House of Commons Hansard #319 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.


Outremont and Burnaby SouthVacancies

11 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It is my duty to inform the House that vacancies have occurred in the representation, namely: Mr. Thomas Mulcair, member for the electoral district of Outremont, by resignation effective Friday, August 3, 2018.

Mr. Kennedy Stewart, member for the electoral district of Burnaby South, resigned effective Friday, September 14, 2018.

Pursuant to subsection 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed warrants to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of writs for the election of members to fill these vacancies.

Bill S-234 and Motion No. 191Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

As hon. members know, by virtue of their office, ministers and parliamentary secretaries are not eligible to propose items for consideration under private members' business. The order of precedence currently includes one motion and one Senate bill standing in the name of members who were recently appointed to the position of minister or parliamentary secretary: Motion No. 191 and Bill S-234, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Visual Artist Laureate).

Therefore, in accordance with past practice, and under the authority granted to me by Standing Order 94(1), I am ordering that the item in the name of the member for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, Motion No. 191, be withdrawn from the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

As for Bill S-234, which is awaiting debate at second reading, it is now without an eligible sponsor. The principle expressed at pages 558 and 1,138 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, provides that bills remain on the order of precedence since they are in the possession of the House, and that only the House can take a further decision on them. If no action is taken by the House at the appropriate time, this item will be dropped from the Order Paper, pursuant to Standing Order 94(2)(c).

I thank members for their attention.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

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.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

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

11:15 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her valuable help on the health committee in reviewing this bill.

The issue was clarified, in that the Minister of Health agreed that under regulations through Health Canada, sports sponsorship would not be affected. One of the reasons to keep this in Health Canada regulations as opposed to the actual bill was that this would allow Health Canada to respond to any changes in industry practices in a judicious, quicker manner than bringing it back to the House for amendments.

Therefore, the minister's promise was kept by agreeing in the regulations that sports sponsorship will not be affected.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for introducing this important bill because we do need to fight childhood obesity. My NDP colleagues and I are pleased to support this bill.

As my colleague pointed out, Quebec was the first to address advertising aimed at children. Quebec's law applies to children 13 years of age and under. I have concerns about the fact that we are considering applying this legislation to people 17 years of age and under. As my colleague said, ads target teenagers too, but as Canadian restaurant owners told us, teenagers are also employees. That means they are exposed to advertising at work in the restaurant and food service industry. The issue for me here is setting the age at 17 and under versus 13 and under.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, it was a matter of debate whether to leave the definition of children as those aged 17 and under or 13 and under. There was an extensive review by legal staff and of the precedent set in Quebec. It was feared that if the definition of child were of those under the age of 17, there would be a significant chance of the entire bill being brought down in a legal challenge.

By the precedent set in Quebec, it was agreed that the bill in this form would withstand a charter challenge, and as a safety measure, we have put in the mandatory five-year review to address if companies are shifting their marketing to undermine the effectiveness of the bill.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the efforts of my colleague and friend from Winnipeg on this very important matter. The general acceptance of the legislation has been very encouraging. People recognize that our young people do need to have legislation of this nature. It is in the long-term best interests of their health, and if it is in young people's best interests, then it is in society's best interests as a whole. Could the member provide his thoughts on why this is important legislation for our young people?

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, this is a public health matter. Obesity is rising at an alarming rate and the patterns leading to obesity often start in childhood. A number of years ago before I was in government and practising medicine, I lobbied very heavily for anti-smoking legislation. Among the criticisms made was that doing so was all well and good, but why was I not also attacking obesity, which is actually a bigger problem? This is one of the first valuable steps to address this at a very early stage when this is preventative rather than treatment-based, and should improve health and help to take the burden off our already overburdened health care system.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

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

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 NDP has always cared about this issue. In 2012, my extraordinary colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby introduced Bill C-430.

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 / 11:35 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

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

11:55 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank members for engaging in this debate. I think some very valid points have been brought up by all speakers.

I will make this remark very brief. I would simply say that we have looked at all the data and all the different options available and we are convinced through past precedent and current practice that this will be a bill that will improve the health of many Canadians.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members



Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 19, 2018, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Suspension of SittingChild Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 11:58 a.m., the House will stand suspended until 12:00 p.m.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:58 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12:00 p.m.)


Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation ActGovernment Orders


Jim Carr Minister of International Trade Diversification, Lib.

moved that Bill C-79, an act to implement the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership between Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is with enthusiasm and optimism that I rise in the House today to speak about our government's plan to diversify Canada's trade. Specifically, I will speak about Bill C-79, the legislation before members today to implement the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, otherwise known as the CPTPP.

