THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
OTTAWA, Thursday, June 1, 2017
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, to which were referred Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), met this day at 10:30 a.m. to give consideration to these bills.
Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
I’m Kelvin Ogilvie, from Nova Scotia, chair of the committee. I’d like to start by asking my colleagues to introduce themselves.
Senator Eggleton: Art Eggleton, senator from Toronto, deputy chair of the committee.
Senator Dean: Tony Dean, Ontario.
Senator Neufeld: Richard Neufeld, British Columbia.
Senator Petitclerc: Chantal Petitclerc, from Quebec.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Carolyn Stewart Olsen, New Brunswick.
Senator Raine: Nancy Greene Raine, British Columbia.
Senator Seidman: Judith Seidman, Montreal, Quebec.
The Chair: Thank you, colleagues.
I will remind us that we are here today to deal with Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We have with us today the co-sponsors of the bill and the Alzheimer Society of Canada. I will identify them as I invite them to make their presentation.
I will invite the co-sponsors first. We have the Honourable Robert Nicholson, P.C., and Robert Oliphant, both members of Parliament, Mr. Nicholson for Niagara Falls and Mr. Oliphant for Don Valley West. We are delighted to have you here today. I’ll turn it over to you to make your presentations.
Hon. Robert Nicholson, P.C., M.P., Niagara Falls, co-sponsor of the bill: Thank you very much, senator. Thank you very much to your committee. Thank you very much for the work that the Senate has done in this area. Your report has been extremely helpful to everyone who has an interest in this. I’ll give a shout out to my colleague Senator Stewart Olsen, and particularly my colleague Robert Oliphant. He and I worked together on this, as you know, and I very much appreciate this.
This is not a partisan issue, in my opinion. This is something that affects all Canadians and the people around this committee table know of the tragedy that Alzheimer’s and other dementias have caused. You have the statistics before you that it’s going to increase the costs for caregivers, governments, everyone. So, I’m very pleased to be here to make the case for this national coordinated strategy, because we don’t have to have each province and everybody reinventing the wheel, and to do something that will bring international co-operation to this, I think, is extremely important.
What this bill does, among other things, is establish a roundtable to receive input from Canadians. It would develop a national strategy, ensuring the autonomy of the provinces remains intact.
Second, the bill will encourage greater investment in all areas related to Alzheimer’s and dementia in addition to coordinating with international bodies to fight against this disease.
Third, it would seek to assist the provinces in developing and disseminating diagnostic treatment guidelines based on new research. All of those measures have been thoroughly considered to ensure the successful passage of this legislation.
This bill respects provincial guidelines and it is drafted in a way that does not require a Royal Recommendation. I’m asking this committee to move forward on this.
I can tell you, senators, that I was, frankly, quite surprised after introducing this bill, by all the feedback I’ve gotten across this country, through my constituency office and my office here on the hill. I was surprised at how many people, organizations and others looked at this very favourably.
I think this is an important step in the right direction. I thank you for all the work you have done and I thank my colleague Rob Oliphant for his support on this. It’s great to be here with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Chief Executive Officer, Pauline Tardif. I thank you for all your help on this so far.
The Chair: Mr. Oliphant, I understand you wish to make comments as well.
Robert Oliphant, M.P., Don Valley West, co-sponsor of the bill: If I can make a brief comment as well. Primarily I want to thank the Senate and this committee, especially those members who were on the committee during your study. I have been, frankly, flogging your study to mention in Canada at every opportunity I get, for a couple of reasons.
One, I think that the legislation that Mr. Nicholson has presented in the house, which I’ve been very pleased to second, is an example of taking a piece of work that you were working on and doing the very best of what the Senate does, an in-depth study, and frankly a brilliant report, and the house is doing what it does best, in taking the opportunity that you provided and creating a piece of legislation. It then comes back here for your consideration. I think this shows Canadians the way our bicameral system can work; the tremendous advantage we have by having an upper house that has the opportunity to study issues of Canadian importance; and also to both draft and produce a report that’s readable, is interesting and looks good.
I need to tell you that I took your report recently to what’s called the Liaison Committee in the House of Commons, which is the chairs of all the standing committees. I showed them the report. I showed them a House of Commons report and I said this is the way our reports should read and look. It is really a fine example of very good work.
