House of Commons Hansard #250 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-24.


Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Phil McColeman Conservative Brantford—Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was at the point of suggesting to my colleagues that they take time to read Bill S-228—about a five-minute investment of their time. They will notice that the bill, as currently drafted, is extremely vague and leaves too many doors open to unintended consequences. We do not know yet what constitutes “unhealthy food”. The definition is not identified. We should disagree with any categorization of any food as unhealthy or bad. If bad or unhealthy, it should not be defined as a food. As well, any food eaten in moderation can form part of a wholesome diet.

Bill S-228 does not provide specifics as to what constitutes marketing for children and types of marketing activities that should be restricted. The bill would likely prohibit an extremely wide range of practices in the form of restrictions on (a) advertising in traditional broadcasting, radio, and print; (b) online and digital content; (c) sponsorships; (d) sales promotions; (e) celebrity and character endorsements; and (f) the use of a brand name, trademark, or logo that is associated with or evokes thoughts of an unhealthy food.

If this is the case, the scope of the marketing revisions under Bill S-228 would likely have negative repercussions on many sectors of business: farming, food manufacturing, advertising, publishing, broadcasting, and retailing, including the small and medium-sized convenience store owners. At no time have we seen a bill before this House with such wide-ranging restrictions on communications and advertising of legal products.

Let me paint a picture of a Canada under this current bill, Bill S-228. A Canada under the bill would mean that youth would be exposed to beer commercials rather than candy bar commercials during the broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada. A Canada under Bill S-228 would also mean that youth could drive a car at age 16 or fly a plane at 15 years of age but still be subjected to restrictions on the marketing of food and beverages. What would happen to Timbits hockey and Tim Hortons summer camps? The very sports teams that keep our children active may struggle to exist.

The lack of differentiation of target audiences for advertising purposes exposes Bill S-228 to a potential constitutional challenge under subsection 2(b) of the charter. The majority of the court in Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec noted that the advertising ban under Quebec's Consumer Protection Act was the least intrusive means, least intrusive on the constitutional right of freedom of commercial speech, including advertising, and was justifiable under section 1 of the charter because the advertisers were still free to direct their message at parents and other adults.

Bill S-228 would give broad discretionary powers to the cabinet to make regulations “setting out the factors to be considered in determining whether unhealthy food is advertised in a manner that is primarily directed at children, including how, when and where an advertisement is communicated”. We must ask ourselves if we as legislators are not abdicating our responsibility when allowing legislation as broadly drafted as is Bill S-228 to enter this House for consideration. The lack of details renders debate and public consultation meaningless, weakening the integrity of our democratic processes and institutions.

With this reversal of roles, with the Senate introducing legislation for consideration by the House, the House must now act as the chamber of sober second thought to reflect the interests of its constituents.

It is also surprising, as my fellow members will notice when they read the bill, to see what is left in the hands of government officials. The definitions in the legislation should be the subject matter of discussion and guidance by this House, not left to the care of others within the bureaucracy, who would be given very wide latitude to address the definition of unhealthy foods.

This would leave Canadian businesses vulnerable to the whims of a few unelected officials who may not appreciate the ramifications of their decisions. I reiterate, who will be impacted by this bill? It will be farmers, small business owners, manufacturers, advertisers, broadcasters, the very heart of job creation, all the way to small convenience store owners.

Our esteemed senators claim that Bill S-228 satisfies the health minister's mandate letter and that similar prohibitions in other jurisdictions, most notably in the province of Quebec, have worked to decrease childhood obesity levels.

It is critical to highlight that Bill S-228 deviates substantially from the Quebec model, despite the Prime Minister's instructions to the health minister in his mandate letter to her to promote public health by introducing new restrictions on commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, similar to those in Quebec. The bill targets children under the age of 17 rather than under 13, although it has been said that the age will be changed. In fact, I am advised that the original bill introduced in the Senate did provide an initial target age of under 13 years of age, which would be compatible with Quebec.

Bill S-228 will be masked as a means to fight childhood obesity. It will be seen as checking the box in the health minister's mandate letter. I believe the health minister would want to ensure that that piece of her mandate letter is properly addressed with evidence-based solutions. Bill S-228 illustrates the dangers of crafting health policies on the basis of dated and, quite frankly, incomplete data.

