Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Issue 5 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, to which was referred Bill C-12, to promote physical activity and sport and Bill C-8, to protect human health and safety and the environment by regulating products used for the control of pests, met this day at 11:05 a.m. to give consideration to the bills.

Senator Michael Kirby (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Senators, we are here today to continue our discussion on Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity and sport. We have the minister, the Honourable Paul DeVillers, the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, appearing, and with him is Lane MacAdam, Director General of the Sports Directorate.

Thank you very much for coming, minister. Senators, I will ask the minister to begin with an opening statement, a copy of which has been has been distributed to everyone. We will then turn to questions. Minister, please proceed with your opening statement.

The Honourable Paul DeVillers, Secretary of State, Amateur Sport: Mr. Chair, as you have indicated, I have with me Mr. Lane MacAdam, the Director General of Sport Canada. With us is Mr. Roger Charland, who is with the Department of Justice working with Heritage. It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here at this committee to review Bill C-12.

[Translation]

Under Bill C-12, Canadians will be able to count on a sport system which meets their ambitions. It represents the common vision of our citizens, athletes, officials, coaches, national sports organizations, volunteers and all levels of government. This bill marks the beginning of a new chapter in the sporting history of Canada.

The existing Fitness and Amateur Sport Act goes back to 1961. Of course, it has served our country well. However, you will no doubt agree that it is high time to modernize the act and that is what we are doing with Bill C-12.

[English]

Over the past 40 years, training techniques have become more specialized; our knowledge of the human body has improved. Sport equipment has undergone important changes. Today's athletes are developing in a world that seems light-years away from the 1960s.

In the face of this transformation, we have to keep pace and make basic changes to our sport system. In a time when professionals participate in the Olympic Games and athletes receive monetary compensation during competitions, we must even follow the example of a number of countries by abandoning the term ``amateur sport,'' which no longer fits today's circumstances.

Bill C-12 involves much more than a change of name. Above all, it seeks to ensure that the Canadian sport system can better address the needs of our athletes and all Canadians.

[Translation]

Our objective is to support Canadians on their journey from playing fields to the podium. To achieve this, the bill provides us with tools to encourage everyone to reach their goals of excellence and to maximize the potential of Canada's sporting system. In fact, we want to encourage more Canadians to become more involved in sport and to lead a more active life, irrespective of their gender, age, ethnic origin or physical or mental abilities.

We also want to eliminate the obstacles to certain groups which are underrepresented in our sport system.

[English]

However, a focus on participation does not mean abandoning our pursuit of excellence. Bill C-12 aims to increase participation and to strengthen the Government of Canada's support of excellence in the Canadian sport system. The two goals are related. We believe that the remarkable performance of our elite athletes motivates more Canadians to practice sport and become physically active. Almost 10 million Canadians regularly participate in sport — almost one out of every three people. As a country, we have much to gain if Canadians become more active. Physical activity and sport help us adopt healthy ways of living. They provide us with unique and enriching experiences and help us to learn to do our utmost in order to overcome adversity.

[Translation]

In fact, to be physically fit is tantamount to being healthy. That is why this bill reaffirms the principle that every dollar invested in sports should not be viewed as an expense. It is high time we realized that sport is an investment in our future and our quality of life.

It is also an investment to counter inactivity, which is a growing, and worrying, trend. Lack of physical activity is costly for our country. As stated in the Mills report, if we reduced inactivity by 10 per cent, we would save approximately five billion dollars a year in health care costs. Furthermore, according to some studies, the lack of activity is responsible for the death of over 20,000 Canadians each year. We must vigorously fight inactivity and Bill C- 12 provides us with the tools to do so.

[English]

In particular, this bill will allow us to work in closer cooperation with other federal departments, such as Health Canada, to encourage, promote and support physical activity in sport. That is why this bill, first and foremost, stresses the contribution of stakeholders.

Bill C-12 will allow us to work more closely with the private sector and with various players in the sectors of physical activity and sport in order to stimulate and encourage Canadians to be more active. After all, the Canadian sport system extends to all the provinces and territories in all regions of the country. It includes a host of volunteers in every community. That can make an enormous difference when we seek to advance measures that are nation-wide in scope.

Bill C-12 will officially entrench into legislation the new Canadian sports policy. It is the result of one of the most comprehensive and inclusive consultative efforts undertaken by the Government of Canada in recent years.

[Translation]

The bill has received the full support of all provincial and territorial governments and has been enthusiastically received by our athletes and every stakeholder in Canada's sporting system.

The bill clearly lays out the objectives we have set ourselves for the next ten years. It calls upon us to work in partnership to better help our athletes, coordinate our resources and improve our programs.

As soon as it is passed, Bill C-12 will give life to this policy, which marks the beginning of a new era of cooperation.

Last, under the bill, we will implement an initiative which has been long awaited by the entire sporting community.

[English]

Over the past 10 years, the Canadian high performance sport system has experienced a large number of disputes, some of which have, unfortunately, ended up before the courts. To respond to the needs of the sport community, Bill C-12 will provide for the creation of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. The centre will enable conflicts to be settled without delay and at a lower cost. It will also have all the flexibility required to meet the specific needs of the sports community. This centre will be a not-for-profit corporation at arm's length from the government. It is important that the centre be independent and has all the flexibility necessary to meet the future needs of the sport community, while, at the same time, being accountable for its public funding.

I want to stress this point because it is central to the purpose of the bill. I have read the transcripts of the committee's first meeting and I can appreciate some of the concerns that were raised with regard to the centre's accountability to Parliament and its responsibility under the Official Languages Act.

[Translation]

We paid extremely close attention to official languages when we worked on this bill and I am pleased that the Official Languages Commissioner is satisfied with our efforts. Her support is very important. As you can see for yourselves, the bill mentions the importance of official languages repeatedly. In particular, under section 9(5), the centre provides services and communicates with the public in both of Canada's official languages.

[English]

While it is true that I am the Secretary of State (Amateur Sport) responsible for overseeing the implementation of Bill C-12, I am also a Member of Parliament and I take that side of my job seriously. The issue of accountability to Parliament is important, and I am fully cognizant of my responsibilities towards the taxpayers in my riding in Canada. With this in mind, I would like to address some of the concerns.

The sport community has repeatedly told us that a government agency would not have the same impact as an independent centre. We have heard repeatedly that athletes would hesitate even to use the services of a centre taking the form of a government agency. One witness appearing before your committee on November 6, Mr. Victor Lachance, expressed the view that is widely held in the sports community. He stated that he felt that ``the way that the centre has been developed and proposed in the bill does provide balance, perhaps a fine balance. He went on to say, ``if athletes see a purely governmental instrument, something with which they are not familiar, they will no draw much confidence from it.''

[Translation]

I believe that with the cooperation of Mr. Lachance and many other stakeholders, we have managed to strike a fine balance.

Despite the centre's independence, we have ensured that it meets strict accountability principles.

For example, the centre will have to table an annual report with the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The minister will also have a number of ways to follow the progress of the work of this important organization. In extreme cases, the minister could even go so far as to dissolve the organization.

[English]

As well, the centre would be funded through a Canadian Heritage program, which, of course, is subject to the scrutiny of Parliament in respect of estimates, et cetera. Members of both Houses would have the opportunity, through the estimate process, to follow the expenditures of the centre.

In creating this centre, I feel that we will have succeeded in achieving the appropriate accountability measures while, at the same time, meeting a key demand of our athletes by giving them an independent, fair and effective arbitration system. Accordingly, it is clear that this bill is a landmark initiative. Not only does it modernize Canada's entire sport system, but it also does so with the active support of Canada's sporting community of all the provinces and territories and of the five parties in the House of Commons.

The ADR is a unique body set up to respond to the unique concerns of Canada's sport community. In creating the ADR, the Government of Canada has responded to the wishes of primary stakeholders and has done so successfully, judging by the vast amount of support of the bill.

When asked the secret to his success, Wayne Gretzky replied, ``I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been.'' It is with this same vision and hope for the same success that we put forward Bill C-12. We have seen the need for an ADR; we have listened to the voices of the many stakeholders who will benefit from it; and we have responded relatively swiftly. Today, I seek your support so that together we can encourage the practice of sport, support the pursuit of excellence, and strengthen the capacity of our sport system.

[Translation]

With your support, we will ensure that more and more Canadians regularly take part in physical activity and sport. We will help bring citizens from all walks of life together by breaking down barriers and eliminating differences.