It’s very good work about a very important subject. I think what Mr. Nicholson has said, I just want to echo that there’s been no piece of legislation that I have worked on that has attracted so much positive interest from constituents as this one has.
It is a problem that is being faced by an aging population and by a sandwiched population, where children and young people are requiring more and more attention from their parents who are engaged in the workplace in building the Canadian economy; and they are dealing with parents who are facing problems -- a variety of problems.
I understand that dementia is not only about aging. However, the statistics show us that as we have an aging population, dementia is increasing. So, it becomes a high-cost illness; it becomes a high-social-cost illness. It’s not only the financial burden that is placed on people, but it is the social burden.
This bill takes one of the principal recommendations you have made in your call for a partnership to have a national coordinating group that will monitor, promote and ensure that the strategy that is developed, in consultation, and then monitored and constantly guided by a steering committee by that group which will be collaborative, will bring together patients, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, civil society groups like the Alzheimer Society of Canada, as well as parliamentarians and the Minister of Health, to ensure that we have the best strategy. Canada is falling behind.
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with two physician researchers, Dr. Sandra Black and Dr.Mario Masellis, both from Sunnybrook Hospital, both dealing with neurodegenerative diseases, calling for more research and also showing that Canada has a competitive edge in this. If we provide the money and we provide the encouragement,then we will make a difference.
Thank you again, senators, for your work. I hope you do a hasty consideration of our bill, but that it’s thorough in that you have already done a pre-study on this bill by having done such a fine study and it’s a pleasure to be here today.
The Chair: It’s a pleasure to welcome Pauline Tardif, who is the new Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
Pauline Tardif, Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer Society of Canada: Good morning, and thank you. As the new CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada and close caregiver of my mother, who is living with vascular dementia, I’m delighted to speak with you today. Thank you very much for your time.
As the new CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, I’m really delighted to speak with you today and I thank you very much for this important opportunity to have the voice of people living with dementia heard this morning.
It was just over a year ago that the Alzheimer Society appeared before this committee.
As we’ve discussed, the society and our provincial partners have long advocated for a national dementia strategy. We believe firmly that it is the single most effective tool to transform the quality of life and the quality of care for more than half a million Canadians who are living today with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and caregivers and their families as well. As Rob Oliphant mentioned, this disease affects more than just the person living with dementia.
Last November, when this committee released its landmark report, we were thrilled with your recommendation to create a partnership to address dementia.
Nevertheless, we’re confident that Canada is about to become the 30th nation to adopt a national dementia strategy. There’s no need for reminders that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are an urgent health issue in Canada and abroad.
That’s why the World Health Organization has recently adopted a global action plan on dementia at its seventieth World Health Assembly in Geneva.
The WHO has urged all governments to meet targets to advance dementia awareness, risk reduction, diagnosis, care and treatment, as well as increase support for research and caregivers. We thank Canada for endorsing the plan unanimously adopted by all 194 member states of the WHO.
Because the impact of dementia continues to grow, we need to stop talking and start acting, and this bill does this. These policies, which will meaningfully transform the quality and care of our life and the life of our friends, families and fellow citizens who are impacted by this disease, are urgently needed. Bill C-233 can do this. We need to make sure it’s enacted into law without further delay. Only then will the Government of Canada commit to specific objectives, timelines and outcomes.
This bill is critical to people living with dementia. A strategy on paper, as we know, serves no purpose. But bringing it to life provides the opportunity to improve the quality of life of Canadians living with dementia.
The success of a national dementia strategy requires commitment at the highest level of our government. It requires meaningful funding and a strong implementation plan, and its effectiveness must be closely monitored.
The Senate report, the report that you produced on dementia, provides the framework for this. The Alzheimer Society across Canada supports people living with dementia, including their caregivers and their family members, through a variety of programs and services, some of which I know you know well, as well as through important investments in dementia research.
We’re often described as the voice of Canadians affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We look forward to providing our expertise on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia to benefit the development of a national dementia strategy.
Our priority is to ensure that the implementation of a national strategy is informed by best practice, with clear targets and reporting structures. But above all else, we want to make sure that the process engages people with lived experience so that the strategy reflects their needs.
