they are free from violence. I am aligned in all those things. I think I have heard that all the parties in the House are aligned in how we improve the lives of people with disabilities, and what we can we do with this bill to make sure it is effective.
When it comes to deciding to tackle an issue, with my engineering perspective I will ask what it is we are trying to do. I think it is trying to get people to be able to live independently, to have the same rights and responsibilities as others and to be free from violence. What is the plan to make that happen? What mechanisms will we put in place in order to make sure the money or the incentives flow so the behaviours of people will take root?
In my speech, I am going to talk a bit about what has happened in the past and what the Conservatives did. Then I will talk a little about the Liberal record. Then I will talk about the situation in my own riding, some ideas about possible solutions and some concerns I have with the legislation as it is written today.
I know things were going on to help improve accessibility when the Conservatives were in power. Although I was not here myself, I saw all the announcements and improvements happening in my own riding of Sarnia—Lambton, where multiple millions of dollars were spent to upgrade different buildings to ensure they were accessible for people in wheelchairs and to put different aids in place to help people with disabilities. I note that was going on.
At the same time, we have heard other members in the House talk about the Conservative Party's introduction of the registered disability savings plan in 2008. This plan is quite a rich plan. I looked at the details of it when we were addressing an issue that I will talk about later. However, this is a plan where a disabled person can put in up to $5,000 a year and the government will match it threefold. That program has been going on for almost 10 years. Although it has not come to the point where people are collecting from the program, it is a very well thought out way of ensuring people with disabilities will have the wherewithal to retire in dignity.
I see that and see the efforts of the member for Carleton, who brought forward a very intelligent bill aimed at addressing the problem people with disabilities have when they want to go work and their benefits are clawed back. In some cases, the money they are getting from other disability programs is clawed back. I was really disappointed in the extreme that every Liberal in the place rejected that private member's bill. That bill would have been such a help to people with disabilities. We talked as well about the member for Calgary Shepard bringing forward a private member's bill on rare diseases, which was also rejected. I just heard a member from the NDP talking about her bill being rejected.
This is where one really has to question people's motives. When people say one thing and do another, they are likely to be called hypocrites. When I look at the Liberals, I see there is a lot of talking about helping people with disabilities, but then we look at the record of what has happened since the election in 2015. The first member who had the portfolio to do something here on accessibility, or helping the disabled, was the member for Calgary Centre. It was in the mandate letter, yet nothing was done. That member is also a person who has lived experience as a person with disabilities, but nothing was done. It was not a priority.
It was then passed along to the member for Etobicoke North. However, I do sympathize with her. She is the Minister of Science and has a lot of very important things to do which, of course, I, as a fellow science person, cannot criticize. Again, nothing really came forward.
Then when I looked at the bill to see what was in it, I thought that perhaps there would be a lot of infrastructure money. We know there are a lot of buildings that are not accessible and they need a lot of money in order to repair them so they will be accessible. In some cases, those could be incentives. There is a number of ways that could be done, but nothing in the bill talks about that.
In fact, the bill has sort of an element of what the minister's powers would be. It has an element of a standards organization that can talk about what the right thing to do would be. There are mechanisms in the bill to complain. There are mechanisms in it to inspect. However, there are no action words. There is really no doing of anything. It is going to be consulting and spending a few more years to try to figure out what we should do, when we already know some of the things we should do. Some of the things we should do involves investing the same kind of infrastructure money that was previously done under the Conservatives.
I have heard the government speak about the $180 billion of infrastructure money that it will invest over the next number of years. In fact, the Liberals got elected on a promise to spend very small deficits in order to put infrastructure in place. That was going to create jobs and drive the economy and repair our roads and bridges, etc. None of that ever happened. My point is that there was a lot of infrastructure money that was planned to be spent. Even though the government has had difficulty getting that accomplished, as I think it has only spent about 40% of what it planned, it has still racked up way more deficit but not on the intended things.
There is an opportunity for the government to do something immediately with respect to infrastructure to improve accessibility. Those are things where the building codes exist today. The specifications exist today. The standards exist today. No work needs to be done to consult anybody on that or have new standard organizations to do it. This already exists. All it really needs is political will to put that money in place.
Instead, the government has basically a different political will, if we look at where the billions of dollars that the government is spending is going: $4.2 billion on foreign aid; $2.65 billion on climate change support for foreign countries like China and India; $5 billion for the Syrian refugees; $1 billion for the asylum seekers; and multiple billions of other things that are spread around the world but not for Canadians and not for the disabled. When we look at where time, energy and money is put, that determines what our values are or what our priorities are.
It has been three years before seeing any kind of legislation and the legislation does not have any strong actions in it. It is more of “we'll put structures in place to consult”. I really question whether there is enough political will to achieve good outcomes here.
As I mentioned, I have some good examples from my riding that I can share. I know that the previous member of Parliament, Pat Davidson, was very active. She really cared about improving accessibility. Elevators were put in multiple buildings. We had accessibility all over the county of Lambton. As well, we have upgraded many of the schools to be accessible.
The Sarnia Arena is going under remediation. I was there for an event this past weekend and all of the entrances and front sidewalks, etc. have been improved for accessibility and all of the standards have been met.
Not everything is wonderful in my riding. We have a situation in Port Lambton where the post office, which is a Crown corporation and is under the legislation being proposed, is not accessible. It has been there for a long period of time and was grandfathered, but it is not accessible. We are having a municipal election and people are going to have to go to Canada Post to vote. In Port Lambton that is pretty much all there is. However, it is not accessible. People have known about it for a long time. My office has called and nagged and has been told that they will get to it. However, no one has got to it.
Here is an example where the solution is known. It just needs to get done and it needs to get done in a hurry. Again, where is the will to force these solutions to happen?
I have a tremendously great example of a fellow named Dan Edwards in my riding. Unfortunately, he had an accident which rendered him unable to walk and left him in a wheelchair. He has been super inspirational in the riding. He does fundraising for mental health efforts and different things.
This is one of the things he did. We have a fundraiser in Sarnia—Lambton called the Dream Home. It is a fundraiser for the hospital. He decided to get together with the architect who was going to build the latest Dream Home for a lottery to raise money for the hospital and decided to make it a visitable home. A visitable home is a home where any person in a wheelchair would be fully able to access everything, from cooking to the entrances. Everything is ground floor. It is very well done.
I had the opportunity to tour the home and see what he and architect had designed together. He shared with me a lot of information about the very many plans like this. It is quite possible. We have these solutions that we could put in place to allow people to live independently. That would be great. Again, money and political will is some of what is required here.