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada ranks sixth among industrialized countries in respect of its percentage of children who are obese. The number of obese children in Canada is rising dramatically, and it is having a considerable impact on the health of Canadian families and our health care system. It is time that the government took action and remedied this situation.

I am therefore rising to support Bill S-228, which seeks to find solutions to the serious problem of childhood obesity resulting from children's exposure to food marketing. The World Health Organization itself considers the marketing of unhealthy foods as one of the main contributors to obesity.

The NDP have strongly supported this initiative for a long time. In 2012, we introduced Bill C-430, which sought to ban any advertising specifically targeted at children under the age of 13. We therefore applaud the work that was done in relation to the Senate committee's 2016 report on obesity, which led to the drafting of this bill. This report showed that it is essential that we reduce children's exposure to advertising in order to address the issue of childhood obesity. That is an important issue.

Children are being directly targeted by food and beverage marketing. That is why this bill is so important. As the critic for families, children, and social development and the deputy critic for health, I am proud to be speaking on this issue.

I will point out that the committee should discuss the age threshold this bill sets for marketing to children. The only existing legislation on this subject is the Quebec law, which prohibits advertising directed at children under the age of 13, not 17, the age specified in this bill. The bill originally set the age threshold at 13, but after discussion, it was raised to 17. That will require further discussion.

This bill will have to harmonize with Quebec's law. We need to respect the provinces' jurisdiction. The bill should draw on Quebec's law, not contradict it. This bill will make it illegal to market a food or beverage directly to children, which obviously includes the way the labelling and packaging are designed. It also makes it illegal to offer or give gifts or surprises with the purchase of food or beverages.

Urgent action is needed to protect our kids. The numbers are frightening. According to this study, the number of obese children has tripled since the 1980s. It is critical that we take swift and early action on childhood obesity. An obese child is 20% more likely to struggle with weight problems in adulthood. Obese teens are an alarming 80% more likely, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

It is a well-known fact that childhood obesity has terrible effects on children's physical health, and the same is true of their mental health and social lives. Children with poor self-esteem can be in for a lifelong struggle. On top of all that, another harmful effect of childhood obesity is additional health care spending.

Indeed, as obesity rates increase, the associated costs also increase. Once again, the numbers are extremely troubling. The annual economic burden of obesity is estimated to be in the billions of dollars. It is unbelievable. The Senate committee put that figure somewhere between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity.

That is why the government has to put Bill S-228 to a vote. People should no longer have to wait to protect their children from the harmful influence of food and beverage marketing. Parents have enough to worry about without having to fight the influence of marketing on their children.

Francine Forget Marin, director of health promotion and research at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, is certain that children are very vulnerable to advertising because they cannot distinguish between good food and bad.

Marketing directed at children influences their food preferences and eating habits. For example, they will have a tendency to want products that are adorned with a familiar logo or character, such as superheros or princesses. Young people even think that those products taste better than the same product in a different package.

The problem is that most of these advertised products are low in nutritional value. Research by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada showed that children see more than 25 million food and beverage ads on their favourite web sites every year. That is unbelievable. They are completely bombarded and led to believe that the food is good, but it is quite the opposite. More than 90% of the food and drinks advertised online are unhealthy. By limiting access to ads for young audiences, this bill seeks to prevent young people from adopting their parents' unhealthy eating habits by eliminating the problem at the source.

My team presented the bill to Jeunes en santé, an organization in my riding that works to protect and promote the health and well-being of children and adolescents. The organization's coordinator, Véronique Laramée, told us how important it is for messaging directed at young people to focus on healthy eating. For Jeunes en santé, making sure kids know that eating well is good for them and eating foods with lots of sugar and trans fats is bad for them is crucial. Jeunes en santé is to be commended for promoting healthy eating to young people in my riding.

Imagine a world where children are no longer bombarded by ads for products that are bad for their health. The time has come for the federal government to do something to support parents who are trying to make good choices. Children and parents need an environment free from the influence of food and beverage advertising, one that supports healthy, nutritious choices.

I want to congratulate the province of Quebec for its leadership in protecting children from aggressive advertising tactics. In fact, Quebec is the only province that already has legislation in place. Its Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1980. After an almost 10-year battle, the Supreme Court finally decided in 1989 that the Quebec law was constitutional. Since then, the Quebec law 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.