We’re also prepared to work closely with those individuals and groups who will be tasked with the day-to-day work of implementing the strategy.
To that end, the Alzheimer Society was very pleased to learn about the new division of aging, seniors and dementia at the Public Health Agency of Canada, which will consist of a dedicated dementia team. We look forward to meeting with that group this afternoon to discuss how we can be of assistance to them in moving forward toward an implementation of a national dementia strategy.
In closing, I want to thank all the committee members for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today.
Mr. Chair,Mr. Deputy Chair Eggleton and to all the senators around this table, and, of course, to the Honourable Rob Nicholson and Rob Oliphant, on behalf of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for inviting me to speak with you today and for moving this bill forward.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Our viewers who watch this committee regularly will know that we are known for the thoroughness of our studies. We’re hoping to deal with this in one meeting today. So I think it is important to emphasize what all of you have referred to, and that is that we have studied this issue in great detail, and our report that Mr. Oliphant referred to is a detailed report we produced and it emerged in the Senate in November of last year.
At that time, already there were 24 other countries in the world that had a national strategy, and that number has increased since that time. It is clear that this is a worldwide issue and we must provide for Canadians the opportunities and, of course, with a national strategy we can interface with other nations much more effectively. We already do in a number of ways, but this will enhance that.
Our report, for the benefit of those watching, has 29 recommendations, of which 28 do in some way make recommendations around how to implement a national strategy.
Finally, I want to acknowledge and also agree entirely with the comments that the sponsors have made, that this is a great example of the movement of studies to legislation, to conclusion in the Parliament of Canada. This bill is absolutely essential to move the recommendations into action, to move them forward. On behalf of the committee, I want to say we were delighted to see this bill introduced. We are delighted to see it here before us, and we hope to be able to get this to Royal Assent in good time.
With that, I’m going to open up the floor to my colleagues. I will start with the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Senator Stewart Olsen.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you both for doing this bill and moving along in tandem. I think that you’re right; it is the greatest thing that we can do. The Alzheimer Society, my hat goes off to you for the long, hard work over the years that you all have done in helping Canadians face this looming problem.
I’ll just mention our report. I’m so pleased that your bill and our reports mesh so well. One of the things I did really notice when I took it around to the health centres in my province of New Brunswick is that people go almost immediately to the pages where we’ve given the lists of how you can get more information, where you can look. That points to the real reason that this bill is so important; it’s the information gathering and then dissemination that is so important in this country, because of our tendency towards silos of care.
Without further ado, I have no questions. I’m just going to pass on to my colleagues.
Senator Eggleton: Thank you to all three of you for being here today and for the work you’re doing in this regard. We will understand it because we’ve been involved in this for several months in preparing our report. I’m delighted to see it’s a bipartisan, or we can say non-partisan, effort coming from the House of Commons. It is totally complementary to the work we have done. You’ve provided a framework for a national strategy. We’ve put meat on the bones with 29 recommendations to indicate how in fact it can be carried out.
I also want to mention, in addition to what the chair had to say about our report, that we did send our report, as is customary, to the Minister of Health. There’s the requirement that 180 days—no more than that—shall pass before a response comes from the ministry; and we did get one. We got an eight-page response, which extensively covered details of spending and various initiatives that were already under way, but it really said very little about the 29 recommendations in our report. We’re hopeful that you’ll help us to push ahead our report as becoming part of the government’s agenda.
Having said that, let me ask you a question about the suggestion you have in the bill of an advisory board. It also comes out in our report, in the first few recommendations, which talk about a Canadian partnership to address dementia. It sets up some sort of organizational structure, in either case, to do so.
We did get a submission to your bill from an organization called Dementia Justice, and they indicated some hope that there would be an advisory board, as you recommended, more comprehensive in scope and composition. They specifically recommended the addition of legal professionals, criminal justice advocates, et cetera.
I wonder what your thoughts are about the advisory board and who else might be included on this board.
Mr. Nicholson: Obviously, we want to make it as comprehensive as possible, but we wanted it to be specific to the issues with respect to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. There’s nothing stopping a board like this reaching out to the legal community or, indeed, to anyone on that. But if you’ll notice the definition that we included in there, it’s pretty broad in the sense that you’re bringing people in from the provinces, from the federal government, people who have expertise in this, from health groups and public agencies. You want it to be inclusive, but you don’t want it to be so broad as to lose track of exactly what it is that we’re focused on.