The other piece of advice I would give with respect to solutions and rolling out the infrastructure money is to ensure that it is well-distributed. Of the $180 billion that was announced over 10 years, only $2 billion of that was earmarked for rural communities. When we look at improving accessibility, I think we will find that there is even more need in the rural communities. In many cases, they have grandfathered their buildings. There are more older buildings, and they have not been made accessible. As well, there is less of a population base to bring in the revenue to do these things of their own volition. That needs to be considered.
With respect to some concerns about the legislation, $290 million has been proposed. I heard discussion earlier about 5,000 new public servants. I was not clear if that was 5,000 public servants with disabilities who would be hired while attrition happened, so over time, or whether that was 5,000 additional public service employees. Of course, I would be opposed to increasing the size of government.
Another concern I have with the bill has to do with leaving things for the regulations. As a parliamentarian, and a detailed-oriented one, I do not like to leave things to chance. I have seen before, under some of the legislation that the Liberals have brought forward, where it is all left to regulation.
With Bill S-5, for example, the Liberals decided, from the plain packaging and the vaping, they were going to leave a lot of it to the regulations. We were approving a bill, and as the point was made, that we really did not know what the final outcomes would be. We were going to leave it to the regulation.
In the example of Bill S-5, the Liberals want to go to a plain package. The dimensions of the plain package are produced by machines that are obsolete, that are no longer owned by anybody who is legitimately in the business. The Liberals have given businesses six months to convert.
They would have to redesign the old, obsolete machines and get them built somewhere, and that is certainly an 18-month deal, or they would have to be shut down altogether in order to achieve this plain packaging goal, or let them use the existing size. That is an example of where when things are left to regulations, they do not always get done the way that we might want. That is why parliamentary oversight is important.
Bill C-45, the cannabis legislation, is another example where the Liberals decided to leave a lot of the details to the regulation. The problem is that the regulations did not come out quickly enough to address all the unanswered questions that were still out there. Now we are left with a situation where we will legalize on October 17, and there is still a huge number of things that are not addressed in the regulations. Again, there is no parliamentary oversight to talk about them.
This point came up again on Bill S-228 with the regulation that we most recently talked about, which is the one that prohibits the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. Instead of defining what the healthy foods are, the comment was that it would be left to the regulations.
As parliamentarians, we have a right to know what that list will be and have some opportunity to object or give input if we do not agree. By leaving it to the regulations, we would be passing a blank bill that says we would be doing something. We have no idea what the something is and we have no input on the something, but we are expected to vote in favour of it. I have an issue with that.
When it comes to accessibility, we have been much too slow in moving forward and addressing these things. For example, there are a lot of the grandfathered buildings. My mother is 84 and walks with a rollator. There are a lot of places she cannot go because of staircases or it is too narrow to get through. Something needs to be done there and I look forward to seeing what solutions will be brought forward are.
I will talk a little about some of the things the government could do that would make people have more faith in its wanting to help disabled people.
Members may remember when I was here on a Friday, asking a question about the disability tax credit. Through that whole event, we found out that where 80% of people with type 2 diabetes were previously approved, all of a sudden 80% were disapproved. We raised the concern, and the Liberal government insisted that nothing had changed. Of course, as the scandal went on, it came out that indeed things had changed. There were instructions given to interpret the criteria differently, and it went very broad. It affected not just people with diabetes but people with other disabilities, such as autism and mental disorders like bipolar. It took months and months to get justice for those people. This is what undermines people's faith that the government is sincere in its efforts to improve things for people with disabilities.
I will give members another example. For people with multiple sclerosis, it can be very difficult, because people are not always be at the same degree of wellness. It is sort of intermittent where there may be periods where they cannot work and other times they may be fine.
However, the current EI rules are not flexible enough to allow a person who has MS to be on EI and work intermittently, the same total benefits as someone who takes it consecutively would get. I raised this issue with the Minister of Labour. There is an easy fix there. If 670 hours of eligibility are required and there is a certain amount of hours that people get in benefits, then allow the intermittency. Those are the kinds of things we can do for people who have disabilities to be able to live independently, to work and to engage. We need to do that.
I did take the point that was made earlier that no disability lens was used for the legislation. When we do legislation, we do it with a gender-based lens. Therefore, it is very appropriate here to take that recommendation from the member and put a disability lens in place.
I also do not like the powers to exempt in the bill. I find that when we allow exemptions and have cabinet decide, we get into trouble. We saw this with the carbon tax. The government had the power to exempt and it decided to exempt the largest emitters up to 90% of their emissions. There is an example where having the power to exempt is really not what we want.
In summary, I absolutely want to see persons with disabilities have the independence they need and have the help they need. However, it has to happen faster. I call on the government today to start putting money into infrastructure for accessibility and do the solutions that we already know about, while we craft improvements to the bill.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 17th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see you again today as Parliament resumes. I hope that all my colleagues are pleased to be back, as am I. It is a beautiful day and a good time to return to Ottawa to engage with our colleagues.
I would like to thank the Hon. Nancy Greene for introducing this bill in the other chamber, and I congratulate her on her exceptional career. She has been a role model for all Canadians, especially young people. I really wanted to pay her this small tribute.
Child obesity is very costly for Canadians. We must continually improve our children's quality of life. In fact, several studies show that the costs associated with obesity are very high. In March 2016, when testifying before a committee in the other chamber, Ms. Laurie Twells, associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Memorial University of Newfoundland, stated that the financial burden of the direct cost of health care and the indirect cost of lost productivity due to obesity in Canada is estimated to be between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion a year. Problems associated with obesity cost our society between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion every year.
I think everyone here in the House agrees that we need to tackle this major problem. We need to do better for future generations. This brings me to Bill S-228, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, which proposes a ban on food and beverage marketing directed at children. In my view, this bill unfortunately does nothing to really eliminate the problem of childhood obesity. Canadians' lifestyles have a considerable impact on their health. I think we should have started by addressing the lifestyles of young Canadians.
Speaking of which, I am pleased to remind the House that the previous Conservative government had introduced a tax credit to increase Canadian families' participation in sports. Getting Canadians moving is the best way to really bring down obesity rates. The tax credit brought forward by the Harper government focused on athletic, cultural, and social development to ensure that Canadians, even from a very young age, adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. That was real action. The idea was to encourage parents to get their kids to exercise by helping them pay for those activities. Enrolling your kids in sports like hockey and gymnastics can often be very expensive. My daughters were in gymnastics and I know from experience that a year of gymnastics for a little girl is very expensive, but at the end of the year, we received a tax credit that allowed both of our daughters, and not just one, to do gymnastics. The entire family was encouraged to exercise.