[English]

In conclusion, Bill C-12 will help Canadians to lead healthier lives in a country where physical activity and sport are given their due. I look forward to your questions.

The Chairman: Thank you, Minister DeVillers, for those opening remarks.

Senator Murray: Thank you, minister, for wading through the transcript of our first meeting and for addressing some of the concerns that were raised. We can both save the committee a good deal of time if we acknowledge that we will agree to disagree on some of the main points.

However, we are agreed that the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre ought to be free of undue political direction or interference and that it ought to operate in an independent and autonomous fashion. There are other government- funded agencies that do so.

Mr. DeVillers: Yes.

Senator Murray: However, I would say to your friend Mr. Lachance that there ought to be a minimum of fundamental processes of accountability to Parliament. I will state my case in the form of one question. You pointed out that the estimates process will give parliamentarians an opportunity to question ministers and others about the annual appropriation for the centre. To do that effectively, Parliament should have before it, officially, the corporate plan and the annual report. Bill C-12 should require the minister to table those documents.

I cannot see why it is any interference with the autonomy or independence of the centre to require the minister to table the corporate plan and the annual report in parliament. The Minister of Canadian Heritage tables — if I am not mistaken — the annual report of the CBC for which she is responsible. Nobody at CBC has ever suggested that somehow she or other politicians are interfering in the operations of that Crown corporation. I cannot see why it would be such an imposition on that body or on its autonomy or arm's-length nature to require the minister to table the corporate plan and the annual report.

Likewise, I do not see why we should be deprived, as parliamentarians, of the reassurance of having the Auditor General audit the books. I do not see how that would interfere with the autonomy and independence of the organization.

Nor do I see why we should not make this centre subject to the Official Languages Act. I know that the bill makes a bow several times to bilingualism and to linguistic duality. The board of directors will have the duty to pass bylaws respecting the linguistic situation. However, just as with the audit function, who knows whether there would be anyone on the board of directors who knows anything about official languages policy in that field?

My solution would be to make the organization subject to the Official Languages Act. That would not interfere with their independence or autonomy; likewise for access to information; likewise for the privacy act.

Finally, you remarked that the minister could go so far as to dissolve the corporation if she is pushed to the extreme. I have made the point both at second reading, and I think here, that that is a right that she should not have. If we are setting this thing up by legislation, if the government for good reason wants to dissolve it, the government should come back and ask parliament to dissolve it.

I ask you why it would be such an imposition on this body, which should have independence, flexibility and autonomy, to impose those quite basic and fundamental requirements in terms of accountability to parliament.

Mr. DeVillers: The policy point from which we started was to maintain that independence, which goes to the heart of most of your questions.

Many of the concerns you have raised have been addressed. The bill requires that the annual reports be audited and be made public; that the business plans be public; and, as I said in my comments through the estimates process, that parliamentarians would have full access. Once armed with the public reports from the centre, parliamentarians could discharge their responsibility very nicely.

This is a sport dispute resolution centre. Jurisdictionally, it deals more with property and civil rights than it does with sports because of the issues that are being resolved. Frankly, that might be one of the reasons the commissioner is satisfied with the structure and the requirements imposed on the centre to function in both languages and to offer its services in both languages. To a large extent, we are dealing with provincial jurisdictions in the sense that the disputes, while they arise in sports, are regarding property and civil rights.

We have covered the territory the way the bill is drafted. The obligations imposed on the centre by its creation give us the balance that we seek and the assurance that parliamentarians will be able to properly scrutinize the public funds that support the institution.

Senator Murray: Your predecessor was involved in the creation of the body. Am I correct?

Mr. DeVillers: He was involved in the consultation. The drafting had begun by the time I arrived on the scene.

Senator Murray: The centre is being set up under the Alternative Service Delivery Policy. I obtained a copy of the policy guide from Treasury Board.

Are you familiar with it? I have read through it. I think that what you are doing is inconsistent with some of the guidelines in this document in regard to the reporting relationship to parliament, access to information, privacy and so forth.

I will not pursue that here; I may do so at third reading.

If you are familiar with these guidelines, you may want to comment on that.

Mr. DeVillers: To my knowledge, we are complying with the policy objectives that were approved through the legislative drafting process. We are properly addressing the requirements place on the centre.

Senator Murray: I believe that the Commissioner of Official Languages wants the centre made subject to the Official Languages Act. Am I incorrect?

Mr. DeVillers: That is not my understanding.

Senator Murray: She testified here yesterday.

Senator Mahovlich: I believe that she is satisfied with the way that the bill is.

Senator Murray: She has three amendments.

Mr. DeVillers: They deal with the bill, not with centre. I was referring to the centre. I understand that she is satisfied with the requirements on the centre.

[Translation]

Senator Gauthier: The title of the bill, an Act to Promote Physical Activity and Sport, seems to give top billing to ``physical activity.'' You said in your remarks that a large number of Canadians are physically active, but that there is also a large number who are not physically active. So the bill deals not only with sports, but also with physical activity.

Yesterday, a witness told us that in his opinion, the bill was not satisfactory as far as physical activity was concerned. Could you comment? I do not know whether you are aware of that testimony, but last night, he gave a good presentation.

Mr. De Villers: Yes, as you mentioned, the title of the bill is: an Act to Promote Physical Activity and Sport. I would point out that in section 3 of the bill, where the policies of the bill are set out, physical activity is clearly among the objectives and policies of the legislation.

There are a number of other places where the accent appears to be on sports rather than physical activity, and I think that is because our sport system is highly organized. Physical activity is less organized, and it is more up to individuals to engage in physical activity.

Senator Gauthier: The witness last night referred specifically to section 5 and said he was not satisfied with the wording of that section. Perhaps you could ask your advisors to look at last night's testimony and briefly comment on that suggestion.

Mr. De Villers: Section 5:

The objects of this act are to encourage, promote and develop physical activity and sport in Canada. The Minister may take any measures that the Minister considers appropriate to further those objects, and in particular may:

And the list that follows indicates areas where the minister may have to take measures.

As I just explained, I think it is because sports are more organized and formal than physical activity.

Under section 5, it is clear that physical activity is on an equal footing with sports. When it comes to examples, they are fewer than in our sport system.

Senator Gauthier: I am now going to come back to the issue of this new centre's designation as a federal institution. Apparently, lawyers in your department and elsewhere are reluctant to agree to an amendment declaring, as was done with Air Canada, that the centre is a federal institution. Do you have any comment?

As Senator Murray pointed out, this legislation excludes or appears to exclude the Attorney General of Canada, the Commissioner of Official Languages and a whole host of other commissioners and officers of Parliament who answer to parliamentarians. You said in your comments that an annual report would be tabled with Heritage Canada.

Are sports recreational activities or do they fall under health? If they are recreational, obviously that comes under Heritage Canada, but it could also come under Health Canada. Why not?

Mr. De Villers: I think that it is both. There are some parts of the bill that come under health, and other that come under sports and Canadian Heritage. This was acknowledged when the bill was prepared. But for the reasons I pointed out in my comments, it is sports organizations that insist on an independent institution, rather than Justice or Canadian Heritage lawyers.

Senator Gauthier: The federal government pays the bill. We are responsible for allocating annual budgets to the project. I would like us to have a say in it, otherwise we would not be taking a responsible approach. We don't have the Auditor General to tell us that things were done efficiently.

Mr. De Villers: The bill requires that reports from the centre be published every two years, and that the centre be funded through Canadian Heritage program spending. Parliament can review the spending each year, and that is why we believe that all concerns should be covered.

Senator Gauthier: And can you dissolve the centre if you are not happy with the way it operates?

Mr. De Villers: Yes, we can.

Senator Gauthier: As minister, you have the power to dissolve the centre if you are not happy with the way it operates. Is that correct?

Mr. De Villers: That is correct.

Senator Gauthier: In the preamble, you used the word ``bilingual.'' I would like you to use the word ``duality'' in its place. I am tired of hearing the word bilingual, which irritates some Canadians. There are 19 million unilingual English-speaking Canadians who say:

[English]

``I am not bilingual, therefore I am not a full-fledged Canadian.'' Come on. The word ``duality'' reflects the reality of Canada, in respect of both languages. Bilingualism is the ``ketchup'' you put in every sauce there is, to appeal. I do not think the word ``bilingual'' should be in this bill at all. ``Duality'' would be the proper word. I will move the amendment.

[Translation]

Mr. De Villers: This is the bilingual character of Canada, and I believe these are the same terms used in the Official Languages Act. That is why we have used those terms.