I’m satisfied with the definition that we’ve included, but again, this does not preclude that committee from drawing expertise from any avenue.
Senator Eggleton: And you’re providing for 15 members.
Mr. Oliphant: I might just add, this is a health bill and it doesn’t preclude other issues like housing, justice and those things being dealt with in other parts. There’s always work to be done, but we’ve very much focused on the health issues, the research issues, the caregiving issues, and those things. We’re not denying the other issues. This is a health bill.
Senator Seidman: Thank you to all three of you for being here today. I might wave the report around proudly, as well. I don’t want to go on either and belabour the point, but it was a huge privilege to have been part of the committee in listening to witness testimony and deliberating and producing this report. We did debate quite furiously about some aspects of this. And if I might ask you, in fact, about the advisory board, but in a very particular way.
One of the things we talked a lot about is all the organizations in the country and the various levels of government that are involved in this area. An advisory board advises. That is the role of an advisory board. We talked about how we would build in structure and accountability.
An advisory board doesn’t do that. The advisory board in your bill meets twice a year; at least it’s expected to meet at least twice a year. But where’s the oversight; a steering committee, something? The advisory board reports to the minister.
I’m struggling with this, because I know it was a subject we debated a lot at committee, how to have some kind of structure so that there’s a built-in accountability beyond just an advisory board.
Mr. Nicholson: First of all, they will meet at least twice a year, so they can meet more often than that. In addition, they are required to report to the minister. What we have is that the minister herself has to report to Parliament in two years as to how this is working out. So, in a sense, Parliament will be seized with this once again.
You’re right; it’s a balance that we have. But I do want to pick up one of the components that you said, and that is the co-operation on issues like this between the Senate and the House of Commons. This is something, for the most part, that the public is unaware of.
As somebody who has testified more times before a Senate committee than I think most people in this country, I understand the importance and the work that the Senate does on pieces of legislation and on issues like this, and this is a great example of the two Houses of Parliament coming together for one reason and that is to focus on the problems with respect to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
I believe that, in turn, we don’t have another committee looking at the advisory committee, but the minister will have to report back, and those reports have to go to the minister. In addition, you can’t continue on that board. You can be dropped from the board if you are not focused and helpful to the work of the committee.
Mr. Oliphant: I’d like to add: I think the teeth in this bill are in the fifth clause. As Mr. Nicholson said, this requires that the minister, within two years of the passing of the bill, report to both Houses of Parliament, and then every year thereafter there’s a report. So this is fully rested in ministerial accountability.
The advisory board is that. It’s not there. I think the demand in this bill, which if I were the Health Minister I would take very seriously that she—or in the future, he, whoever it is—will have to report to the Senate and to the House of Commons on how this strategy is doing. That will give time for this committee to call the minister in once a year to update the committee in the Senate on your report and its effectiveness.
Things will change. Over a five- or seven-year period, things will be different, but it still rests in ministerial accountability and Canadians will be watching. I think that’s the teeth in this bill.
Senator Seidman: That’s helpful. I don’t want to belabour that, the aspect of structure, because an advisory board doesn’t provide sort of an umbrella structure that, for example, a steering committee would provide to guide the day-by-day functioning of all these very complicated, multidimensional associations and groups in provinces and territories that will be engaged in this. But I do want to leave that to the judgment of future oversight on this.
I did want to ask you one other question, if I might, about the list of subject matter that will be the preoccupation of a national strategy. One of them has to do with research, which, of course, we understand is extremely important. I don’t see mentioned here population data, monitoring, surveillance and data collection so that we better understand the distribution of the disease in our population and the various aspects that a strategy would be concerned with in terms of serving the public.
Do you see that as a feature that is going to be built in to this strategy?
Mr. Nicholson: We know, and from your own report as well, about the statistics and the estimates of how difficult this is going to be and how this is expected to double over the next number of years. The statistics, frankly, are quite alarming.