There are very clear differences at the provincial level. I had the opportunity to meet with members of Quebec's Weight Coalition, who confirmed that there is a striking difference in children's exposure to advertising from province to province. It is time that the federal government remedy this situation.

Bill S-228 has been well received in Quebec, since it will complement the existing legislation. In that regard, Quebec's Weight Coalition reminded me that the exceptions in the Quebec law continue to pose a problem. The Quebec law still allows packaging and advertisements in store windows and displays, and of course, that marketing targets children in particular.

The time has come for the federal government to take action. Studies and research have been done and recommendations have been made, yet the epidemic of childhood obesity has still not been stopped. This bill is the first real step in the right direction.

Our children need to be able to make the right choices, and we need to be able to regulate advertising. If we want a healthy population, we need to act now in order to offer our children the greatest gift of all, the gift of health.

This bill makes the health of all of our children a priority and emphasizes the importance of having all the necessary tools to protect them. Quebec addressed this issue nearly 30 years ago. It is high time the federal government did the same.

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario


Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to have the opportunity to rise to speak in support of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children).

With the introduction of this bill last fall, the hon. Senator Nancy Green Raine took a significant step forward in protecting Canada's children from the negative influence of commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages. The bill before us today represents an effective means to bring about real change in this area. That said, I also believe that the new amendments to be moved by the sponsor at committee are critical to the success of this important endeavour.

Taken together, the decision to change the definition of children to “under age 13” and the inclusion of a mandatory review of the legislation within five years of its introduction will strengthen Bill S-228. Specifically, the amendments will be effective in protecting children under the age of 13 from the negative influence of the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages now, while monitoring the impacts on teenagers aged between 14 and 17.

We cannot underestimate how important this piece of legislation is to the health and well-being of our children. We are all well aware that a nutritious and balanced diet is important to promote good health. In fact, a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent obesity and devastating chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Over the past few decades, the Government of Canada has made great strides in supporting Canadians by promoting good eating habits, through the long-standing Canada's food guide, the introduction of the nutrition facts table, and improvements in the way foods are labelled.

However, a number of factors are challenging public health efforts and making it increasingly difficult for Canadians to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Because of this, we are seeing alarming rates of obesity and chronic diseases in this country. More than one in five Canadians lives with chronic diseases, and the rates is increasing. The social and economic costs have become unsustainable. Chronic diseases caused by poor diets have been costing the Canadian economy at least $27 billion every year, and that cost is growing. Perhaps even more disturbing is that our most vulnerable population, our children, are beginning to carry this heavy burden.

Our children are being brought up in an environment where processed, unhealthy and fast food is the norm. Children are not only eating fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended, but they are also exceeding the amount of sugar, salt, and saturated fat they should be consuming. The statistics are alarming. Recent research shows that toddlers are consuming up to 27% of their calories from sugar, and nearly a third of Canadian children are overweight or obese. As a result, this population is now more at risk than previous generations for developing health problems later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

This is a serious health crisis that requires our immediate attention. More needs to be done to improve the health of our children and to reduce their consumption of foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat.

Current public health efforts to curb this growing crisis are being hampered by the powerful and pervasive marketing messages for unhealthy food, particularly those high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. These marketing strategies often appeal to children's emotions and influence their eating habits.

To be clear, we are not only referring to the commercials that play during children's television programming. Modern food advertising to children takes on many forms going well beyond traditional media. Today's advertising includes sophisticated strategies that make use of online venues, product placement, and brand recognition. For example, according to a recent study, today's children, collectively, are exposed to a shocking 25 million food and beverage ads every single year on their favourite websites alone. Children are also exposed to marketing every day in schools, restaurants, cinemas, and grocery stores. These industry practices include celebrity endorsements, promotions and incentive programs designed to entice children to remember, prefer, and select specific company brands.

Ninety percent of foods advertised online to children are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. It is not surprising that marketing has been identified by leading experts as a major contributor to childhood obesity.

Bill S-228 puts forward a legislative strategy under the Food and Drugs Act to address marketing to children by imposing prohibitions on the advertising of unhealthy food and beverages directed at children. Most parents are not aware of the extent to which their children are exposed to these advertisements, or the potential negative impacts on them.