Senator Gauthier: Perhaps, but things have changed since the Official Languages Act was instituted, and we no longer talk about bilingualism. Even your colleague Mr. Dion no longer uses that term. Duality is a concept that reflects reality much better than bilingualism, and is acceptable to all Canadians. In my view, bilingualism is not the way to go. I am hereby giving notice that I plan to move an amendment to the preamble, to change the term ``bilingualism'' to ``duality.''

Mr. De Villers: Bilingual character.

[English]

Senator Cordy: Thank you, minister, for appearing before us today. Congratulations on updating the legislation. I think we would agree it is long overdue.

My first question addresses the physical fitness aspect of the bill. The Speech from the Throne mentioned that there would be a national strategy for healthy living, and you earlier talked about physical fitness as being an investment in the future. As a former teacher, I would agree wholeheartedly with you. Children learn much better if they are physically fit.

Our committee just finished a health care study. We found that obesity is becoming a major problem with young people in our country for a variety of reasons, the main one being a lack of physical fitness. Following Senator Gauthier, I am not sure that fits in with health or with physical fitness. This bill certainly makes recommendations as to the importance of physical fitness.

I found, as a teacher, that when there was a lot of money for education, there were a lot of physical fitness programs in the schools. I understand that is provincial jurisdiction. However, when the money dries up, the first things to be cut are physical education programs within the school system. How do we ensure that Canadians — young people particularly — do in fact become more physically fit and maintain physical fitness? It really does cross over from your department to health departments. How do we ensure that someone will take charge and really promote physical fitness of Canadians?

Mr. DeVillers: That is one of the main policy objectives of this bill. Physical activity and the sport are on equal footing. As I indicated in my comments, it entrenches into law the Canadian Sport Policy, which specifically provides with physical activity in schools. The ministers responsible for sport in the provinces and territories have all endorsed the Canadian Sport Policy that has a specific requirement that physical activity and even physical education would be increased in the schools throughout the country.

You correctly point out that is a provincial jurisdiction; and we on the federal level are there to support our provincial colleagues in that effort and to support them financially. We have two or three bilateral agreements with some of the provinces where we will be investing with the provinces to attempt to see that physical activity through schools or through use of provincial school properties in the community at large. The Canadian Sport Policy is very much a part of the policy objective that is being entrenched in this legislation.

Senator Cordy: How will we have accountability for this money? For instance, during our health care study, we learned that very often there was no accountability for the money that was sent to the provinces — some of the health care dollars were used to buy lawn mowers for hospitals and that kind of thing. Will the funding be earmarked funding?

Mr. DeVillers: Yes, these are specific projects. They are bilateral agreements signed with the provinces for a specific project, which would be subject to all the Treasury Board accountability regulations.

Senator Cordy: My next question has to do with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre. It seems that Canada is preparing to do what many other nations are already doing. How binding will the centre's decisions be on the participants who go to the centre seeking resolution to a dispute?

Mr. DeVillers: It is a voluntary process. In agreeing to go to the dispute resolution centre, the individual athletes have to agree to be bound by the result. It is only voluntary to a certain extent because, Sport Canada, through its contribution agreements, will ensure that the sports federations will have an internal review or appeal process and that they will agree, as a condition to receiving the funding, to submit to the dispute resolution system.

It will be binding by agreement. If someone alleges duress, there is obviously recourse to the courts at that time.

Senator Cordy: The agreements would be made before the resolution of the dispute would begin.

Mr. DeVillers: That is right. They would submit to be bound by the decisions.

Senator Fairbairn: In the context of the earlier discussion of physical activity in sport, I have an observation on the bill and the degree to which it reflects the feeling that arose from the ground in the extensive consultations held across the country prior to the national sports summit. There was a real cry, even from the athletes themselves, for increased support for physical activity within the education system, within the family and within the community. Their own view of the relationship to sport was very strong and I think the bill, to a large degree, reflects that.

My question relates to the issue of persons who have been marginalized: persons with disabilities and persons in different parts of our system who do not normally have proper access to sports as a vehicle of physical activity. This is covered, as I noted during Mr. MacAdam's presentation, in a generic way in the bill under the policy clauses, such that it would reduce barriers faced by all Canadians that prevent them from being active, to increase participation in the practice of sport and support the pursuit of excellence. Under the objects and mandate heading, it would facilitate the participation of under-represented groups in the Canadian sports system.

Naturally, I would have liked to see the identification of some of these people including women; including Aboriginals — where there is hope that development will be accelerated in their communities; including the special Olympics; young Canadians who have intellectual challenges; and our Paralympic athletes, who include all of those with physical disabilities under various sport organizations in Canada.

I would like to hear from you, minister, that all of those people, whereas they are not mentioned specifically in this bill, are very much a part of its objectives. The bill is also the legislative face of the larger sports policy, on which you have been working for some time. I recognize the quite laudable shift in government in terms of how government has expressed itself in the inclusion of all the groups that I have mentioned on what you and your predecessor have referred to as a ``level playing field'' and in terms how we Canadians address all of our athletes. I would like to have assurance that all of these groups are not merely a reference point in the proposed act and in the sport policy, but are all contributing forces within that policy development.

It is important that their voices be heard because, with all the goodwill in the world, they are the only people who can effectively speak for themselves. When we talk about level playing fields and inclusion and equality that is all true. However, it should always be with respect for the differences in the various groups that I have mentioned.

Could you deal with that and perhaps open it up a bit for the benefit of the members of the committee? The government has gone a long way. I want to ensure that this bill takes it even further. We do not want the status quo. We want to see this broadened and made even more inclusive than that word projects.

Mr. DeVillers: As you have correctly pointed out, the bill refers to participation of all Canadians, which is as inclusive as one can get. The bill also makes reference to under-represented groups. Then, by the entrenchment of the Canadian Sport Policy, we get into the provisions of the policy that lists four specific groups: women, Aboriginals, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities. Those are the four under-represented groups in the Canadian sport system identified in the Canadian Sport Policy.

That ``plank'' in the Canadian Sport Policy is a reminder to all involved in the Canadian sport system that those groups need to be fully represented. As you correctly pointed out, their collective voice needs to be heard at the time of policy planning that would affect future changes to the Canadian Sport Policy and the daily operation and application of the current policy.

It is clearly the government's intention to ensure that the groups we mentioned, and all Canadians, are included. This is not just about the practice of physical activity and sport but also about the management of the system and the planning of future changes.

Senator Fairbairn: That is good.

Senator LeBreton: The intentions are good. You well know the old saying, ``The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'' The bill does not seem to address funding for women in sports or for under-represented groups. Should this bill not be rather more explicit in that regard?

Mr. DeVillers: I had an extensive discussion on that topic with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport at the time the bill was in the House of Commons. They were suggesting an amendment that would start a list. In the course of my discussions with them, we came to an understanding that instead of starting a list, which might be good from an advocacy point of view but which might not be very practical, we would work together to develop the standards that will be applied through Sport Canada in its funding arrangements with national sports organizations. We are trying to get at it that way. The danger in any list is not necessarily who you include but who you leave off. There is always the danger that some groups might be excluded because they are not on the list.

I wanted to get beyond the point of advocacy. It may be good advocacy to insist that one's group is on the list, but it is more practical to work with Sport Canada, as Senator Fairbairn does through her involvement with the Canadian Paralympic committee. We are trying to get at it that way from a practical point of view.

Senator LeBreton: I hope that your good intentions will be passed on to anyone who might succeed you.

Mr. DeVillers: You are right, senator, policies can be changed, as can legislation. Lists can also be changed. There is never any guarantee.

Senator Fairbairn: I understand that using the word ``guarantee'' is difficult. I accept the difficulty of making lists because sometimes certain people or groups are left off.

Minister, I think you may have covered this point but perhaps you can underline it. We want to ensure that these groups are not just consulted but are actively engaged in the development and delivery of your policy.

Mr. DeVillers: Yes, certainly. That is the objective of the consultation that resulted in the formulation of the Canadian Sport Policy and of the bill. Groups will be involved in the development of the policies on an ongoing basis.

Senator Roche: Minister, my first question has to do with the sport dispute resolution centre. It would appear from the intention to have up to 12 directors on the board of directors that this will be a sizeable centre. How big will it be? What is the anticipated budget?

As for mediators, how many will there be? I assume you would have professional mediators doing alternate dispute resolution. Can you give me an idea of how many and from where these mediators will be recruited? On the question of dissolution, what is the rationale for giving the minister the right to dissolve the centre when it is being set up by legislation?