Unfortunately, one of the first things this government did was abolish the children's fitness tax credit. This credit represented a real solution to the obesity problem. I believe that hundreds, or even thousands, of children benefited from this credit and were able to participate in sports. The Liberal government chose to go after advertising instead of Canadians' lifestyles. This shows, yet again, that the Liberal government does not understand life in Canada's regions. Canadian families deserve better. The government could be depriving many organizations, all across Canada, of the money they use to run activities that get kids moving. I will explain. Yesterday Thetford Mines held its half marathon. One thousand people participated, including seniors, who were making a return to physical exercise, and young families with small children, who were exercising and decided to participate in the Thetford Mines half marathon. This means that the participants had been exercising and running with their families. These are wonderful family activities.
Thetford Mines was able to organize a half marathon because we have financial partners, which include Oasis juice, Yum Yum Chips, and Krispy Kernels. Unfortunately, under a Health Canada definition that has yet to be released, these companies could be seen as producers of unhealthy foods. I will come back to that. I think there is a problem when it comes to Health Canada defining unhealthy foods. Bill S-228 gives Health Canada the latitude to determine which foods are healthy and which are not. That is a real problem.
A number of companies promote physical activity by sponsoring sports organizations. If the Liberal government moves forward with this bill as it now stands, all of those companies would be prohibited from continuing their involvement in various communities. We proposed an amendment to exempt these companies from the advertising ban, particularly when they sponsor sporting events. Take for example Tim Hortons and McDonald's, which have supported Canada's Olympic athletes for a long time now. It is important to recognize that. However, no one on the other side of the House would support the amendment introduced by my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton, who does excellent work on the Standing Committee on Health.
I am very concerned about leaving it up to Health Canada to decide which foods are healthy and which are not, because this issue is closely connected to an agriculture-related issue I have been working on, namely front-of-package nutrition labelling. Health Canada is currently making decisions about what is and is not good for people's health instead of letting people decide that for themselves. I have some straightforward questions.
Is orange juice healthy? Is yogurt healthy? Is cheese healthy? I am sure Canadians encourage their kids to drink orange juice every morning and eat yummy yogurt. Health Canada, however, says that the front of these products' packaging should be labelled to show that they contain too much fat or sugar, for example. That is what Health Canada is looking at.
Will cheese makers have to stop running ads aimed at children? Will companies that make all-natural juices, such as orange juice, have to stop running ads aimed at children? I predict that, left to its own devices, Health Canada will prohibit such companies from advertising their healthy products to children because it seems disinclined to take all the science into account. The department is making decisions based on public opinion and forcing food manufacturers to label some products that have not been scientifically proven to be harmful.
The fat in yogurt is not necessarily unhealthy. People need to consume certain amounts of certain kinds of fat. That is good for our health. Even so, Health Canada has decided to put big warnings on these products telling people they are dangerous. Under Bill S-228, those same people will decide which foods are unhealthy. Things do not look good for dairy producers, cheese makers, and anyone who grows fruit that gets made into juice. That is how this is shaping up.
Bill S-228 will not solve the problem of obesity. Furthermore, it gives Health Canada powers that are much too broad, particularly regarding the definitions of what is healthy and what is unhealthy, and demands no accountability. Health Canada will make all the decisions, and in two years' time, everything will be prohibited. This is nonsense. It is time to take a step back so we can really understand what needs to be done to ensure that Canada's youth does not have to face the scourge of obesity. We need to encourage physical activity by making it easier for families to access physical education programs and encouraging youth to practice their sport. The tax credit we introduced in that regard was excellent and suited all families.
If we really want to eliminate obesity, we need to give Canadian families the means to purchase healthy food at all times. Above all, we need to allow them to decide for themselves what is healthy and unhealthy. We already allow Canadians aged 13 to 17 to do all kinds of things. They can drive a car for example. The older kids get, the more rights they have, but now the government wants to tell kids under 18 that they cannot decide for themselves what is healthy and what is unhealthy. Instead of prohibiting kids from seeing something, we should be educating them so they can make healthy decisions throughout their lives.
We are prepared to work with the government to find solutions. This is why we proposed an amendment to exempt sponsors of sporting events and other similar activities from the application of this bill. This would guarantee the survival of festivals, half marathons, and other organizations. Unfortunately, this amendment was rejected outright.
If the government truly cared about Canadians' health, it would have listened to us and surely would not have allowed the legalization of marijuana. Talk about being at odds with healthy living. The Liberals legalized a product known for being harmful.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 17th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill S-228, the child health protection act, legislation that, if passed, would restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children under the age of 13. Our government commends the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for sponsoring this important bill in the House of Commons. We also commend former Senator Greene-Raine for introducing the bill in the other place, and for her tireless efforts to support healthy choices for Canadian children.
More than at any time in our history, children are being exposed to a steady stream of advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages. It goes without saying that the advertising of these products has a significant influence on children when they make consumption choices and purchase requests.
Children are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended, while their diets often exceed the recommended amounts of sugars, salt, and saturated fat.
It will come as no surprise that one in three Canadian children are overweight or obese. We know that the consumption of unhealthy foods early in life is linked to a higher risk of health problems later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It is a worrisome reality that these diseases are now starting to become more common in children. We cannot allow this trend to persist. This is an issue that requires national leadership.
The evidence is clear. The World Health Organization has identified the marketing of unhealthy foods to children as a major contributor to childhood obesity. In Canada, on a daily basis, children are exposed to advertisements designed to appeal to them for food and beverages high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats. These advertisements go well beyond the traditional print, radio, and TV ads of the past. In fact, a recent analysis concluded that 90% of the millions of online food and beverage ads that Canadian children see every year are for unhealthy products.
What I would like to stress is that these advertisements are used for a reason. They are used because they work. They influence our children when they are making choices of what foods to eat, or what foods to ask their parents to buy. Taking action today on restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages provides us with an opportunity to ensure our children have a better chance at a healthy start in life, one that is based on a foundation of healthy eating choices. That is why our government strongly supports the bill, and is committed to seeing it passed and brought into force.
The process to develop the bill included a great deal of thoughtful study and engagement with all affected parties. That is why, after careful consideration, government members presented legislative amendments to the Standing Committee on Health, where they were adopted. These amendments included changing the definition of children to under 13 years old, for the purposes of the act.
There is precedent, under the Quebec Consumer Protection Act for defining a child as under 13, in the context of restricting advertising. The Quebec legislation was subject to a challenge under the charter, at the end of which the Supreme Court fully upheld Quebec's restrictions on advertising to children. However, we also know that teenagers are often targeted by the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages because of their increased independence, access to their own money, and susceptibility to peer influence.