We are not alone internationally in battling this problem. The World Health Organization and the United Nations have endorsed government action against harmful, unhealthy food marketing to children. Several countries have already taken action, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, Sweden, and Ireland.

Here at home, voluntary efforts on the part of industry have not proven to be effective, and the time has come for Canada to take stronger action. I would like to remind the House that the Minister of Health has also committed to restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children as part of her mandate requirements. These restrictions will complement Health Canada's comprehensive healthy eating strategy, which aims to make the healthier choice the easier choice.

The strategy also includes other initiatives, such as revising Canada's food guide to provide dietary recommendations based on the latest scientific evidence. Health Canada is also improving food packaging labels to make it easier for Canadians to understand what is in the food they are buying. In addition, Health Canada is pursuing sodium reduction targets, and the Minister of Health has already banned industrial trans fat in packaged foods with regulations that will come into force next year.

Getting and keeping our children active is key to their living long, healthy, and productive lives. To support this goal, the Minister of Health has made it clear to me that she will advance regulations under Bill S-228 to exempt the sponsorship of community sporting activities from marketing restrictions. Many community organizations have expressed concern about the impact this might have on important sporting activities, and the minister has listened to them and is prepared to respond appropriately.

Community sporting activities provide social and health benefits to our kids. However, since we also know that sponsorship is a powerful marketing tactic, the government will engage with the sports community to better understand the risks and benefits of sponsorship to ensure that our policy approach achieves our goal of the best health outcomes for our children.

I commend the Minister of Health for her leadership in this area. Together, these measures will result in real change for Canadians and, in particular, Canadian youth.

I urge all members of the House to support this legislation so that our children have a chance to grow up healthy without the negative influence of the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages.

It is important that our children and future generations have the tools they need to make healthy food choices. With the right tools and with restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods, I am confident that we will be able to bend the curve in the obesity and chronic disease crisis.

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


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

6:05 p.m.


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

6:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate. The the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound has approximately two minutes, and then he will be able to continue the next time the item comes up for debate..

Child Health Protection ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


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 ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound will have eight minutes and 45 seconds remaining for his speech when the debate resumes.

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

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, this evening's debate is following on the eve of the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver, in September, where my legislation on the issue of a solution for abandoned vessels was finally, after decades of pushing, especially by coastal communities, on the convention floor. Eighteen-hundred delegates endorsed my legislation, Bill C-352, which I had built in co-operation with coastal communities. It included all the solutions they had asked for over 15 years of advocating both to the B.C. Liberal government and federal governments, both Liberal and Conservative.

As we know, two weeks ago, a number of Liberal majority manoeuvres killed the bill, sank it, so to speak. It did not even come to the floor for a debate and a vote, which is quite unusual. My question now to the government is how it will incorporate into its legislation, Bill C-64, the transport minister's bill, all that advice from coastal communities.

As a reminder, fixing vessel registration was a major part of my bill. Piloting a vessel turn-in program, kind of like what we have done successfully in many provinces with old abandoned automobiles by finding incentives and programs to encourage people to turn them in so they can be recycled and dealt with responsibly, would be a good way to deal with the backlog. Second would be creating good green jobs by supporting local marine salvage industries and co-operating with recycling organizations to find new markets for fibreglass and other difficult to recycle material. That links to the previous idea as well. A vessel turn-in program or a boat amnesty would help create the critical mass that might cause some economies of scale to deal with abandoned vessels.

Finally, to end the jurisdictional runaround, would be making one agency the go-to on dealing with abandoned vessels. What we proposed was the Coast Guard. The government's bill continues to have responsibility apportioned out over a number of different ministries, so one would need to have an org chart to figure out who was responsible. That is not tenable for coastal communities.