I’m assuming that with this coordination with the provinces that the federal health department will coordinate that activity and make that available so that we will be able to pull this information together and, presumably, this will be one of the areas that the advisory committee would look into because, obviously, we need to know what’s happening because this can be very helpful as well in terms of how we deal with this. The bill deals with everything from the care workers, the facilities and everything else, and so it’s vital that we know exactly when and where this is taking place and where it’s developing. Again, I think the tools are there.
Senator Raine: Thank you very much. It’s great to see our report come into legislation.
I have a question. I think it would probably be best answered by Ms. Tardif.
I’m always concerned when I see things that call for a national strategy, and I worry that it will take years and years to develop the strategy. Certainly in the testimony that we heard during our study, it was very obvious that there are a lot of people out there, a lot of organizations, that have years of experience, but they weren’t talking to each other properly.
I don’t think anybody wants to see another study for a strategy. I don’t think strategies should be inked in perpetuity. They should be living documents. How long do you think it will be before we have a national strategy?
Ms. Tardif: Bill C-233 does a fabulous job in setting up the basic infrastructure. We just talked about the advisory committee, and I would suspect that the pan-Canadian group that would be called together to manage it and move it forward would be able to fulfill that need. I think it’s safe to say that the minister would be accountable for this, as you mentioned. And we see a role for organizations such as ours and our colleagues in the research community and in the dementia community at that table. As to how that comes about, there is a variety of ways, but there is a clear vision of how it might be developed.
It is less about the strategy at this point, I think. We seem to have much clarity on what the strategy should be, but pulling together people in a pan-Canadian way, having an oversight group to do that and to bring the voice of people living with dementia, as well as experts at the table, is what gives life to the strategy. It is not the strategy itself but the actual implementation of it. That is why we look forward to participating in it.
Senator Raine: As a follow up, the conference that is to be held within 180 days is where that pan-Canadian group will gel?
Mr. Nicholson: Exactly.
Mr. Oliphant: The power of the federal government in this instance, especially with issues of health, which are largely devolved to the provinces for activity, is the power to convene and the push to collaborate.
We have best practices across this country in a variety of ways. There are great stories around the place. People aren’t speaking to each other enough. It is the power to convene and the push to collaborate. So, if you are not collaborating, it will be tough to get funds.
We are not starting from nothing, either. We have both the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, the CLSA, which is an important 20-, 30-, 40-year study of looking at this. This demands further funding for it. We have the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging with brilliant, world-class researchers already working. This convenes and collaborates. It pushes.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I want to come in on the last discussions. Obviously, in our best dreams of how it might have come forward, we might have wanted to have seen a great deal more structure in the legislation along the lines of the questions here. But, frankly, having been on the hill for a while now, I believe this is an excellent cap to our report.
With regard to the issues that have been raised, we have them identified quite well, as have the Alzheimer’s group and others. Our report has been a major part of their organization, and others, coming to the hill and trying to meet with the minister with regard to this particular issue. I can’t imagine that the substance in this report will be lost once this goes forward. In fact, it provides a tremendous document against which accountability can be based, in terms of the implementation and the work of the advisory group that you have identified in it.
Frankly, I am very hopeful that, together, we have managed to bring something forward that will, in fact, see movement in a fairly short period of time. The issue is gaining enormous importance in health care delivery across this country within each province and so on. It is a major topic and they have been looking for a national strategy to help deal with this and, as we know, there are 29 national strategies now in the world. There is no shortage of reference documents to do this. The Alzheimer Society of Canada itself has put forward a major document dealing with the overall strategy and structure of moving forward.
I want to thank you for being here today. The work you have done to bring this through the House of Commons is no mean achievement on its own. The fact that it comes forward in a completely nonpartisan sense is a great benefit to Canadians in this regard.
Before I call the next question, I want to acknowledge my colleagues on the committee who worked so hard on that report to bring it forward and to the gratification that we feel today in where we are at this particular point.
Is it agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Agreed.
I would like to invite our witnesses, on behalf of the committee, to stay with us through the discussion, to sit at the table during the consideration of clause-by-clause. You will not have a voice, but we would like to acknowledge all of your work in getting this to this point.
Senator Eggleton: It will only take a few minutes.
The Chair: I will proceed, then, to clause-by-clause. It was agreed that we do so.
Shall the title stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Agreed.
Shall the preamble stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall clause 1, which contains the short title, stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: That is agreed.