Taking these considerations into account, government members introduced an additional amendment to require Parliament to conduct a mandatory review of the legislation within five years of the act's coming into force, with a particular focus on its definition of children. This review would serve to monitor the effectiveness of the restrictions, determine if new forms of advertising are affecting children and assess whether there was an increase in advertising targeted to adolescents aged 13 to 17 years.
At the Standing Committee on Health, we heard some concerns that the bill might have unintentional consequences related to children's involvement in sports. I want to be clear that our government is committed to recognizing children's sports as a key element of supporting an active lifestyle. Community sporting activities provide social and health benefits to children. Taking these benefits into account, our government is committed to exempting children's sport sponsorships from the restrictions through regulations.
The development of this regulatory exemption will be informed by the Quebec Consumer Protection Act, with consideration given to prohibiting specific advertising practices targeted to children under 13, such as unhealthy food giveaways at children's community sporting events. Those are the types of things that we will be looking for.
The amended bill along with the regulatory exemption will ensure that our approach achieves the best health outcome for children. Our government will not let up on the fight to reduce obesity and chronic disease. Restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages is a key part of our government's healthy eating strategy, a multi-faceted approach aimed at improving the food environment and giving Canadians the tools to make healthier choices. Government action aimed at reducing chronic disease over the years has taught us a valuable lesson that no single action, not one alone, is a silver bullet, but a suite of actions complemented by effective public education can turn the tide.
We cannot underestimate the influence of these advertisements nor can we sit idly by and watch the health of children decline due to poor eating habits. That is why I am encouraging all sides of the House to support this bill. Together we can advance this important piece of legislation that will protect the health of Canadian children and make the healthy choice the easy choice now and for future generations of Canadians.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 17th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC
Mr. Speaker, as the critic for families, children and social development, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill S-228 and to speak about this issue that is so important for the health of our young people.
According to Ms. Francine Forget-Marin, director of health promotion and research at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, “children are very vulnerable to advertising because they cannot distinguish between good food and bad.... We are now seeing trademarks being used in video games and advertising permeating social media.” This statement precisely and clearly identifies the challenge that this bill addresses. The situation is worrisome and requires that we take action.
Among industrialized countries, Canada ranks sixth for the highest obesity rates for children. The childhood obesity rate in Canada has almost tripled in the past 30 years, according to the 2016 study by the Senate committee. Obesity leads to health problems such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, and mental health issues such as low self-esteem, poor body image, bullying, depression, and so forth—all of which are affecting younger and younger people.
The annual economic burden of obesity is reported to be in the billions of dollars. However, according to the senate committee's 2016 study, obesity costs Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity. The use of captivating advertisements that encourage our children to consume unhealthy food and beverages contribute to the obesity problem.
The World Health Organization found that the marketing of unhealthy foods was one of the main risk factors for obesity, especially since children are much more easily swayed by advertising than adults. Children who are more exposed to advertising have a tendency to ask for products that feature a character or logo they recognize. Research by the Heart and Stroke Foundation found that kids see more than 25 million food and beverage ads a year on their favourite websites. These figures are as impressive as they are troubling.
We also know that childhood obesity does not disappear as soon as a child becomes an adult. Children with weight problems are more likely to experience weight problems throughout their adult lives. This is a long-term problem that requires a long-term solution.
That is what Bill S-228 does. It eliminates the problem at the source by prohibiting certain types of marketing. That is why I think Bill S-228 is necessary.
I would like to take this opportunity to talk about what people in the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot are doing to fight obesity. I am thinking here of the Heart and Stroke Foundation volunteers in Montérégie. I would like to commend Linda Jodoin, Stéphane Martin, Jérémy Ménard, and others for the work they do to help our community. These volunteers are helping to save lives by working to fight heart disease and stroke. I thank them once again for their contributions and for the incredible work they do to help people in our community.
As an MP from Quebec, I also want to mention how proud I am of my province, which is the only one that already has legislation in place in this regard. The Quebec Consumer Protection Act, which has been in effect since 1980, has had a very positive impact on the health of our children. According to a 2011 study, Quebec has the lowest rate of obesity among children aged 6 to 11, and the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables. This shows how important and useful legislation is. I would therefore like to once again commend Quebec for being a leader on this.
The bill sought to amend the Competition Act and the Food and Drugs Act to expressly restrict advertising and promotion, for commercial purposes, of products, food, drugs, cosmetics, or devices directly to children under 13 years of age.
The NDP supports this bill because we believe in reducing children's exposure to ads promoting unhealthy food and beverages that can cause obesity and mental or physical health problems.
The two main factors linked to obesity are eating habits and physical activity. By banning the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, Bill S-228 tackles the issue of eating habits in a fundamental way, because it forces all of Canadian society to rethink what we teach our children about food.
As we have seen, ads targeting children influence not only their eating preferences and behaviours, but also their nutrition knowledge. As a result, ads play an active role in teaching children about food.
This bill would also close certain loopholes in the 1980 Quebec act that inspired it. That is another reason I support it.
Under Quebec law, kids can still see packaging, storefront advertising, and products on supermarket shelves. When I discussed this with people from Quebec's Weight Coalition, they told me that exceptions to the legislation are an ongoing problem.
This bill would ban food and beverage marketing directed at children, and that includes how products are labelled and packaged, of course.
By supporting this bill, we are also signalling to parents that we understand their concerns. We support them because we know that navigating the aggressive marketing techniques we have been talking about alone is not easy.
Nevertheless, as a New Democrat, I think we have to respect provincial jurisdiction. This bill has to be consistent with and informed by the Quebec law.
This bill must not result in a total ban on food and beverage advertising to children under 17 years of age. It needs to be consistent with Quebec's legislation, which defines children as being 13 years of age or under.
The restaurant and food services sectors are affected by this bill, and they feel the same way we do. They support the idea of strengthening measures to prevent obesity in children under 13. At the same time, however, they think it is unfortunate that the age associated with the term “child” in this bill is 17, whereas the age limit in Quebec's act is 13.
I also want to make sure that we all understand the legal and economic ramifications of this bill before we pass it. I am not convinced that the views of the affected sectors, such as the restaurant and food services sectors, were adequately taken into consideration in committee.
Restaurants Canada told us that Health Canada's definition of a healthy food is too restrictive. It excludes any food that provides less than 5% or 15% of the daily value of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.
In conclusion, I believe that by supporting this bill, we are making the right choice. If we take action today to help our children eat better, we can create the healthier adults of tomorrow and guarantee a healthier society. The example of Quebec, which tackled this issue successfully almost 30 years ago, should encourage the federal government to take this path for the sake of our constituents' health and well-being.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 17th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON
Mr. Speaker, I hope that you had a good summer. I certainly did.
