Evidence of meeting #100 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was advertising.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Nancy Greene Raine  Senator, British Columbia, C
Monique Potvin Kent  Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, As an Individual
David Hammond  Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual
Robert Strang  Chief Medical Officer of Health, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Dr. Hammond, go ahead.

5:30 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

Thank you.

I think it's an excellent question. I actually think you've underlined the importance of restricting marketing. Many parents think that juice and chocolate milk are healthy drinks. In fact, you might know that they have as much or more sugar than a bottle of Coke, for example. That's exactly one of the purposes of the front-of-package labelling. That's one of the purposes of marketing. It is because of marketing that people equate fruit juice with fruit, when in fact it's fundamentally different in terms of how much sugar is in there and how it metabolizes. I actually think that's a very good example of how removing marketing for some of those highly sugared drinks might be effective in terms of improving our diets.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

I'm pretty sure that a Timbit is unhealthy and I'm sure you've had these discussions as well. Would Timbits hockey not be allowed anymore?

5:30 p.m.

Senator, British Columbia, C

Nancy Greene Raine

I would say that kids' hockey would be allowed and should be allowed. If the Tim Hortons corporation wants to sponsor children's hockey, we would encourage that, but the children don't need to be billboards for the product.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

What about Coca-Cola scoreboards? I know in lots of athletic fields across this country, there are Coke and Pepsi billboards and scoreboards, mainly scoreboards. Would they be banned under this measure?

5:30 p.m.

Senator, British Columbia, C

Nancy Greene Raine

These things will be determined in regulations. My humble opinion is that we need to take a good pragmatic look at it. Scoreboards are very nice. They're very expensive. Communities don't have the money in their budgets to buy them. Maybe you could limit the size of the branding on them.

I know, for instance, that in World Cup skiing, headgear sponsorship is allowed. Athletes control the rights to their head gear sponsorship, and they look for sponsors. They have sponsors on their headgear, so whenever their picture is taken, a sponsor is there, but the International Ski Federation limits the size so that it doesn't overwhelm the other sponsorships they count on for putting on the event. There are ways to do this. It can be limited in the size and amount of branding.

We need to be very careful. Donating to support children's sports, because I believe in it, should be encouraged, but to use it as a promotional and marketing tool, if it's directed to children, is a problem.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

I have to interrupt. The bells are ringing. We've got 25 minutes and 36 seconds. I need unanimous support to keep going. Do we have unanimous support to keep asking questions?

5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Okay.

We can only go for another five minutes, because we have to get back to the votes. We'll go for five minutes.

Go ahead, Dr. Strang.

April 18th, 2018 / 5:35 p.m.

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness

Dr. Robert Strang

I just have a comment about how the last discussion really emphasizes the need to take a very broad look and include all marketing avenues, including sponsorship and product placement. It also emphasizes the need to have a robust monitoring framework, because industry is very creative, and based on experience with other industries, they will find all sorts of ways to try to get around this. We need to be able to monitor that and adjust the regulations as industry finds ways to be creative to get around the rules.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

The floor is yours, Professor Potvin Kent.

5:35 p.m.

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Monique Potvin Kent

I just wanted to make a comment that 20 to 30 years ago, everyone was worried that all artistic endeavours and sporting events in Canada were going to be cancelled because tobacco sponsorship was being banned, but we haven't seen that in Canada. Other companies will step forward.

The other thing I wanted to mention was that in the province of Quebec, sponsorship is allowed. It is one of the exceptions that they have, but they allow it in the way that Senator Greene Raine was talking about. The branding has to be very subtle. They're not allowed to have any big imagery with any type of sponsorship that occurs at children's events, for children's sports, etc., so it can also be done in a subtle way.

Thank you.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Monsieur Dubé, go ahead. We have to leave then when you're done.

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will be brief since our time is limited.

Being from Quebec, the Rogers Cup, which is also held in Toronto, comes to mind. It used to be called the Du Maurier Cup. I think that illustrates your point well. The same thing happened with the F1 a few years ago because it no longer had the cigarette sponsorship. Other sponsors were found, but it caused a controversy. So I understand what you are saying.

I would like to hear your thoughts about age, that is, choosing between the ages of 13 and 17. As a teenager, which was not that long ago, I would not have wanted to hear this, but a teenager is ultimately a child. I believe you said that in your comments, Madam Senator.

Why should a distinction based on age be made it this act? Why should we be concerned about its legitimacy before the courts? Consuming alcohol and voting are not allowed before the age of 18. In short, teenagers are deemed not to have the faculties needed to do all kinds of things, and yet we think they are able to make the appropriate decision in this regard.

I would like to hear your thoughts on that.

5:35 p.m.

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Monique Potvin Kent

Certainly. I was going to say that the law in Quebec only goes up to age 13, so what we do see in Quebec is a lot of targeting of teenagers. Teenagers are definitely a population vulnerable to advertising. I'm sure you'll have other experts talk about teen brain development, but in the teen brain their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, so they are very vulnerable to food and beverage advertising.

They are also very influenced by their peers. They're at an identity formation stage of their lives.

One of the things about digital marketing is that it's very different from other types of marketing, because the boundaries between entertainment and marketing are very amorphous. With teenagers, we find that they often don't even recognize that they're being advertised to when it's in a digital format. They're not able to pick it out. It's not like picking out a TV advertisement, so it's inherently unfair to be advertising it to them.

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

I am sorry to interrupt, but my time is limited.

I would like to move on to something else: aside from brain development, financial independence is another aspect, isn't it? For the first time, teenagers are earning their own money. They are learning to spend and make choices. Instead of nagging their parents, they make their own choices.

Does that come into play as well?

5:35 p.m.

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Monique Potvin Kent

Absolutely. Obviously, lots of teenagers have part-time jobs. They have more pocket money from birthdays, etc. They have financial independence and they have lots of mobility. They're walking around. Teenagers are not making good food choices in Canada right now. We know that. I think that not marketing to kids would have a tremendous impact on changing their food preferences and their food intake as well.

5:40 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

There is no question whatsoever that if the age limit were increased to 17 and below, the marketing restrictions would be more effective in public health outcomes.

I'm somewhat perplexed by people mentioning that there's some legal threshold. As you said, the most typical legal threshold is the one that is set at 18 or 19 for alcohol. That was the threshold used for tobacco marketing and other types of marketing, so we need to be unequivocal about the fact that if this threshold covered marketing, it would not only be more effective for youth but would also restrict ads to kids, who inevitably see what's marketed to youth.

I don't understand when people refer to the legal barrier there, because we already have legal precedents in other domains.

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you very much.

Regarding the digital space, I would like to know whether the growing number of children, even here, who watch Netflix and YouTube rather than conventional television has an impact.

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Dr. Monique Potvin Kent

Traditional media like television are still playing a big role in children's lives, particularly younger children, but as kids get older, they obviously move more and more into digital spheres. In the recent study we did looking at social media, we saw children on the social media apps for just 24 minutes during weekdays and 48 minutes on the weekends, but for teenagers that rate was 136 minutes on the weekends, just on social media sites. That's just one type of digital media they are looking at.

Obviously kids are on digital media, but they're still watching over two hours of television per day.

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Thanks very much.

I'm sorry, but we have to wind up a little early. The bells are ringing, and we have to get across the street to vote.

I want to thank everyone. Your presentations are quite educational for us, quite impressive.

We'll reconvene on Monday.

The meeting is adjourned.