This is the first government bill to be debated in the fall sitting. That is a statement in itself and I intend to speak to that too. It reflects the importance we attach to swift ratification of the new CPTPP so that our farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and workers from across the country can get down to the business of tapping new markets and bringing brand Canada to more corners of the world.

There has never been a better time for Canadians to diversify. As a trading nation we need to add to our list of customers and to the roster of our innovative, hard-working, entrepreneurial and ambitious sellers.

Today I am meeting with my counterpart from the United Kingdom. In the last two weeks I was in Israel, Thailand and Singapore. After the United States withdrew, Canada took the lead in March 2017, relaunching stalled talks for the old TPP and then working tirelessly to secure a deal that reflected not just the ambitions of the few but the dreams of the many.

This effort was in large part about driving real changes for the middle class who have not always seen their interests reflected in agreements. We changed the terms of trade protecting our intellectual property, our unique culture and we expanded access to a market of 500 million consumers covering 13% of global GDP.

The new CPTPP was renegotiated with a view to looking beyond the few current large exporters to those unaccustomed or ready for new markets, because while competition is a very healthy thing, if workers feel that their quality work going out the front door is undermined by weaker standards of work coming through the back door, support for trade suffers.

Bill C-79 is of critical importance to the Canadian economy. It is vital particularly for our agricultural sectors that are now, even as I speak, reaping the harvests that will soon be shipped to new markets. As we have said from the outset, Canada will be among the first six countries to ratify as long as the House and the other place recognize the opportunity this deal brings to countless hard-working Canadians and move swiftly to pass the bill.

Bill C-79 brings forward all legislative instruments required to ratify and implement the agreement. Other regulatory changes will also be required for Canada to ratify and that regulatory process will follow royal assent of the bill. This is not just a new trade agreement for Canada. This is a signal to the world that trade matters, that rules matter and we will not be drawn into the world of protectionism. This bill is a statement that we will seek out every opportunity and negotiate terms that benefit the middle class and those working hard to join it.

The bill also speaks directly to Canada's diversification imperative. As a middle power, we cannot afford the status quo and we cannot afford to wait for the world to come to us. Our competitiveness depends on opening more markets and making those markets more accessible particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.

On Friday we will celebrate another landmark trade agreement secured under this government, the first anniversary of the trade agreement with Europe, CETA. In just one year, business is booming. Last week we learned container traffic at the port of Montreal is already up year on year 20%. That is 20% more traffic in the made-in-Canada goods Canadians produce each and every day.

In addition to trans-Atlantic trade, we are expanding preferential access across our hemisphere moving forward on a free trade agreement our government initiated with Mercosur, including Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and enhanced membership with the Pacific alliance, including Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia. With the new CPTPP, we extend our reach to the Pacific with an eye to the long term. We are, after all, a Pacific nation.

That is why reorienting and renewing what is now the CPTPP is so critical for us. Asia matters to Canada. Asia is home to the world's fastest-growing middle class. By 2030, nearly two-thirds of the world's middle class, estimated to be 3.5 billion people, will call Asia home. The CPTPP is a cornerstone for Canada's greater engagement with Asia-Pacific countries and solidly anchors Canada's place in the Asian market.

There are 10 new markets on offer: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. That is a trading bloc representing close to 500 million people and 13.5% of global GDP.

Under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, consumers will benefit from lower prices and greater selection. Workers will also benefit from the creation of more good-quality jobs in all export sectors across Canada.

The CPTPP translates to benefits for farmers and growers, fisher men and women, lumber jacks and jills, Bay Street and Main Street, miners and chemists, manufacturers and service providers. The CPTPP will also level the playing field for Canadian exporters staying even with competitors that already have preferential access to countries like Japan, the world's third largest economy. Last year our bilateral trade with Japan reached $29 billion; just imagine next year. The opportunities are enormous.

For example, the quality and beauty of Canadian wood is world renowned. In Japan, indeed throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the environmental and structural benefits of wooden construction are being embraced, including plans for a 1,048-foot wooden skyscraper. The home for the world's current tallest wooden building is here in Canada, a residential structure at the University of British Columbia. Incidentally, as Canada's minister of natural resources, I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon on that project.

With the advent of CPTPP, market opportunities for Canada's forest products sector are inviting and impressive. Canadian high-tech companies like OpenText have been battling and succeeding in the ultra-competitive Asian markets for decades. The IP protections secured in the CPTPP will protect the investments these companies have made in Canada and allow them to compete and win in Asia.

We consulted extensively with Canadians for more than two years to get the agreement right. We fought hard on their behalf to make important changes, suspensions to certain articles or side letters with the full force of international law in areas such as intellectual property, investor-state dispute settlement, culture and autos.