I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-228, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act by prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children.
I would like to begin by thanking many individuals and groups for their ongoing efforts on this bill. First, I would like to thank Senator Nancy Greene Raine, now retired, for her years of service and her ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of Canadians, particularly the health of children. I would also like to thank members from all parties and the many witnesses for their passion and expertise.
Basically, Bill S-228 seeks to prohibit food and beverage marketing directed at persons under the age of 13. The bill's introduction in the House is rather timely because its objective can be found in the Minister of Health's mandate letter. Although this bill is well intentioned and seeks to combat childhood obesity, many stakeholders and witnesses expressed their concerns about the scope of the bill and its potential unintended consequences.
Similar legislation already exists in Quebec, which is often cited as an example. Quebec passed legislation in 1980 to ban advertising aimed at children aged 13 and under. To be clear, while it is true that Quebec has one of the lowest obesity rates in Canada, that is not necessarily a consequence of the ban on advertising targeting young people.
At a committee meeting, I asked witnesses from Quebec's Weight Coalition whether the obesity rate went down after Quebec passed the legislation. One witness replied as follows:
The Quebec act, which dates from 1980, was not passed to reduce obesity, but for ethical reasons and because of the vulnerability issues involving all forms of advertising. In terms of data on obesity, we were unfortunately unable to measure them in the past.
This comparison was repeated over and over again during consideration of the bill. However, someone who is rarely quoted is Ronald Lund, who appeared before the committee and told us that Quebec's obesity rate is quite similar to that of the rest of the country.
He said, “In fact, in terms of how fast it exploded and where it is today, the rates of obesity and overweight[edness] in Quebec are basically not statistically different from the rest of Canada.”
I think it is off the website now, but one can still find the link on Quebec's Ministry of Health's own website. It talks about the great increase since 1978 and adds that the good news is that rates there are not significantly different from those in the rest of Canada. Despite a homegrown test, the obesity rates in Quebec are not dramatically different.
Therefore, when we approach Bill S-228 and talk about the legislation, I am just not sure that it is going to work, though I am firmly behind its premise that we want to reduce obesity in children, as we know that childhood obesity is a predeterminate of very chronic disease as they get older.
Certainly, I think there are some problems with the bill, and I am going to address several of those.
First, there was an allusion to the definition of healthy food not being nailed down. At committee we talked about making the definition potentially the same as for front-of-pack labelling, where things high in salt, sugar, or saturated fats would be considered unhealthy. However, that could not be agreed upon, and there is currently no agreement about the definition.
The Liberal government is content to leave that to the regulations, but I think we can see the same problem with regulations that Health Canada is having when considering the Canada food guide and front-of-pack labelling. For example, there are situations where apple strudel would be considered healthy but cheese would not be. Therefore, I really think that not having a definition of healthy food is a weakness in this proposed legislation.
Second, if we are trying to make sure that children under the age of 13 are not exposed to the advertising of whatever we determine unhealthy food to be, the enforcement of that is going to be extremely difficult. For example, as per the conversations we had, does that mean television ads after nine o'clock at night could potentially be allowed to advertise some of these things? The problem is that there are parents who are not parenting well or are allowing their children to stay up past nine o'clock, and so we cannot really be sure at any point in time that we would not be targeting that audience. What about signs? What about billboards? I mean, there would not really be an opportunity to enforce this without a huge number of people basically policing all forms of media.
We know that things put in place by the Liberal government have not been well enforced and we expect to see further ones. For example, with the forthcoming marijuana legislation, clearly there was an effort made to restrict advertising to make sure that it did not appear to be cool to smoke marijuana. However, the government did nothing with enforcement with regard to the huge number of T-shirts and other paraphernalia that exist. The Senate brought an amendments, which were not accepted. Again, there is no enforcement. With respect to Bill S-5, the proposed tobacco legislation, we know that enforcement activity is needed when people who are not authorized to produce and distribute are doing it. However, the 60% cigarette contraband rate in Ontario, for example, and I think 30% or 40% across the country, shows a lack of enforcement. Therefore, I really think that this proposed piece of legislation would definitely have difficulty with enforcement.
Also, do we really need to have the government telling us what we can and cannot eat? I am all about personal freedom and individual accountability. When I was growing up, we had all the sugared cereals. We had Tony the Tiger, Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, Alpha-Bits, and I consumed all of those, along with toast dipped in maple syrup. My mother made us bologna sandwiches. However, I can tell members that there was not a lot of obesity, because we were all outside running around and playing. Therefore, if the government really wants to address obesity, I think the call to action should be to get young people active again. When I was growing up, there was a federal program in place called ParticipACTION, which was designed to get people out and running around. I certainly think that would be more effective in achieving results.
Members can see from my earlier testimony that many people from Quebec are saying that the rates there are not different from those in the rest of Canada. Therefore, this legislation is not going to have the impact we would want it to have.
As well, the senator who introduced this proposed legislation is a multiple Olympic champion. She was fit, and even in her senior years she was driving fitness activities here on the Hill. However, I would point out that she did choose in her career to advertise Mars bars, and I do not think anyone thought it was a problem for an athlete to do that. However, she had the personal freedom to choose that, and now she wants to remove that personal freedom from other athletes who may choose to do that. I certainly am able to exercise, eat occasionally at McDonald's, and eat chips from time to time. It is a balance. I think it is a question of moderation.
Therefore, for all of the reasons I have cited, including the difficulties in enforcing the proposed legislation, the fact that I do not believe the legislation would work, and the government's interference where I believe there should be personal freedom, individual accountability, and good parenting, I will not be supporting this legislation.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 17th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON
Mr. Speaker, with respect to Bill S-228, the Minister of Health stood in the House and promised that sports scholarship programs would be exempt from this legislation in order to ensure that activities promoting healthy lifestyles and choices would continue.
I brought to committee an amendment mapping exactly what the minister had committed to and it was rejected. Could the member comment on why the Liberals did not keep their promise?
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
September 17th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB
moved that Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand here today as a sponsor of Bill S-228, the child health protection act, at its third and final reading in Parliament.
I would like to begin by thanking my fellow colleagues on the Standing Committee on Health for their thoughtful review of the legislation. It was an honour to work with all of them and I look forward to continuing to work together on issues affecting Canadians.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic of such a magnitude that it is a matter of national concern. Today, one in three Canadian children is either overweight or obese. We know that obesity is linked to chronic conditions and illnesses, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers, and its effects are compounded if the onset is premature.