Mr. DeVillers: Some of those questions can only be answered by the board once it is struck. That will be their purview. The estimated budget that we have been operating with would be an annual budget of somewhere in the vicinity of $1 million, with five or six staff members.

Senator Roche: Does that include mediators?

Mr. DeVillers: No, the mediators would be contracted. They would not be staff of the centre but engaged on an as- needed basis.

There is the interim ADR in place now where the training is ongoing with the mediators. Lessons are being learned as we are going through that process. It is hoped that once the permanent centre is in place, we will have the benefit of that interim experience. The mediators will be on contract.

Senator Roche: What about the issue of dissolution?

Mr. DeVillers: As for dissolution, the bill deals with the assets. We are not looking at huge assets. We are looking at, perhaps, some office equipment, computers and things of that nature. The bill states that that would be directed first to a non-profit organization doing similar work, if one exists; and, if not, they would obviously go to the Receiver General.

Senator Roche: I am still troubled by the fact that a minister will have the right to dissolve a body that is set up by legislation.

Mr. DeVillers: That was put in the bill to help safeguard some of the concerns that Senator Murray has mentioned. We have seen other instances where independent bodies are created and then take on lives of their own. That was the intent.

Senator Roche: That is exactly my point. It becomes subject to either political or financial concerns of the passing moment. Some very good institutions set up by legislation have been dissolved in the name of deficit cutting. That proved to be nothing more than false economies. I am not blaming you personally for this, but I do not like it.

Clause 8 of the bill would give the minister the right to enter into agreements with foreign governments to encourage and to develop physical activity and sport. Could you give me an idea of what you have in mind or what the government has in mind? In a structural sense what would be the relationship with a foreign government in sport?

Mr. DeVillers: This refers to bilateral agreements, several of which exist with different countries. For instance, they agree to exchange coaching expertise, training methods and things of that nature. I have been in this position since January of this year. I have signed two or three myself. My predecessor had also signed some.

Senator Roche: Can you give us an example of one that you signed?

Mr. DeVillers: I signed one with South Africa, which I think was a renewal. That was when I was at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. They usually do not involve large sums of money. It involves more or less an exchange of expertise in coaching, training and things of that nature.

Senator Roche: In the minister's statement he referred to a saving of, I believe I am correct, $5 billion a year by Canadians applying proper health procedures in their own lives; is that right?

Mr. DeVillers: Yes.

Senator Roche: This committee is very much in tune with that kind of thing. If we were to save $5 billion — well, that would be the $5 billion we need to fix health care. Following on the answer you gave to Senator Cordy, what will you do to stimulate programs that will really have some meaning in the lives of people?

If I can just dare to give you a personal example, you are looking at a senior citizen who tries to take care of himself. I swim 20 minutes every day. I have no doubt that this is a big improvement on my health and that I am contributing to the health care system by not spending money to take care of me because I am taking care of myself. I know that. What are you doing to get other people like me to take care of themselves so that we can save some money on the whole health care system?

Mr. DeVillers: By the way, that $5 billion figure was the estimate arrived at by the Mills commission. They said that if they could reduce physical inactivity by 10 per cent that would generate long-term savings to the health system up to that amount.

Obviously, some form of public awareness program is necessary to encourage people. The ``Participaction'' program did this, however, it is either under-funded or no longer funded by Health Canada. I have had discussions with the Minister of Health, and our officials are talking about reviving efforts to convey the message to Canadians that physical activity is important.

Senator Roche: I take it that you do not have any money in your budget to start a big program. The money must come from the health budget?

Mr. DeVillers: Yes. It would have to come through a coordinated effort.

Senator Roche: Is there a way that you could use your office and credibility as Secretary of State for Amateur Sport to help the Canadian people to understand that physical activity is good for them.

Mr. DeVillers: Yes. Future potential programs would be equivalent to the ESTEEM Team that Sport Canada now funds, which sends athletes and former athletes into to schools to speak to students about the benefits of physical activity and sporting activity, the disadvantages of drug and alcohol and things of that nature.

These are the types of programs that could be expanded and used not only in schools but also in the community at large.

Senator Mahovlich: Mr. Minister, in your speech you mentioned that the centre will enable conflicts to be settled without delay. I know some athletes that have been in the courts for the past 10 years. They still have no decision.

These athletes were professional hockey players. They were forced to play in circumstances under which they should not have been playing, and they were injured permanently.

Could they approach this dispute resolution centre and have an answer in a short time?

Mr. DeVillers: It is a voluntary centre, as I stated previously. The case of professional sport would be different because Sport Canada does not finance professional sports. We would not be able to insist that the professional sport league or team submit itself to the jurisdiction.

Senator Mahovlich: I thought that the word ``amateur'' was out now. Everyone is a professional now.

Mr. DeVillers: Yes. The control that the government has is through the funding. If we are not funding professional sports, it is going to be difficult to try to impose some of these standards. This is enabling legislation, not regulating legislation. It opens the opportunity to have agreements with professional sport teams and leagues, but it does not regulate them. We could only assist if they agreed to submit to the jurisdiction.

Senator LeBreton: Yesterday we had some very good witnesses. One, Rick Bell from the Coalition for Active Living, pointed out in testimony that all the references to physical activity had been removed from clause 5.

Mr. DeVillers: Yes.

Senator LeBreton: Why would that continuity not be carried through all of the sections of the bill?

Mr. DeVillers: Those sub-paragraphs refer to the Canadian sport system, which, as I indicated earlier, is more formal and regulated than the physical activity side. We have more examples on the sport side than we do on the physical activity side. Physical activity is more or less driven individually. You do not need a big structure as in sport. When you have structures, then you we needed examples of how the minister would become involved with that sport system.

They are on an equal footing. It is only when you get to the examples that there is more in the sports area. My simple answer is it is because of the structure of the Canadian sport system.

Senator LeBreton: Then is there not a danger that this becomes a sport-focused bill with not so much emphasis on the physical activity?

Mr. DeVillers: Only if we let it. It is all of our responsibility to ensure that that does not occur.

Senator LeBreton: How do you do that? During the health care study on obesity and children, we talked about sports having more of an organized facet than physical activity has. It is much harder to get a handle on it.

I am worried that this will become an amateur sport resolution centre and that physical activity will fall off the table.

Mr. DeVillers: They are equal in the Canadian Sport Policy. The four planks are equal — participation, developing capacity, cooperation, and excellence. Any time we put one against the other, we are missing the point. By encouraging physical activity, we are broadening the base to develop the excellence.

By accomplishing the excellence, we then in turn get more people involved. We often can see a spike in participation in a particular sport after one of our Olympians has performed well.

They are complimentary objectives. If we increase participation, we will be increasing excellence and the excellent results will provide the inspiration for more participants.

Senator LeBreton: In clause 5, says that the ``minister may take measures.'' I understand that when this bill was before committee in the other place, the recommendation came forward from the committee that the word ``may'' should have been ``shall.'' It was not carried forward when the bill came before the house.

``May'' is such a wiggle word, and ``shall'' is more definitive. Why is it not that ``the minister shall take appropriate measures.''

Mr. DeVillers: Again, this is enabling legislation. ``May'' is empowering, so the minister would have the authority to take these measures. Any time that ``shall'' is put in, it takes away the discretion that might be there for the minister to exercise. It becomes more mandatory, regulatory legislation at that point.

Mr. Roger Charland, Legal Counsel, Sport Canada: The use of ``shall'' in certain contexts creates a problem. If you read clause 5 with the word ``shall'' in it, you will find that it becomes difficult to determine what the minister needs to do in order to meet the ``shall.''

That is a distinction between the words ``shall'' and ``may'' in these type of provisions. One is empowering, allowing the minister to take all the measures required to achieve objectives. The word ``shall'' could create a problem of defining how the minister would do it.

Senator LeBreton: It impedes the empowering ability then?

Mr. DeVillers: It would also leave the government open to litigation. If it said that the minister ``shall'' reduce obesity and did not do it, the government could be subject to lawsuits.

Senator Léger: Sport and physical activities should be side-by-side. The goal of sport seems to be external. Physical activities have an internal goal. We must undertake the activity to realize that it keeps us healthy. Therefore all the proposed programs will be equal to the sports. In a sense, it is an internal goal. You will only find out that it feels good when you have done it and done it a lot.