Since we last talked about this, I have had dozens of endorsements from local governments. I very much want to know how the Liberal government, having sunk my legislation, will still recycle and use the material in it in a way that reflects the multitude of asks from local governments. The Islands Trust Council, the City of Nanaimo, the Town of Ladysmith, the City of Campbell River, and the Regional District of Nanaimo all endorsed my bill. There was the City of Parksville; the City of Victoria; the Village of Queen Charlotte, in Haida Gwaii; the District of Tofino; the District of Oak Bay; the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District; the Powell River Regional District; the Village of Tahsis; the District of Ucluelet; Sooke; Sechelt; Metchosin; the City of Powell River; the Township of Esquimalt; the District of Kitimat; the District of Fort St. James; the town of Burlington, in Newfoundland; the Township of Nipigon, in Ontario; the Town of View Royal; the District of North Saanich; and the list goes on.

The call is clear. Local governments need their solutions inserted into this bill. How will the government respond?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario


Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I rise again to reiterate our government's commitment to address the serious problem of abandoned and wrecked vessels that are negatively affecting our coastal and shoreline communities. We know and understand the issues these problem vessels represent. We have made numerous announcements and launched several initiatives that clearly demonstrate our commitment to addressing these long-standing issues.

I would remind the House that when we launched the oceans protection plan, just over a year ago, we said we would deliver a national strategy on abandoned and wrecked vessels. We are delivering. Let me explain how.

First, I would like to remind members that in the past year our government has launched two short-term funding programs designed to support the cleanup and removal of legacy abandoned vessels and wrecks. This includes Transport Canada's abandoned boats program, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans abandoned and wrecked vessels removal program, which collectively cover all waters in Canada.

These two programs recognize that local communities, ports, and harbours, particularly those that are small and remote, often do not have the resources to cover the costs of removing and disposing of smaller abandoned and wrecked vessels. These programs will deliver tangible results. They will get smaller problem vessels out of the water, and indeed, this has already started under these programs.

The abandoned boats program also includes two additional sub-components. One is focused on education and outreach to help inform vessel owners of their responsibilities. The other is focused on research into options to improve vessel recycling and design.

Our government also committed to ensuring vessel owners can be held accountable. We are delivering on this commitment as well, with the introduction of the wrecked, abandoned, or hazardous vessels act, or Bill C-64, on October 30. Drawing upon best international practices, this piece of legislation is more robust and comprehensive than anything ever seen previously in Canada.

As the key preventative component of the national strategy, it will strengthen vessel owner responsibility and liability, address irresponsible vessel management, and enhance federal powers to take more proactive action on problem vessels, before they become bigger problems.

Simply put, our government is delivering on the commitments we have made to resolve the long-standing abandoned vessels challenge. We have short-term and long-term preventative and removal measures in place, or being put in place. Everything will not get done overnight, but progress will be made continuously as part of an overall, comprehensive strategy. We look forward to the committee's study of Bill C-64.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, the question still remains. Of the very specific elements I mentioned, how will they be accommodated into the government's legislation? There is nothing in Bill C-64 that contains any of the elements I just mentioned. They are integral to its success. Dealing with the backlog is necessary for dealing with the overall problem, as opposed to the more forward-looking approach of the government's bill. Fixing vessel registration is vital. The government will not be able to send a penalty or a ticket to an irresponsible owner if it cannot find out who that owner is. They have to work together.

I ask again. The government's offer of $260,000 and $300,000 this year is a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of boats that need to be removed. I would like to hear some specifics from the government.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to reassure members that we are committed to protecting and preserving our marine environment and ecosystems, local economies, and the health and safety of our citizens who are affected by abandoned and wrecked vessels. These issues matter to coastal and shoreline communities, and they matter to us.

We have made significant investments to address this issue, as part of the $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. Quite simply, we have launched two new funding programs to support the cleanup of small high-priority vessels and wrecks across Canada, support education and outreach, and support research into vessel recycling and design. We have introduced comprehensive new legislation to create the required federal legislative framework to deal with future occurrences of wrecked, abandoned, or hazardous vessels, while also reducing the impact of those that do occur.

Our strategy aligns with the best practices around the world and delivers on our commitment to protect our valuable coasts and—

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House again today to talk about small business tax changes, which is something that we have asked a lot of questions about this fall.

The question on which I expressed an interest in getting more information was one I asked of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and the finance minister are both very wealthy men who have structured their personal affairs in such a way as to protect them from paying the same sort of taxes that they want to impose on our small businesses. Therefore, the question I asked the Prime Minister was quite simple: Would any of the changes being envisioned by the government to increase taxes on small businesses apply to the family fortunes of the Prime Minister or the finance minister?