Shall clause 2 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: That is agreed.
Shall clause 3 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: That is agreed.
Shall clause 4 carry?
Senator Mégie: In clause 4, the French translation doesn’t match the other version. The Minister must appoint no more than 15 members “à titre amovible”. It’s strange for a term of not more than three years. The English version doesn’t say this. I just want to understand what this means, because we could find something to replace it.
The Chair: I believe this is the drafting tradition. With regard to that particular phrase, it is our understanding that is the legal convention with regard to “at pleasure” in terms of the drafting. We have seen that before. That is as far as I can go with regard to trying to convince you.
I want to thank the clerk for reminding me that this bill was drafted with legal counsel in the House of Commons. As usual, we will turn it back on them if there is anything at issue here.
I will repeat: Shall clause 4 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried.
Shall clause 5 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried.
Shall clause 1, which contains the short title, carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried
Shall the preamble carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried.
Shall the title carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried
Shall the bill carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried.
Does the committee wish to append observations to the report?
Hon. Senators: No.
The Chair: Thank you.
Is it agreed that I report the bill to the Senate?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: That is agreed.
This is a very important moment for Canadians. The next most important moment will be when it passes the Senate and goes to Royal Assent. I want to thank everyone here for their work in getting us to this point. Congratulations to Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Oliphant. I will congratulate Ms. Tardif, as well, for the work of the Alzheimer Society of Canada on this.
For this next part of the meeting, I am very pleased to welcome our colleague in a slightly different role — or chair, at least — on the committee this morning. We welcome the Honourable Senator Nancy Greene Raine. We are considering Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. It deals with prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children.
As usual, we will invite our witness, in this case the sponsor of the bill, to make a presentation, and then the floor will be open to questions from the committee.
Hon. Senator Nancy Greene Raine, sponsor of the bill: Thank you very much. Honourable senators, I am truly pleased to be with you today to begin the study of Bill S-228, which I introduced in September 2016 and which was passed at second reading on December 5.
The genesis of this bill came both from the study this committee did on the rising rates of obesity in Canada, as well as my attendance at a conference on childhood obesity in Ottawa in November 2015, where many stakeholders came together to articulate a common goal. The paper entitled The Ottawa Principles outlines what they agreed on.
I decided that Bill S-228 should be entitled the “child health protection act” as I am convinced that our children’s health is being undermined by the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages intentionally directed at children. This kind of targeted advertising, including all forms of commercial marketing of unhealthy food products, has greatly increased over the years for the simple reason that the experts who designed these marketing campaigns know full well that they work.
I have met with the Minister of Canadian Heritage who understands that advertising to children is a concern and who is collecting information on best practices with other jurisdictions because this is a problem that is recognized worldwide.
In our committee’s study on the rising rates of obesity, we heard testimony from witnesses who, with the exception of the food industry, unanimously supported strict controls on the advertising of unhealthy food and beverages to children. This testimony led the committee to recommend that the federal government design and implement a prohibition on the advertising of food and beverages to children, based on an assessment of Quebec’s prohibition of all advertising to children that has been in place since the 1980s. I am pleased to report that studies have found that Quebec has one of the lowest childhood obesity rates among 6 to 11 year-olds in Canada and one of the highest fruit and vegetable consumption rates.
Bill S-228 prohibits the marketing of all food and beverages to children in Canada. I remind you that the Food and Drugs Act already defines “food” to include beverages.
Since the legislation was introduced, I have followed developments regarding the marketing of food to children, as jurisdictions all over the world wrestle with the issue. In particular, I have come to understand that the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization have done a great deal of work over the past few years to define “unhealthy,” specifically with regard to the marketing of food and beverages to children.
Both organizations are recommending restricting the advertising of these products to children. Dr. Mary L’Abbé, Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, who leads a research group on food and nutrition policy for population health, has been invaluable in outlining how these agencies went about arriving at definitions that are now becoming best practices in countries that are tackling the issue.
I also realize that legislation that limits what is being prohibited to food defined as “unhealthy”—but that does allow the marketing of healthy food—would be more difficult to challenge in court by the food and beverage industry.