Mr. DeVillers: I believe they are intertwined. Many people take part in organized sport for the physical activity benefit. They do not all want to be like Senator Mahovlich in the National Hockey League, but they want to become physically fit by playing recreational hockey, which is still organized. There is still the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. It is not a question of one or the other, there is an interconnection.

Senator Keon: Let me congratulate you on bringing forward this legislation. It is a definite step in the right direction. Having said that, I do want to raise some alarm bells.

The sport section of this bill is based on the premise that sport is good for health, and that is a false premise. Sport is not necessarily good for health at all. Indeed, a great deal of permanent injury occurs in sport. A tremendous amount of physical disability is the result of sport and some terrible lifestyle habits are the result of sports in youth; kids are made to bulk up way beyond their height-weight ratios. Take professional football players, for example. If you want to look at the most unhealthy group of specimens on the face of earth, look at the offensive and defensive lines of the National Football League. These guys have loaded their arteries in a way that they can never recover.

I want to come back to what Senator Cordy has said. If we are really going to make an impact on health outcomes, we have got to get into the schools and educate kids about healthy lifestyles. Physical activity is one component of a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, for the average obese youngster who is trying to jog off 30 pounds, they do much better just pushing themselves back from the table for a month.

We have to get realistic about this. I am a come-lately in giving you these comments. If I had had an opportunity along the way, I would have given them to you before. However, I believe in the implementation of this bill there should be an awareness of this fact. When this legislation is implemented, there should be a real effort made to couple it with a program of education for schools that will overcome the damage that can be created by misinformation about sport and health.

Mr. DeVillers: Obviously, there is no denying there are injuries in sports. There are other negative aspects to sport, but I feel it has to be looked at in totality. I believe by engaging Canadians to become physically active through sport, there are far more advantages than disadvantages.

Senator Keon: I am not sure you are right.

Mr. DeVillers: I agree with part of what you said, and that is the fact that we need to have that public awareness component and the schools component that, as I say, is part of the Canadian Sport Policy. If people can develop the physical activity habits at an early age, they are more likely to remain physically active for the rest of their lives. We have to focus on the schools. As I have indicated, the provinces and territories are cognizant of that and are committed to working on that.

These are the ministers responsible for sport, not necessarily the ministers responsible for education. Those are battles that they will have to wage at their own respective cabinet tables to ensure they can implement these.

Senator Cook: What would be success indicators for the proposed centre? Do you think it would be appropriate or useful to have the proposed centre subject to the Access to Information Act and to the Privacy Act?

Mr. DeVillers: The success would be if there were no cases whatsoever, then we would know that the sport system is working without disputes. Obviously, we are not going to see that. I think the measure of success would be the feedback that we get from the sports community. We would hope to hear them express satisfaction with the application of the centre and the cases with which it deals.

With respect to access to information and privacy, perhaps Mr. Charland could assist me on those questions.

Mr. Charland: We are dealing with the sensitive issue of disputes between private parties. The centre is not being set up as a federal institution.The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act usually deals with the rules that pertain to these institutions otherwise normal provincial law would apply.

The intent, and my understanding, is that the parties would probably want to ensure that there is a certain level of comfort in the rules as they pertain to access to the documents that they may exchange within the purview of their disputes and so forth. My understanding was that these acts were not going to apply, in addition to the fact that the centre was not a federal institution.

Mr. DeVillers: I might just add with respect to the public right to know, the proposed legislation contains provisions to ensure that the centre's reports and financial statements are made public.

Senator Cook: The thing that troubles me is that it is voluntary. You go to this place on a voluntary basis. Then the decision is binding. That is the situation in this day and age, where we strive for evidence-based information in all areas of our life to make informed decisions. That is where I was coming from in my first question.

There must be data out there now as to the level of the conflicts that is being managed by the courts or wherever. I hope there would be some evidence-based information that this new entity could use to support my concern here. It is the lack of transparency on something that is voluntary and then something on the other end that is binding.

Mr. DeVillers: As I indicated earlier, we have the interim ADR in place and we are learning from its application lessons that would be incorporated into the permanent system.

It is a question of access and speed. The typical case here would be an athlete not named to a team for an event. Normally those teams are announced a month or so before the event.

That dispute cannot practically get through the legal system within a month. Once the games are over, it gives little comfort to get a court decision saying that you should have been on the Olympic team last year. I do not believe that the courts are yet to the point of allowing damages for not having been on the team. It is mainly to have a system whereby athletes and their federations can have these disputes resolved in a timely fashion to be applicable for the specific sport needs.

Mr. Charland: The temporary ADR system currently posts decisions on a Web site so the public has access to the information. This legislation would allow the same type of mentality and operation in the matter of the transparency as it relates to the decision and the cases that are being heard.

Senator Cook: Would this centre have a Web site?

Mr. Charland: I am assuming it would in today's day and age. The legislation allows provides the board of directors with the flexibility to make those kinds of decisions

The Chairman: Minister, thank you very much for coming and taking the time to be with us this morning.

I should also tell you that in our final volume on health care, we did indicate that we would be doing a series of one- volume studies on specific aspects of the health care system, beginning with mental health. A special volume on prevention strategies is also high on our list. We will inevitably be having you back next year to talk further on that subject.

Mr. De Villers: I look forward to that discussion.

The Chairman: Senators, the question is whether we proceed by dispensing with clause-by-clause consideration or if anybody intends to move an amendment, in which case we will proceed with it on a clause-by-clause basis.

Senator Murray, do you wish to move amendments at this stage?

Senator Murray: I have none to move at this stage, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for asking.

The Chairman: Does any member of the committee have an amendment that they are contemplating moving?

Senator Roche: Mr. Chairman, it was not that I intended to move an amendment, but I want to be able to express my unhappiness at clause 35 by voting against it.

The Chairman: That is fine. The easiest way to do it is to proceed clause-by-clause.

The first issue is shall the preamble in clause 1, which is the short title clause, stand? That is carried.

To save me reading from 2 through to 40, can I simply ask members to indicate those clauses that they should like to have a recorded vote on? I understand 35 is one.

Senator Murray: Mr. Chairman, far be it from me to tell you how to do your job. However, why not go to 8?

The Chairman: That is all right. Clauses 1 through 8 carry, which is okay. Then that leads to clause 9?

Senator Murray: Yes.

The Chairman: So then the question is: Shall clause 9 carry? I would infer from that, Senator Murray, that you would like to vote on it.

Senator Murray: On division.

The Chairman: On division.

Beginning then with clause 10.

Senator LeBreton: I would like clause 5 on division, as well.

The Chairman: Clause 5 on division and clause 9 on division. We know we will have clause 35 on division.

Are there other clauses that people would like to have on division? Senator Roche?

Senator Roche: Well, back on clause 35, if I may?

The Chairman: Yes.

Senator Roche: I would like to delete the clause. I am prepared to move that, if that is in order.

The Chairman: I am happy to take that as a motion, to delete 35.

Senator Roche: Yes.

The Chairman: Should the deletion of clause 35, which happens to be an amendment to clause 35, carry?

Senator Roche votes for that deletion.

Senator Roche: Yes.

Senator Murray: Once again, shall clause 35 carry, yes or no?

The Chairman: Shall clause 35 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chairman: Senator Roche says no.

Everyone else? Yes? Clause 35 carries.

Senator LeBreton: I am still back on clause 5.

The Chairman: Are there any other clauses that people would like to either move a motion on or would like to have it noted that the clause passed on division?

Senator Murray: No. When you come back to the preamble and so on, I will just say on division.

The Chairman: Then that takes us back to the preamble, which is shall the preamble and clause 1 stand? The answer is on division, as I understand it, is that correct?

Senator Murray: Yes.

The Chairman: Therefore, shall Bill C-12 be reported back to the Senate without amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed, on division.

Senator Murray: On division.

The Chairman: On division.

Senators, we have one other witness this morning on Bill C-8. We will hear from Robert Friesen, the President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Some people here are not on the health care study. Those who are on the health care study, I would like to make a couple of announcements for you so that you understand where we are and what material we are going to give you.

As you all know, Mr. Romanow will be releasing his report next Thursday. We will deliver to you by the end of that day a comparison of Mr. Romanow's major recommendations and ours. We may not get into all the details of this because it is 400 pages, and we may not have gotten through it. You will be able to get the highlights in terms of what our report says and what his report says. We will do it as quickly as we can, recognizing that he has got a 400-page document.

Senator Roche: Is he giving us a pre-briefing?

The Chairman: No, he is not.