During my career as a physician, I noticed more of my patients were overweight or obese and I was seeing instances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in younger and younger people. According to the World Obesity Federation, if current trends continue, more than 10 million adults in Canada will be obese by 2025 and treating health problems caused by obesity will cost Canada nearly $34 billion per year.
In its final report presented on January 25, 2016, the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity found that there is unequivocal evidence that the marketing of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages has a negative impact on childhood obesity. The report recommended that any attempt to tackle childhood obesity should include a reduction in the exposure of children to marketing. This bill takes concrete steps to address this public health issue by eliminating the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.
During the committee stage of this bill, I introduced two consequential amendments to the legislation. The first was to alter the definition of a child from 17 years of age to 13 years of age. During Health Canada's consultation with stakeholders, it became clear that any regime built on restrictions aimed at older teenagers would be subjected to considerable legal risks associated with a restriction on freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently, there is a strong precedent for defining a child as under 13 in the context of advertising restrictions in Quebec and the province has withstood a charter challenge that was fully upheld at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Recognizing there is evidence concerning the vulnerability of teenagers to marketing, as well as the experience in Quebec where industry shifted marketing efforts to teenagers when restrictions were imposed on younger children, I moved a second amendment that requires Parliament to conduct a mandatory review of the legislation, with a focus on the definition of children within five years of the act coming into force. Through the parliamentary review of the legislation, the government would also be obliged to report publicly on compliance with the bill and on progress toward our common goal of healthier children of all ages. This work would ensure that, if necessary, we will have the data needed to support a broadening of restrictions at a future date.
During this bill's second reading and committee stage, there were also questions regarding the regulations that would be established. Recently, Health Canada released the document, “Restricting Marketing of Unhealthy Food and Beverages to Children: An Update on Proposed Regulations”. In this document, Health Canada stated that the new regulations would define “unhealthy” food, set out factors to determine if an advertisement is directed at children and set out exemptions to the prohibition, such as for children's sports sponsorship.
There has been much discussion as to what qualifies as unhealthy foods and beverages. As such, Health Canada is considering a model to define “unhealthy” food as foods having a front-of-package symbol, as proposed in draft regulations, or exceeding the threshold for the nutrient content claims, such as low in sodium and salt, low in saturated fatty acids and/or low in sugars. The Specific Nutrient Content Claim Requirements, such as the ones previously listed, are used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to quantify food claims made by manufacturers. I encourage my colleagues to review the Specific Nutrient Content Claim Requirements for salt, sodium, saturated fatty acids and Health Canada's proposed requirements for sugars, for the exact quantities under the proposed regulations and for what amounts of sodium, fats and sugars would qualify a food or beverage as being unhealthy.
With regard to the factors to determine if an advertisement is directed at children, we need to consider that the impact of marketing to children is a result of both exposure to unhealthy food ads through settings and media channels and the power of the marketing techniques used.
As such, the proposed approach addresses both by considering three primary elements: settings, media channels and advertising techniques. Settings would include places, events or activities, and could include day cares, schools and children's clubs, as well as children's concerts and festivals, among others.
Health Canada would determine certain factors related to the settings, such as whether the setting is one where children are generally or frequently in attendance, and the nature and purpose of the event or activity determining whether unhealthy food advertising is child-directed.
Under the proposed regulations, marketing to children would be prohibited in child-directed settings. Where the audience has both adults and children, the marketing of unhealthy foods would be restricted only if the advertisement itself is found to have child appeal and would be prohibited if the characteristics of the ad, such as colour, theme and/or language, were clearly directed at children.
Children are also exposed to advertising through a variety of media channels, including digital applications, Internet, television, films and print. Health Canada is currently exploring the use of factors such as the nature and purpose of the media, whether it was intended or designed for children and whether children constitute a significant portion of the audience when determining whether unhealthy food advertising is child-directed.
With regards to the audience portion, Health Canada is considering a prohibition of marketing to children when the proportion of children in the viewing audience is over 15%. For media channels where the proportion of children in the viewing audience is less than 15%, the marketing of unhealthy food will be restricted only if the advertisement is found to have clear child appeal. With regards to determining advertising techniques with child appeal, it must be understood that a wide range of powerful techniques are used to advertise foods to children. Therefore, Health Canada will need to determine whether the design, technique or characteristic of the advertisement target will influence or appeal to children. For example, an ad for confectionery treats depicting child-appealing elements such as cartoon images and/or children's toys would be prohibited.
Over the past several months, there have been concerns that there could be a negative impact on access to community sports if sponsorships were prohibited. In its proposed regulations, Health Canada will exempt children's sport sponsorships to address these concerns, with only specific techniques designed to appeal to children under 13, such as mascots or product giveaways, being prohibited.
Marketing to children would be allowed for community sports teams, sporting events, sporting leagues and associations, and individual child athletes. For example, in the context of a sporting event where a company is supplying sports jerseys to the team, its logo can appear on the sports jerseys.
Working on this legislation has been a long yet rewarding process. When I was practising medicine, I would too often treat patients suffering from the numerous medical complications due to obesity. While I am not in the emergency room to treat patients suffering from these illnesses now, I am here, in the House of Commons, as a representative of my community, to address the preventable issues that are hurting our society and burdening our health care system.
We now have an opportunity to address childhood obesity, which should frankly be a non-partisan issue. That is why I am calling upon all members of this House to show their support and prove we are united in fighting this epidemic.
Cannabis ActGovernment Orders
June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON
Madam Speaker, I would like to say that this will probably be my last opportunity to speak to Bill C-45, so I want to make sure I give it full coverage.
The government says that the reason it is bringing in this legislation is that what is in place now is not working. What is proposed under Bill C-45 is not going to work either, even with the many amendments that have been brought forward.
What was this bill supposed to do in the first place? If we refer to the purpose of the bill, it is supposed to “protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis”. We can see right away a couple of things in the bill that are going to put cannabis into the hands of young children. First is clause 8, which would allow young people aged 12 to 17 to have up to five grams of cannabis. That is the wrong message in any universe.
We have talked about home grow and how when people have in excess of 600 grams of cannabis growing in a house, young people are likely to get hold of it, in the same way they get hold of liquor in the liquor cabinet. This is certainly not going to keep cannabis out of the hands of young children.
Furthermore, I would say that if the government has a belief that the systems being put in place in some provinces are going to help out, let me assure the House that Kathleen Wynne put in a process in Ontario of LCBO-type stores and delivery. For people in Sarnia—Lambton, the closest store is in London. If they called their drug dealers today, in about 30 minutes they could have whatever quantity they wanted delivered to their houses for about $7 a gram. The government has proposed a price of $10 a gram, with $1 in tax on top of that. If it thinks that is going to work to displace the organized crime that is in place, it is sadly mistaken.