For this reason, I will propose to amend the legislation at clause-by-clause consideration of the bill to limit the prohibition on advertising to children to “unhealthy” food. This change would also be accompanied by an amendment to the preamble to acknowledge the existing evidence-based nutrient profiling models that will serve as a basis for classifying food or beverages as unhealthy.
I have met with the Minister of Health and her officials. The minister is supportive of the proposed amendments to limit the prohibition to “unhealthy” foods and has given me assurance that Health Canada will put in place a definition of “unhealthy” that takes into account the latest science and international models.
Bill S-228, as tabled last September, prohibits the marketing of food to children under 13 years of age. Since the bill was introduced, I have had further discussions with Dr. Tom Warshawski, Chairman of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, and others in the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition, who have informed me that new research confirms that the way adolescents process advertising is also problematic.
Marketing specialists today understand that adolescents can be targeted with messaging that plays on specific emotions.
Honourable senators, I’m sure that from our own experience most of us understand that during the teen years, a large number of adolescents reject guidance from their parents and are influenced strongly by their peers, who determine what is “cool.” When this age group is targeted by marketers, they are vulnerable to developing habits that are likely to last a lifetime. A predilection to choosing foods high in salt, sugar and fat as teenagers can result in poor food choices for the rest of their lives and it is recognized as one of the precursors to becoming overweight and obese, leading to all kinds of other chronic diseases.
A few weeks ago, Australian media obtained confidential emails which explained how Facebook can use its technology to identify moments when young people need a confidence boost and then tailor commercials towards them. By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and Internet activity in real time, an advertising-driven site can now determine when its users, some as young as 14, feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, useless or a failure. The Facebook algorithms are capable of target marketing to individual teenage users when they are most susceptible to a particular marketing message.
Honourable senators, I now believe that we need to include teenagers in the protection offered by Bill S-228. I will therefore propose an amendment at clause-by-clause consideration of the bill to change the definition of “children” up to age 16.
Finally, honourable senators, some clauses in the bill would be better dealt with in the regulations that will be developed by Health Canada following passage of the legislation. My original intent was to ensure that the bill would go beyond traditional advertising, including not only print, broadcast and by electronic means, including social media on the Internet. There are many, many ways to influence children to choose unhealthy food and beverages and we know that the tools used to develop marketing campaigns are not only very creative, but they use the latest technology to become more and more effective.
I have learned that amending the Food and Drugs Act, as proposed by Bill S-228, is a long and arduous process. I now realize that the legislation should include the general intent and framework, but that the details should be better left to be dealt with by regulations which can be more easily changed to react to new ways of marketing.
I know there are many stakeholder groups who will ensure that the regulations following Bill S-228 will live up to its intent and purpose.
Honourable senators, I ask that you listen carefully to the witnesses who will come before this committee to understand why I will be proposing these amendments to Bill S-228.
The goal of the bill, child health protection by prohibiting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, has not changed. The amendments will only make it better.
I would be pleased now to do my best to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Greene Raine. I will now open it up to questions from our colleagues, beginning with Senator Eggleton.
Senator Eggleton: Congratulations on this and welcome back.
Senator Raine: Thank you.
Senator Eggleton: Senator Seidman and I were prepared to sit at the end of the table today to make your presentation on your behalf, but we are pleased that you are here to do it yourself and to bring all the passion that you have on this issue. This is an issue that, of course, we addressed in our study on obesity and flows from one of the recommendations that was made, as you pointed out.
I want to ask you about the three areas of amendments you are talking about here. “Unhealthy” versus just food in general, because the Quebec legislation is advertising of anything. It certainly includes all foods, not just “unhealthy” foods. Moving to “unhealthy” raises the question of definitions. You pointed out that the WHO and others, including the ministry, are prepared to deal with it on that basis.
Are there any other countries where this has been put into effect where they have specifically dealt with “unhealthy” as opposed to all food products being advertised to children?
Senator Raine: There are a lot of countries out there right now wrestling with the issue. Two things come into play here. One is the issue of advertising to children period. Young children aren’t mature enough to decide what the message is. They don’t understand what advertising is. In fact, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a ruling with regard to Quebec’s legislation, ruled that marketing to children is, per se, manipulative. That doesn’t just include all food, it includes everything.
I’m dealing with amending the Food and Drugs Act, so I needed to pull that into food. In a perfect world, I would like to see it be expanded.