Senator Roche: You gave him a pre-briefing? Excuse me if I misspoke.

The Chairman: I had a discussion with him last week for an hour.

Senator Roche: The point I am trying to make, Mr. Chairman, is I was under the impression that you displayed a courtesy to Mr. Romanow by giving him an advanced understanding.

The Chairman: I had a discussion with him so that he knew broad outlines. I have had that discussion back. We know that we both have a catastrophic drug program. I do not know what his details are. I cannot give a comparison until I know the details of his program. We will get it out as quickly as we can. We may give you a top-line piece by noon and then another piece later in the day.

Senator Roche: By noon?

The Chairman: We think we can get that done if we get a copy at 7:30 in the morning, which we expect to.

I have made a decision not to comment to the press through the weekend because I want time to read the report. We will put out a press release congratulating Mr. Romanow on the report as he did with ours. However, I do not want to comment publicly until I have had a chance to read it. I will say nothing through the weekend.

On the following week, Monday, December 2, Senator LeBreton and I will be at the Canadian Club in Toronto where I will be speaking. I will do a fairly detailed reply when I speak in Toronto. Senator Cordy and I are at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday of that week where I will also do a reply.

I hope to have both of those speeches drafted by mid-next week, and I will give those to you. Some of the details will have to be filled in when I get the final report.

We will do our best to supply very quickly a detailed analysis of where we are and where Mr. Romanow is so that you are not blindsided.

Senator Keon: I take it that the committee should not comment publicly until our chairman has, correct?

The Chairman: I hesitate to put it that way because this is a group effort; people have to make that decision for themselves.

Senator Morin: I have jumped the gun here. I have agreed to have a one-hour session with Radio Canada's ``Maisonneuve à l'écoute'' on the Romanow report.

The Chairman: That is fine. The early press coverage will be very short clips. The detailed response will come in the two speeches and everyone will get those in advance.

Senator Cordy: Before we start with the witness, I saw on Newsworld that over the next week they will be doing a special study on issues anticipated coming out of the Romanow report. Today the topic was pharmacare, and they featured the gentleman who had written a paper for the report. If we had an idea of those kinds of things that you are saying, it will probably be a good medium to what we can anticipate.

The Chairman: Thank you. I did not know that. That is helpful. We will do that.

Senators, the witness this morning is Mr. Robert Friesen, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. With him is Ms. Nicole Howe, a policy analyst with the federation. Thank you for coming. We look forward to hearing your comments on Bill C-8 and then to asking you some questions.

Mr. Robert Friesen, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture: I would like to say a few words about the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. We do have a general farm organization member out of each of the provinces. We also have several national commodity organizations as members — all the poultry agencies, the dairy farmers of Canada, Canadian pork, and probably, for the subject at hand, most importantly, the Canadian Horticulture Council. They could not make it today; I believe they were invited. However, they will be submitting a written submission.

We have consulted, as we always do with our members, before we do a presentation such as this. As most of you know, the area of pesticide management and especially minor use is very important to the horticulture industry across Canada.

It is very timely that we are having this discussion since all of you are probably familiar by now with the agricultural policy framework discussions that we have been having with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. They speak to the necessity and the importance of farmers having all the tools that they possibly can have to farm within a stable and viable environment. We are trying to get the agricultural industry to the point where it is not always asking about more money but about how we can develop tools that help farmers do what they do so well and for which they have such a good reputation around the world. Pesticide legislation and management of pesticides is key to that discussion.

Farmers are very keen to make sure that they are environmentally responsible. In fact, environmental sustainability is one of the key elements in the agricultural policy framework. You might be interested to know that since 1987, OACD numbers tell us that Canadian farmers have reduced pesticide use by 20 per cent. They are trying to be responsible and will continue to be responsible and accountable for how they use pesticides at the farm gate.

There are many positive aspects to the proposed legislation, including the strengthening of health and environmental protection by requiring special consideration for children and other major identifiable groups; greater transparency in the whole process; recognition of reduced risk products and reduced timelines for their registration; recognition of minor use products in the regulation section; and, the commitment to a scientifically based national registration system.

Our presentation this morning will be focused more on what we would like to see added to the bill, rather than any particular problem that we have with something that is currently in the bill. We hope that this legislation will be a catalyst for the government and for the Pest Management Regulatory Agency — PMRA — to look at what is happening in pest management and the use of pesticides so we can all work towards a collective objective: To ensure that we have a healthy environment and that we are responsible with the use of pesticide.

We would like to see a better balance in the legislation. When it talks about the risks that pesticides pose, there also needs to be a balance and a mention of some of the value that pesticides can have in reducing health and environmental risks as far as the pests that are currently out there. That speaks to the necessity of having tools for farmers to make sure that they can comply with some of the stringent food safety programs that we are putting into place. For example, toxic moulds in grain, or livestock pests that we must eradicate to deliver a safe product.

We would also like to see a better balance between the tools that are aimed at registering new products and the tools that have been made available in the legislation to take old products off the shelf. Currently, there are five ways that existing products can be taken off the shelf. These are re-evaluation, special review, comparative risk assessment, precautionary principle, and the 15-year mandatory re-evaluation. These tools ensure that if we have unhealthy and environmentally risky products on the shelf, we have ways to remove them.

However, it is very important for farmers to be able to have replacement products that we hope would be more benign to the environment and to health risk. It is certainly important that farmers have alternatives. The more access farmers have to benign alternatives, the more quickly we will be able to move away from the products that are currently on the shelf and are considered to be at high risk to the environment or to health.

We have concerns related to the special review process. There are currently four ways to trigger a special review: as the minister deems necessary; if an OECD country bans a product; if a federal or provincial department calls for a special review; and if the Canadian public calls for a special review. Our specific concern — and I will address the one relating to the OECD later — is that there is a discrepancy: When a federal or provincial department requests the minister to do a special review, they are required to produce information that addresses the health and environmental risks that they think a product is posing. When it comes to a member of the Canadian public asking for a special review, there is no request for that information. We think that there is an inconsistency there and that everyone should be required to provide information so that requests for removal of a product or for a review of a product do not become frivolous and do not create more anxiety than a constructive process.

We would also like to see a better balance between what we consider to be an ``opening'' or more transparency in the legislation or in pest management and what we consider is still going to be too closed after the legislation has been passed. This relates to the fact that we are moving towards more public access to information and public participation in the registration process, which is strongly promoted in the legislation. However, there is no requirement for the PMRA to be transparent with how efficient they are in re-evaluating, in registering and in looking at registrations or applications. As well, there is no transparency in the budget, and how efficient they are with the current allocation that they receive to manage pests across Canada.

We would like to see far more transparency in their compliance with the efficiency objectives. We would also like assurance that we are receiving good money for the investment in PMRA.

Our other concern is that there is not enough mention in the legislation about timelines. It does speak to the process to register a product; that is laid out fairly well. It also speaks to the requirements that a registrant must meet, which are well-defined. However, there is no mention of the timelines that create the framework for the PMRA to ensure that they do things in a timely fashion and that the product will be registered in a timely fashion so that farmers have those important alternatives that I talked about earlier.

We would recommend that the preamble contain a statement ensuring that the rules and regulations facilitate the registration of new product. We need that to be emphasized as much as we have emphasized the fact that we need re- assess products to know whether they pose a health and environmental risk. Again, it speaks to environmental sustainability, et cetera.

While we have to ensure that responsible pesticide use, we would also like to see recognition of the need to indicate that we have food safety and health risks relating to pests that we need to control. We would like to see a balance in how those are recognized in the preamble as well.

We would also like to see incorporated in the preamble the recognition for timely access to safe and effective pest control products. We would also like to see a statement that indicates how competitiveness between products and companies will be encouraged. This speaks to the fact that farmers need choice; we do not want to have a situation where there is only one chemical on the shelf. Companies could take advantage of that and exploit farmers when it comes to their purchases of needed chemicals.

We would like the mandate section under the proposed legislation to be much stronger in recognizing the minister's responsibility in facilitating access to minor-use products. The minor-use issue is huge in Canada. That is because we have many smaller commodity industries. For example, in the horticulture industry some products are grown but they are not considered part of a large industry, hence a company in Canada does not take the time, effort and cost to register a product for use for that commodity in Canada. Inevitably, we import those products from the U.S. that have in face been exposed to that chemical, but we do not allow our producers the competitive advantage to at least have a minor-use for that pest control product. Therefore, we would like some true recognition of the importance of recognizing that minor-use issue. We would like to see a definition of ``minor-use'' in the proposed legislation.