The CPTPP also includes many other significant achievements. For example, financial service providers will benefit from enhanced investment protection and preferential access, including in Malaysia and Vietnam where commitments go far beyond what either country has offered in any FTA.

Through the government procurement chapter, Canadian businesses will be able to access open and fair procurement in all CPTPP markets. CPTPP parties will eliminate tariffs on over 95% of tariff lines, covering 99% of current Canadian exports to CPTPP markets, with the vast majority to be eliminated immediately upon entry into force of this agreement.

The CPTPP also addresses non-tariff measures that we know are prevalent and which create business uncertainty for our exporters. That includes the auto sector where we know non-tariff barriers have been a constant irritant. In addition, the chapter on state-owned enterprises and designated monopolies provides for rules to help ensure that state-owned enterprises operate on a commercial basis and in a non-discriminatory manner when making purchases and sales.

We did not stop there. The CPTPP also includes dedicated chapters on labour, the environment, small and medium-sized enterprises, transparency and anti-corruption. The labour chapter includes binding commitments to ensure that national laws and policies provide protection for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association, collective bargaining and the elimination of child labour and forced labour. When we relaunched stalled talks, these chapters were on ice. Now, both the labour and environment chapters are fully enforceable through the agreement's dispute settlement mechanism.

We reaffirmed our right to regulate in the public interest. We promoted labour rights, environmental protection, and conservation. We preserved cultural identity and diversity. We promoted corporate social responsibility, gender equality and indigenous rights. Canada is now poised to be the only G7 country with free trade agreements with all of the other G7 countries.

To realize that remarkable value proposition, diversification into new markets must be a national project to which every farmer, rancher, fisher, manufacturer, entrepreneur, business owner and innovator commits their efforts.

I want to be very clear: diversification is a national priority. Diversification must be a project to which every farmer, rancher, fisher, manufacturer, entrepreneur, business owner, and innovator commits their efforts.

We need every Canadian with ambitions to grow their business to think global. We have countless people-to-people ties to almost every country on earth. These are the bridges over which more trade can flow.

We also need to support our youth in gaining global experience for their future career prospects, and securing Canada's place in the global economy. We will not stop until Canada is the epicentre of global trade and the world's most connected, stable, predictable, innovative and in-demand market on earth. We are focused on providing the middle class with unparalleled access to sell east across the Atlantic, south across our hemisphere, and west across the entire Pacific basin.

My first trip as the Minister of International Trade Diversification outside of North America was to Thailand and Singapore. In Singapore, I pushed for an acceleration of talks toward a possible free trade agreement, with the ASEAN nations adding some of the largest and fastest-growing countries to our ever-expanding piece of the Pacific pie.

While we must open opportunities for all Canadians, we must also focus on areas where Canada has a clear global competitive advantage. Our most innovative business sectors have the greatest export potential. This is a message that is coming through loud and clear through the work of the superclusters and economic strategy tables for advanced manufacturing, agrifood, health and bio-sciences, clean technology, digital industries, and resources of the future. We are committed to continuing this work with industry partners to turn high-growth Canadian companies into global successes. We are a government that invests in its ideas.

We recently announced $50 million to support diversification efforts and opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. We need to link our small and medium-sized businesses to global supply chains and to multinationals and global infrastructure projects the world over. More global companies should see Canada as critical and integral to their supply chain, and our SMEs need access to international markets to scale-up.

Exports and imports account for 60% of Canada's GDP. This government knows that our competitiveness depends on making real investments in our future. The previous government talked a good game but focused only on the detail that worked for the top 1%. They scaled back the programs available through our trade commissioner service so it could only serve the privileged few, the ones largely operating overseas. We will reverse that trend and get our sales numbers way up.

Canada will also carry the mantle of defender of the global rules-based order. Canada played a key role in building the multilateral trading system of the last century and we will not see it eroded. We will defend it and we will reform it. Our convening power and commitment to the rules-based order is an essential strength and we will put it to work for more Canadians. That is why next month I will host a WTO reform summit in Ottawa.

Canada is the home of Marconi's Signal Hill and Bell Northern Research, precursors to our current successes in high tech. We were the birthplace of the Ski-Doo and the regional jet; the home of canola, an agri-innovation that helps feed the world; and Cirque du Soleil, which helps feed the soul.

We are the home of international gaming studios and the burgeoning hub of artificial intelligence. We are the home of the Canadarm and CANDU, the Toronto International Film Festival and Canada Goose. There is nothing like brand Canada. We are naturally global, but we have not always been actively global. The CPTPP is a call to action.

I urge all members in this House and the other place to move swiftly on this bill. Now is our time.

I urge all members in the House and the other place to move swiftly on this bill. Now is our time.