Today, in question period, the finance minister finally told us that the government would be providing some information tomorrow on some of the changes that are going to be imposed on small businesses. Therefore, I will ask the question again.

As a result of the changes that are coming to small business owners, such as the tax increases and changes in the way taxes are applied to small businesses, will the family fortunes of the finance minister or the Prime Minister be affected in any way?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec


Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member knows that our government was elected a little more than two years ago on a promise, a commitment, to Canadians to grow our economy and to strengthen the middle class. It is obvious now, two years down the road, that this plan we put forward, investing in infrastructure and reducing taxes for the middle class, has been and is working.

Over the last two years, the Canadian economy has added close to 600,000 new jobs, most of them full time. Canada's unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been in a decade. Businesses, including small, family-run businesses, are a big part of this success.

Since coming to office, our goal has been to ensure that the middle class and small and medium-sized businesses share the benefits of this economic growth. This is why one of the first things we did as a government was lower personal income taxes for nine million Canadians and raise them on the top one per cent of income earners.

We also brought in the Canada child benefit, which benefits nine out of 10 families, who get more money each month, tax free, to spend on their families. This has also had a very good social and economic impact on our country, as consumer spending has gone up. There is confidence in the Canadian economy now and for the future, as many families now have the means, more so than they did under the previous child tax benefit that the Conservative government had put in place.

That is not all. Our government also announced that it would be enhancing the working income tax benefit by $500 million starting in 2019. That is a 65% increase since we came to office, and it will ensure low-income workers have more money in their pockets at the end of the month. Our government will also keep taking actions that support the middle class, and we will make sure companies that contribute to job creation and economic growth continue to enjoy a tax framework that works in their favour and is designed to help them succeed. We have opened a dialogue with Canadians on how to proceed going forward, and we are following up on what we heard about the tax reform the member was referring to.

Following extensive consultations on tax planning strategies and the use of private corporations that we held with small business owners, farmers, fishers, professionals, and experts, we made changes to ensure that Canada's competitive corporate tax rates are not used by high-income individuals to gain a personal tax advantage through their private corporation. The government is putting forward an approach that takes into account the feedback we received from Canadians on each aspect of the consultation.

It is also important to remember that we are going to lower the small business tax rate to 9%. We want to make sure the resulting tax advantage will help those businesses grow, create jobs, and innovate, rather than give wealthy individuals the additional benefit of a tax cut that is not available to other Canadians. Our goal here is to add an element of fairness that is currently lacking in our tax system and to keep supporting small and medium-sized businesses. That is why all of Canada's SMEs will get a tax cut from 10.5% to 10% on January 1, 2018, and then to 9% on January 1, 2019. We recognize the importance of small and medium-sized businesses, and we know how much they contribute to the Canadian economy. Our goal is to promote growth for Canada. We have been doing that remarkably well for the past two years, and our growth rate is the strongest in the G7. We will stay on track by supporting Canadian SMEs.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was a great answer to a question I did not ask. I asked if the tax reforms to be imposed on small businesses, starting January 2, the details of which apparently will be released just a few weeks from tomorrow, would impact the family fortunes or the tax shelters of the finance minister or the Prime Minister by a single penny. Those reforms will increase costs for small businesses.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the member heard today in question period, the details regarding income sprinkling will be announced tomorrow. We want to ensure that Canadians who work in family businesses can continue to do so and continue to get paid for that work.

Income sprinkling affects about 3% of businesses in Canada. What I can say, however, is that 100% of SMEs in Canada, from coast to coast to coast, will benefit from a lower tax rate effective January 1, 2018. The small business tax rate will drop from 10.5% to 10% and then to 9% in 2019.

One hundred per cent of the SMEs that currently contribute to the vitality of the Canadian economy have also benefited from the measures that we introduced, particularly our investments in infrastructure and the Canada child benefit, which I mentioned earlier. The confidence that Canadians have in our success and economic prosperity is reflected in all of our businesses. I see that in my region, which is prospering and has a vibrant economy. That is thanks in part to our government's measures.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît not being present in the House to raise the matter for which adjournment notice has been given, the notice is deemed withdrawn.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:33 p.m.)