We would also like to see under the mandate, the importance of the minister's role in promoting harmonization with OECD countries. There are two issues here. You have all heard of the problem we have in harmonization with the U.S., which is a huge competitor in Canada for some of the products for which we use pest control products. We really need to drive towards better harmonization — not to go to a low common denominator, but we need to ensure that we uphold our standards. Let us see if we can harmonize on a timely basis that would save us time and money as far as registering products in Canada. This would also greatly facilitate this competitiveness that we talk about in the agriculture policy framework.

Under the registration of pest control products, we have the comparative risk assessment. Again, this is a competitiveness issue and a choice issue. We would have some concern that we would not use the comparative risk assessment too easily and too frivolously. For example, the PMAR does not decide what we currently have of similar product on the shelf, so we would not try to register a similar product. There are two reasons for that: First, that brings us back to a situation where a farmer would not have a choice, and companies could take advantage and exploit farmers by charging far more for the product than it is worth. Second, there could be a case where the similar product is not as uniquely appropriate for a certain product. Therefore, we need to ensure that farmers have choices and that they have appropriate and safe products for any unique situation.

We would suggest that the whole comparative risk assessment section in the proposed legislation is not necessary. We feel that products should be evaluated and registered based on their own merit after a good scientific assessment for health risk and environmental risk.

Currently there is nothing in the proposed legislation in respect of timelines. There is no accountability for the PMRA to ensure that they register products in a timely manner. We would like to see something on timelines in the proposed legislation. Currently, PMRA works under what is called a ``management of submission'' policy. Again, there is no compliance to ensure that the timelines are followed, and there is not enough accountability.

Concerning annual reporting of the PMRA, we appreciate that the proposed legislation now requires the Minister of Health to provide an annual report to Parliament. The House of Commons has broadened the scope of this report. However, we request that the PMRA report follow the model provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act — CFIA. The CFIA does require financial statements of the agency and of the Auditor General of Canada's opinion on them, as well as information about the agency's performance with respect to the objectives established in the corporate business plan and a summary statement of the assessment by the Auditor General of Canada of the fairness and reliability of that information. We do have a precedent in that we have this for a similar arm's length agency in the CFIA. We would like that incorporated into the proposed legislation to apply to the PMRA as well.

In conclusion, there are several other considerations. We would like to ensure that the government undertakes an open consultation with stakeholders when they draft the regulations and policy directives to implement this proposed legislation. For example, there is a definition of ``value'' in the bill. When it comes to price, product, utility, for any given product, we believe that the stakeholders need to be consulted to determine what the value of a product is and what the price-utility of that product is. We would encourage open consultation. This deals with the whole area of efficacy. The PMRA currently does efficacy tests on products, while our competitors in the U.S. do not. There is no definition of ``efficacy'' in the proposed legislation. A good definition would greatly help this whole discussion of price, product, utility, value and efficacy.

We would also like to see the government undertake vigorous communications with Canadians to promote the understanding of pesticide regulation and the proposed pesticide legislation. This speaks to the whole area of branding Canada and to the area of what our Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food refers to as, ``grown in Canada,'' or raising the profile of agriculture.

We need to promote the good news story of agriculture to our public and to our consumer. We should tell the public when we have good pesticide legislation and good regulations and policy directives within that legislation.

Farmers want to be accountable and responsible. They have decreased pesticide use by 20 per cent over the last 18 years. We would like have good communications on that.

In conclusion, let me commit our organization and farmers across Canada to wanting to be very responsible when it comes to food safety, health risk and environmental sustainability. We want to look at different ways of improving in those areas as well. To continue to do this, we must have a strong regulatory system that is efficient, transparent and science-based. For your consideration, we submit the suggestions in the more detailed document for your consideration for inclusion in the proposed legislation.

The Chairman: Were the suggestions for amendment that you have in this presentation put forward to the House of Commons committee?

Mr. Friesen: Yes, they were.

The Chairman: As I recall, some of your amendments were accepted, and some were not. Am I correct?

Mr. Friesen: Yes.

Senator LeBreton: How does the Federation of Agriculture deal with the problem of our proximity to the U.S. border and our competition with the United States when new products — probably an improvement over the previous product — gain approval in the United States but not in Canada? What does that cost the producer in terms of lost market and lost revenue? Is it a problem?

Mr. Friesen: It is a huge problem. Some of you will know that we have talked about it for years. I mentioned earlier efficacy testing. Currently the PMRA is spending money on efficacy tests. If a product is not working, it will not take a farmer very long to realize that. We do even feel that the efficacy is necessary.

I could give you some specific examples on where we have, after a long session of lobbying, finally received emergency approval for use of certain products because they were coming in from the U.S. Our producers did not have certain products that they needed. It is an exhaustive and time-consuming process to gain that approval. Sometimes it takes so long that the need for the product has passed. Therefore, extra costs are incurred.

Some of you may know that fusarium is a huge problem in Ontario as well as in some provinces in the West. I recall one year when we had record levels of barley being imported into Alberta. We knew that it had been treated with a chemical that our producers could not use. That year alone the cost of fusarium in Manitoba and Ontario alone was around $150 million. We allow horticultural products to come into Canada that have had pest products used on them that are illegal for use in Canada. It then becomes a competitiveness issue.

We are not trying to pit competitiveness against health and environmental safety. However, if that forbidden product is being used on that which we import, it becomes a competitiveness issue. Obviously, we are allowing our consumer to buy that product so our farmers should have access to the same product. We are talking about input costs, et cetera.

Senator LeBreton: The United States has many climate zones. Perhaps a particular pesticide is approved for use in the southern United States, but it does not have a northern application. Does that cause problems? Perhaps it is a good product but our producers have no access to it. If they use it, would they be breaking the law?

Mr. Friesen: They are breaking the law if they use a product not registered for use in Canada. We are encouraging the use of zone maps to make sure that we do not use a product that, for some reason, could be very detrimental to the environment. For example, perhaps a chemical is being used in Florida. We might assume that it would work for Canada. However, it might be more dangerous in colder conditions.

We not only import products into Canada that have been exposed to pesticides — although there might be no residue — we actually have tolerance levels in Canada for importation of products. In other words, we allow a certain level of residue on some products of chemicals that are illegal for use in Canada. That makes no sense to the farmers that we represent.

Senator LeBreton: The strawberry crop for one.

Senator Morin: We all agree with timely access. It is a matter of resources. The more resources you have, the faster the product is approved.

Canada has the lowest user fee level of all OECD countries. The U.S., is not only a larger country but they have a higher percentage of their user fees dedicated to approval process of pesticides.

Should we increase our user fees? PMRA is in the unique position in the federal government of keeping its user fees for its own use. For example, in the drug approval system, the user fees go back to the general revenue. PMRA for some reason has succeeded in retaining the user fee. Perhaps the answer is to increase user fees for the various products.

We do not have all these competitive products because with limited resources, they tend to approve safer products, not similar products. If you have a choice between putting resources on approving a safer product or a similar product, you would go for the safer product. I understand your point that we should have more similar products because this would increase competition, which is good.

I would like you to address the matter of resources. We are a country that is relatively small compared with the U.S. We are faced with a regulatory process that takes more time than in the U.S. We are always faced with this issue in all fields.

I cannot follow you well on the special review. It is not because a Canadian citizen requests a review that one will be done, as you stated. Clause 5 of the bill notes that the minister shall decide whether a special review shall be initiated or not. If a minister decides that the request is frivolous, the review would not be performed.

However, if someone believes that a dangerous side effect is developing, a Canadian citizen should have the right to write the minister and state concern about the product. The minister may decide whether to review the product.

I would not exclude this prerogative from the legislation. Clause 17(5) provides a barrier to frivolous reviews.

I am surprised that you did not raise the fact that farmers and their families are the most at risk with pesticides. There was a recent episode in Chile where much serious illness and a number of deaths occurred among the wine growers. Here again, it was not the consumers that were affected but the growers and their families. They use these agents on a regular basis and were exposed to it.

I was hoping that there would be the introduction of recommendations to protect farmers, their families and their employees to avoid such a situation as happened in Chile.

Mr. Friesen: You are absolutely right, and this is often an argument we make when farmers are accused of being irresponsible with chemicals. That applies to nutrient management as well. Farmers and their families live in the areas where pesticides are applied to a large extent. I was a grain farmer before I went into livestock production and if I compare how I applied pesticides when I was a grain producer to what farmers are doing now, there is a big difference. Some provinces are going to a training and licensing process for the application of pesticide products. There is much more responsibility as far as recycling the containers that these pest products come in. Much work is being done towards protecting the farmer and the employees that may be applying the product.