The other item I want to talk about with respect to youth is the public education that was supposed to happen. The Canadian Medical Association has been clear that among young people under the age of 25 who use cannabis, 30% will have severe mental illness issues, such as psychotic disorders, bipolar, anxiety, and depression, and 10% will become addicted. Where is the public education on that? Where is the message to tell young people today that this is harmful? That message is not out there. Young people are saying, “It's no more harmful than alcohol.” They are not getting the message.
The only public campaign that has been done was done by the Minister of Public Safety, who did a brief TV commercial to let kids know that they should not drive while they are drug-impaired, which, while true, is totally inadequate to have the kind of public education that was recommended by Colorado and the State of Washington. Colorado did $10 million worth of public education for a population that is lot smaller than what Canada has. The State of Washington did the same.
We are certainly not going to achieve the first objective of keeping it out of the hands of children. What about some of the others? Will we provide for only the legal production of cannabis “to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis”? If we look at all the places that have legalized marijuana, we see that in Colorado, which allowed home grow, it still has significant issues with organized crime. The police have a lot of nuisance complaints, and there are entire residential neighbourhoods that smell. There are lots of problems there.
We can look at the State of Washington, which decided that it would not allow home grow, except in the case of medicinal marijuana. It was able, in three years, to reduce organized crime to less than 20%. Because it had set the age at 21, it was able to make it difficult for young people to actually get hold of marijuana. It is unlikely that 21-year-olds would be sharing with 17-year-olds, unlike with the legislation we have before us.
Another problem that has not been addressed by the government with respect to home grow concerns property-owner rights. In Ontario and Quebec, once this legislation is passed, property owners would be unable to prevent people from growing marijuana in their houses. For those who are maybe less experienced, when growing marijuana, there can often be a mould problem in the house. I have been approached by the real estate associations, which have asked questions. Currently, when there is a home grow in a house, and the house is sold, they have to do a total remediation for the mould and a recertification of the house. They want to know if they are going to have to do that for all the home grows. That question has not been answered by the government.
The other question that has not been answered by the government has to do with the impact at the border. I live in a border community. Conversations have been had with Homeland Security and with border officials. They have said, “Canada is changing its law. We are not changing our law federally. It still is illegal federally, and we are not adding resources because of Canada's law.” Dogs will sniff. If people have second-hand smoke residue on their clothes, if a kid borrowed the car and happened to be out with other kids who were smoking marijuana, if people smoke themselves and do not happen to have any with them but have the residue, the dogs will sniff it out, and people will be pulled over into secondary, and they will go through the standard procedure there. The problem is that there is not enough secondary for the number of people who will be pulled over. When asked what they will do then, they said they would put a cone in the lane the person is in and perform the secondary inspection there, which will back everything up. They have informed us to expect an increase of up to 300% in wait times at the border.
The government has known about this for two and a half years. It has done nothing to establish any kind of agreement with the government of the U.S., other than to say to make sure that people tell the truth. That, of course, is great advice, but it will not prevent the wait times and the problems that are going to be seen at the border.
Furthermore, the government has not educated young people to understand that if they are caught with marijuana in the U.S., it is a lifetime ban from that country. The U.S. is not the only country that will ban people for the possession of marijuana. There are a lot of countries in the world. Young people who intend to have a global career are not being informed about this, and there could be very adverse consequences from the public education that has not happened.
This bill was also supposed to “reduce the burden on the criminal justice system”. Unfortunately, we know that the justice minister is behind the eight ball in terms of putting judges in place. She is about 60 short. Because of that, we see murderers and rapists going free due to Jordan's principle. If there were an intent on the part of the Liberals to try to clear the backlog and make sure that those who have committed more serious crimes receive punishment, one of the things they could have done, as was suggested many times, even since last September, was let those who have marijuana charges drop off the list and get out of the queue so that the more serious offences could be prosecuted. Of course, the Liberals have done nothing with respect to that, and so again, they are not going to actually offload them from the system. In fact, there would be more criminal charges under this legislation than previously existed, because now, if people had five plants instead of four, that would be an offence. Now, if they had 31 grams instead of 30, that would be an offence. Now there would be offences for transferring it to younger people. There would be a lot of offences that did not exist previously, so definitely, we will not achieve that goal.
There was the goal to ”provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis”. Now that they would allow home grow, and everyone is going to be doing their own thing, there would actually be no management of the quality control of this product. That is also not acceptable.
Some of the other unanswered questions we see have to do with workplace safety. This was raised when the marijuana issue was studied by the original council. There was testimony brought to committee. There were questions raised all over the place. How are we going to protect the employers, who have the liability, and the other employees, who are worried? They are worried about people who may come to work drug impaired. We do not want to be flying with Air Canada and have the pilot impaired. We do not want to have people operating nuclear plants who may be drug impaired.
Bill C-46 was supposed to be the companion legislation to Bill C-45. Bill C-46 was going to allow mandatory and random testing on the roadside, because, as people know, it is dangerous to smoke drugs and then drive a car. That was going to open the door, then, for people to say that if it is dangerous to smoke drugs and drive a car, perhaps it is also dangerous to then drive a plane or drive a train or operate a nuclear plant, or any of these other things. The question of workplace safety and how we are going to protect and what legislation is going into place is a total blank space.
We have not looked to our neighbours to the south that have legalized and have both mandatory and random testing in place. I worked on many projects, and I actually had an office in the States at one point in time, so I know that American employers are able to screen people before they hire them. They are able to mandatory test them, and they are able to random test them. The government has totally lacked leadership in addressing the issue of workplace safety, etc.
With respect to the actual amendments that have come, some were good and some were not good. One amendment that was brought would allow 18-year-olds to share their marijuana or allow parents in a home to share their marijuana. I am glad the government decided not to accept that one.
I am still concerned about the fact that there is even marijuana in the house. However, if that amendment was accepted it definitely would not have not been keeping marijuana out of the hands of young children.
One of the amendments that they did not accept had to do with the banning of promotional things like T-shirts, caps, and flags that would have a cannabis symbol on them. The government did not accept this amendment from the Senate. I am very concerned about that.
There are a lot of Canadians out there who are worried that when marijuana is legalized in Canada they are going to use Canada Day flags that have cannabis on them. Everybody will have a T-shirt with cannabis on it. That will be disgusting. It will absolutely denigrate our country and the people who have served our country and made Canada a proud country. It will deface that. The government has allowed people to continue to have that kind of paraphernalia by refusing the language here. It is total hypocrisy because under Bill S-228, which talks about prohibiting unhealthy advertising to children, we would not want to see pop or something like that on a T-shirt or a flag. However, with cannabis, it is okay. I am totally opposed to that.
