Update re: S-228 (prohibiting the marketing of unhealthy food & beverages to children)

Update on Progress of S-228 

On December 12, 2018 the first hour of second reading debate in the House of Commons on Bill S-228, took place, with 6 Members of Parliament speaking including the sponsor, Dr. Doug Eyolfson of Manitoba.

 S-228, the Child Health Protection Act, was tabled to prevent the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children under the age of 17. I am disappointed that the government wishes to amend Bill S-228 to change the age limit from under age 17 to under age 13.  The Senate committee studying the bill last June responded to evidence on the need to raise the age to under 17 and so the bill was amended to extend protection for teenagers. There is no doubt that teenagers are being targeted by unhealthy junk food and beverage marketing, especially highly caffeinated drinks.

 I do note that the lower age limit aligns with existing Quebec legislation, and that it will provide protection to younger children from the targeted marketing of unhealthy food and beverages.

 I also understand that the bill will be amended to require a mandatory parliamentary review in five years’ time on the impacts of S-228 on marketing targeted to teenagers. I look forward to the results of this five year review.

 I also understand that the government wishes to exempt the sponsorship of children’s sports programs by food and beverage companies, and that this will be done through the development of regulations. I urge Health Canada to draw a distinction between identifying sponsors through the use of corporate logos and the practice of marketing specific food or beverage products to children, and that regulations be developed to prohibit enticements such as promotional offers, coupons and product give-aways to children under the age of 13.

 I understand the nervousness of the amateur sports world in the potential loss of sponsorship revenue, however it is important that they recognize the harm done when children themselves are targeted with the promotion of unhealthy food and beverages. 

There is no doubt that corporations choose to sponsor children’s activities because the marketing is effective. Health Canada’s regulation powers under the Food & Drug Act must be used effectively to protect the health of Canadian children.”

For information  see House of Commons debates for the first hour of 2nd reading of S-228.  Hansard S-228 2nd reading Dec 12, 2017 EN