There is a great deal more responsibility to monitor wind drift when pesticides are applied and to consider accountability and respect for neighbours and the neighbours' families. I believe we have come a long way in that area.

You emphasized the need for balance and you are absolutely right. We cannot spend far more time and money on moving products off the shelf than we do in ensuring that there are more benign alternatives. It is absolutely imperative that there is a balance.

In consideration of a higher fee for services, the CFA is currently involved in a PMRA cost-recovery review. We hope to glean some information from that to know whether the fees for services are representative of the service that is being provided. You spoke about the lowest cost. Right now, we are trying to drive the PMRA to greater efficiency. As yet, we have not had a great deal of discussion on how much more money the PMRA needs. This is one of the reasons we emphasized the need for transparency, not only as far as registrants have to do to apply but also in the timelines, how efficient and how timely the PMRA is moving the process along. That may open our eyes with respect to fee for services, cost recovery and thus being the lowest-cost pest management agency in the world.

I believe there have been substantial improvements made in recent years. However, we are hoping to move to greater efficiency, which we believe can be done through harmonization without necessarily increasing the cost. However, we must ensure that it is not just partial harmonization.

In other words, we can harmonize with the U.S. but still hang on to this efficacy thing. If we still have the efficacy, then how much will harmonization help? We have to harmonize to a high standard. We are not trying to cut corners. We believe a more open system, especially a North American market, would greatly help the fee for services and ensure that we have a more efficient system.

Ms. Nicole Howe, Environmental Policy Analyst, Canadian Federation of Agriculture: Concerning special review, I just want to clarify that our suggestion would not be the removal of the ability of Canadian citizens to request a special review. We have noted within the proposed legislation that there seem to be two tiers of information required to ask that question. For the federal or provincial departments, it states that they have to submit information regarding the Health and Environmental risk or the value of the product, whereas a general citizen does not have to provide that information. That is the comment we have made about the special review section.

There is a discrepancy between the thresholds to request a special review. That is not to assume that any citizen who asks for one will be given one. We do realize that the minister has the authority to review those.

I would also like to quickly comment on a few of the issues that you raised. Within this proposed legislation there is actually something new that requires the provision of safety information in the workplaces, which would help protect producers who comprise some of the groups that are primarily around pesticides. That would be useful in this proposed legislation.

Senator Morin: I am sure you favour that and support that.

Ms. Howe: Yes. We have questions on how it would be implemented. It could be difficult to have on every farm, but that will have to be worked out later in the regulations.

On the issue of raising the fee to have a registration looked at by the PMRA, I would be cautious in saying that it could improve the system. Canada has such a small market and if we were to raise the fees so that an application could be looked at, companies submitting their registrations may not be inclined to come to Canada. If they pay such a substantial fee to have the registration looked at, they may not be able to regain any profit from the Canadian market because it is smaller. That is why we really favour harmonization as a way to increase the efficiency of the PMRA.

Senator Morin: ``Harmonization'' is a code word.

Does that mean ``rubber stamping'' what has been approved elsewhere?

Ms. Howe: Not at all.

Senator Morin: What do you mean by ``harmonization''? If we still go through the same regulatory process as our neighbours, what does ``harmonization'' mean?

Ms. Howe: I will give credit to the PMRA, which is doing a lot of harmonization already, but we believe there are areas for improvement. Harmonization is ensuring that something as basic as the format to submit an application in Canada may be similar to that in the OECD and the U.S. We have come to an agreement. There is a common OECD application that companies can now submit, in all OECD companies. It saves time at both ends.

We are also promoting such things as joint registrations whereby, for example, the PMRA and the U.S. EPA would share the workload to jointly register a product in both countries. Obviously, that could save both agencies time and money.

Senator Morin: Very good.

Mr. Friesen: When we talk about harmonization, we are not necessarily saying that we have to adopt the level of risk that the Americans want to adopt. However, we are saying: Let us accept the information that they come up with in their research. Then, we have to make our own decision as to whether that complies with our standards. It is not so much a harmonization of standards but rather it is a harmonization of the information that is gathered when they research a specific product, et cetera.

Additionally, concerning the special review, it is interesting to note that the proposed legislation acknowledges the existence of a precautionary principle. The Canadian government has never subscribed to the notion internationally that there is such a thing as a precautionary principle. We endorse the concept of a precautionary approach but there is no principle that defines what that actually means. When you consider the precautionary principle and the strength of lobbying, we believe that it is important for anybody who makes a request for a special review, to provide some information that adds credibility to the problem that they may be reporting.

Senator Morin: Thank you for your clarification.

Senator Gustafson: I was pleased with your presentation because my concern is harmonization. It is so important because of the trade across that border. It is very important in the cattle industry, the grain industry — all of industries.

Timing, as you indicated, is very important. We are in competition with the Americans in many of these fields, including cattle. Mr. Friesen would probably know better than I, but 75 cent of our cattle probably go across the line. Cattle are now coming into Alberta, especially, the Lethbridge area, from the States. Therefore, harmonization is very important.

With respect to safety, we have the grasshopper plague out there. I have noticed that farmers are much more concerned about their safety. They are much more cautious than they have ever been.

Control of grain beetles in the grain is a major problem for us because the weather has to be warm for the chemical to work. The Province of Saskatchewan has introduced a program whereby someone in the community administers the program, and he comes and puts a sign on the bin for safety.

We do not like all of those things because it is more bureaucratic. The farmer would crawl on top of the bin, take a hockey stick and put something on it and push the pills down in the bin. It worked very well. However, they are tightening up. There is no question.

Farmers are responding to the safety concern. Those are my comments. I believe you have covered it very well.

Mr. Friesen: You are right. When it comes to the grains and oil seeds sector, the livestock sector and the horticultural sector, we essentially have a free trade agreement with the U.S. We have open borders.

Senator Gustafson: Absolutely.

Mr. Friesen: The more open the borders, the more there is a need to respond appropriately to agriculture policy in other countries and not to compromise our safety standards. We need to use all of the information and anything we possibly can that other countries have garnered through their work.

Regarding the importation of products, some countries point the finger at Canada sometimes and almost make us a laughing stock because we actually accept lower standards for our import than we do for the food that we produce ourselves. We must ensure that we prevent that as well.

Senator Morin: Mr. Friesen, what about the hockey stick technique? You did not talk about that.

Mr. Friesen: That was good anecdotal evidence of the past.

Senator Gustafson: The Canadian Western Agribition will be held in Regina next week. It is the largest agriculture and livestock show in the world. There will be any number of cattle coming across the border to be entered in the show.

Senator Léger: Is it the same department in government, that forbids certain pests and then after accepts the entry of products that have been grown with the same material that was forbidden?

Mr. Friesen: It is my understanding that the importation of food products would be under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is part of Agriculture. The PMRA is now responsible for the registration of products in Canada. They are two separate arm's length agencies.

Senator Léger: Maybe they do not communicate? Is that it?

Mr. Friesen: I can assure you that we have emphasized the need to address this, especially within the context of the agriculture policy framework. We need to build stronger crosswalks between the different jurisdictions that have responsibility in agriculture so that there is a harmonization of our policies and that the development of one over here does not undermine the utility of another policy over there.

The Chairman: Mr. Friesen, let me make two comments:

If after the bill is in effect, you continue to have trouble on the harmonization front, would you let us know? Either the Senate agriculture committee or this committee will deal with that quickly, because that is an intolerable situation.

Second, I will respond to your comment about the unequal burden of proof required from citizens and groups such as provincial departments and others who have resources to launch a complaint. That is not uncommon in federal legislation — or indeed in some provincial legislation — where one reserves the right of an individual citizen to make a complaint against the government, which the government may or may not do anything about. However, if an organized group with clear resources behind it wants to launch a complaint, then they should clearly deal with the frivolousness issue. That is not terribly unusual in federal legislation.

Mr. Friesen: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I want to emphasize that we support the intent of this legislation. The additions that we have suggested can be made without undermining that intent. We would encourage you to seriously consider these submissions.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Senators, could I have a quick motion to allow us to table in the Senate the legislation budget for the committee? Senator LeBreton and I have approved it at $10,500.

Senator Cordy: I so move.

The Chairman: Agreed.

The committee adjourned.


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