Another thing that the government should have taken into account was the amendment that was brought on capping the potency of THC. We have heard reports from all over Canada, as people are increasingly trying marijuana for the first time or experiencing B.C. bud, which purportedly has one of the highest THC contents and a lot of potency, that people are presenting at the emergency wards with uncontrollable vomiting due to THC poisoning. Knowing that a part of the intent of this bill is to protect the health of Canadians and of youth, I cannot understand why the government would not recognize that there needs to be some control on the potency of things that are out in the marketplace.
Some of the amendments were compassionate and talked about giving people more time to pay their fines. I thought that was good that the government accepted those. I also thought it was good that they would, for young people, ages 12 to 17, who were experiencing an offence, look at ticketed offences, which is something that we would have supported, and restorative justice options.
If we look to countries that are doing the best job of intervening and helping people to get off drugs, look to Portugal. If anyone is found in possession of drugs there, they are given an intervention with a medical person, a psychiatrist, and a legal person. They then try to figure out what the root cause is of why these people are self-medicating or why are they becoming addicted, and what can be done to help get them off of it, in terms of mental health therapies or drug addiction therapies, etc. We need to look at this whole thing.
The other part that I think is unfortunate is that the indigenous people have not been adequately consulted. I was very disappointed to find that in September of last year, when we first heard at committee from Chief Day and from the Métis nation, they said they had not been adequately consulted. It is disheartening to hear that again when this went before the Senate, the same message came out that they had not been adequately consulted, and that they wanted to have the ability within their own communities to define whether or not cannabis would be allowed. Apparently under federal law, it was clarified to them that if it is a federal right of Canadians to possess cannabis, then it is not something that they would be able to go against. There was some resistance about that based on the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples. I think that was not resolved to their satisfaction.
It is worrisome that the government continues to rush ahead. It says that this is the most important relationship, the nation-to-nation relationship, yet it is willing to go and throw gasoline on a fire in terms of moving ahead when it has been asked not to do so.
Some of the other questions that arose at committee that really have not been adequately answered have to do with a lot of the detailed specifics about who is going to pay. Municipalities are saying there will be a cost to them to implement it, but they have not been included in the cost breakdown or the agreements that have happened. That is of concern. There have also been concerns raised by people who currently are consuming medical marijuana, and their understanding is that they are going to be paying tax on that.
Typically, in Canada, prescription medicines are not taxed. Therefore, as long as people have a prescription from a doctor for their medicinal marijuana, my expectation would be that it would not be taxed. However, that is not what the government is saying. Also, there is language in the budget bill that is a little suspicious, which states it would exempt people from paying tax on medicinal marijuana that has a drug identification number. The problem with that is that there are no medications that have a drug identification number because there are so many different components in marijuana that the companies have not been able to spend the research dollars required to characterize them or to effectively control the quality of them so that they could acquire a number like that. Therefore, that is a meaningless promise, for sure.
There were some amendments that were brought to bring this legislation in line with the tobacco legislation. I am in favour of having those things aligned. However, it seems unusual that the government would be spending $80 million to get people to stop smoking and then $800 million to get people to start smoking marijuana, especially when the Minister of Health just stood up and talked about how the government knows there are harmful effects.
One of the things I find very interesting, from a timing point of view, is that today Health Canada took the harmful impacts of cannabis off of its website. That was something that had been on the website. I had someone that brought it to my notice, and sent me a screenshot of what used to be there and a screenshot of what is not there now. It is very interesting that on the day that the Liberals want to see this legislation pass into law, it would suddenly take off of the website the information that shows there are harmful effects from cannabis not only to young people but also others.
Therefore, I would request that the government not hide things. Rather, it should try to be open and transparent, as it says it is always trying to be, and put that information back on the website. Every place that has legalized marijuana has said that one of the most important things to do is to invest in public education, and target that education not just to young people so that they understand the harmful effects this would have on their brains, but also to adults and parents who can influence young people, and the general public so that they can understand as well.
I am very concerned about some of the unintended consequences that will happen as a result of this legislation. I know there are people already smoking marijuana in Canada today. However, when it becomes legal, there will be many more who will decide to try it. They may not be informed about what the impact will be when they cross the border or what the impacts might be on their mental health or that of their children. They may not understand what the health impacts will be for them. They may not understand the ramifications with respect to their place of work and how they are going to impact both their employer and those who work around them.
That said, I am very opposed to the legalization of marijuana, which I have said on many occasions, not just because it is bad for people but because this bill has so many holes in it and so many unanswered questions, and there will be so many bad, unintended consequences for Canadians, that it will be left to the Conservative Party, when we come to victory in 2019, to clean up the mess made by the current government's moving forward in this rushed and irresponsible fashion to implement this bill.
This bill will absolutely not keep marijuana out of the hands of young children. It will not get organized crime out of this business. It will not unload our criminal justice system. It certainly will not provide access to a quality-controlled supply.
What we can expect is that on Canada Day there will be a lot of people out with their T-shirts on, totally insulting those Canadians who are proud of our country and who are not in agreement, and there are a lot of Canadians who are not in agreement with this legislation.
June 7th, 2018 / 7:50 a.m.
Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Minister, for appearing.
I have a document here. It's a request that Health Canada sent out. It's the cost-benefit analysis survey that you've sent out to food processors. In it, your department asked, as per Treasury Board guidelines, that they provide a cost-benefit analysis, which I think would amount to Bill S-228. In there you're asking many, many questions that I think industry is very uncomfortable with, and one of them is that the cited costs not include costs related to the reformulating of food.
I'm just curious. If you're asking industry to provide a cost-benefit analysis of marketing, etc., shouldn't the cost of reformulating their goods also be included in the cost-benefit analysis? My understanding is that it costs the industry almost $2 billion to do this, and I'm just wondering if you could provide some comment as to why your department would do this.
Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business
June 6th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton
Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 29, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at report stage of Bill S-228 under private members' business.
The House resumed from June 5 consideration of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), as reported from the committee.
HealthCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings
May 1st, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
Bill Casey Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled “A Study on the Status of Antimicrobial Resistance in Canada and Related Recommendations”.
The sense of urgency with respect to this issue was a really big surprise to me. We heard from professionals in the health care industry about the ineffectiveness of antibiotics and the seriousness of this issue, and that unless something is done it will harm a lot of the great work that has been done in research in the health industry.
I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Health in relation to Bill S-228, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children).
The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.
This was an interesting study. Members of all parties shared their expertise on this issue, and we feel we have improved the bill somewhat.