In the U.S. there is an organization called the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. They are doing leading-edge research on the harm being done by all advertising.
We have people in Canada doing work on this. There is a woman in British Columbia who presents workshops on the harm being done by advertising. She is particularly concerned, as it moves into the electronic media, where children are now being very much engrossed in imaging and messaging that is coming into their brains. We don’t know what it’s doing to them. This is a phenomenon that has come on to us quickly, this Internet-driven marketing advertising thing, and for children.
I was horrified to find out there are now little child seats that have props on them for the iPad. In July, Mattel is coming out with a virtual nanny, which is basically a monitor for the nursery that can listen to what the baby is doing, recognize their cries and talk back to them and comfort them. When I think of these things, I think this is a path that we are going down without making any proper analysis.
I need to think about this bill which came about from a study we did here in the Senate on the rising rates of obesity. We could see that obesity rates were rising through every age group. I became particularly concerned about what is it that is causing this, why is it happening and how can we stop it or slow it down?
The world moves forward. I recognize that. In hindsight, we didn’t analyze things properly when we took out physical education and home economics and put computers in schools. We need to do a lot more about physical education and increasing the physical capacity of our children. Some of them are really being short changed.
All of us can relate to our own personal experiences when your mother said, when you started getting rambunctious, “Get outside and play.” This isn’t happening anymore. When I looked at that side of it, which I am very familiar with, I thought about it again. But this is legislation about the Food and Drugs Act. The equation in terms of calories in and calories out works in both directions. My focus then became what can we do about decreasing the calories, especially the empty calories being consumed by young people and everyone. That is when I started to focus on the advertising of food and beverages to children, which I concluded is simply wrong.
The Chair: Thank you, senator. I let you go a little distance from the question. It’s not the time; it’s the distance from the question. From now on I may keep you a little closer to that.
Senator Eggleton: You’ve moved the age up to 16; 18 is considered the age of majority, by and large. What happened to the 17-year-olds, I guess is one question. What kind of a difference is that going to make between 13 and 16 or 17? How will it be discerned what comes into that category of advertising as a result of that change in the age? You’re talking about adolescents; I understand that. But what kind of advertising specifically is adolescent that isn’t children?
Senator Raine: Adolescence is normally the first time they have their own money to spend. There’s a fair amount of money being spent by teenagers on various things, so they are being targeted with all kinds of messaging: soft drink ads, fast-food ads. It’s not just the advertising on television. I would argue that many teenagers are watching general application — who knows what they’re watching on TV these days, but they’re going to see ads that are meant for adults.
The targeting can happen in other ways, like in sponsorship of sports programs. I’m from the sports world and I know that it’s difficult to raise enough money for kids to take part in sports. When you see things like “Wear your team jersey and come to our fast-food outlet and we’ll give you a free slushy,” that crosses the line.
There are a lot of ways that we need to rein this in. When you think about places where teenagers congregate — schools, recreation centres, all of those areas — we need to dial back the advertising of unhealthy food and beverages, because that’s where the kids are.
You asked about the age under 17. I went with that age because that was what came out of the conference on obesity in Ottawa. There were a lot of stakeholders there. There is no perfect age. Children mature at different ages, but 17 and under captures those first years where you create the habits.
Another thing I would like to mention is that some products that are being targeted to teenagers are, in my mind, very harmful, such as Red Bull and Rockstar. These are highly caffeinated soft drinks and adolescents like these products. It gives them courage; it gives them wings, but targeting them is really unhealthy.
Senator Frum: Senator Greene Raine, I want to begin by thanking you for being such a superb role model for Canadians of all ages, young and old, about the benefits of health and fitness and good eating habits. You worked so hard and have been so passionate on this issue. You are totally on the side of the angels; there’s no question about that.
As for the legislation, I want to ask you about amending subsection 7.4 because, for me, while I understand the virtuous intent of everything you’re trying to do, I wonder about the practicality or the possibility of it. Specifically on testimonials and endorsements, Bill S-228 states: “No person shall, directly or indirectly, promote a food by means of a testimonial or an endorsement . . . directed . . . at children,” and that includes “the depiction of a person, character or animal, whether real or fictional, . . .”
Instantly what comes to mind is that means we’re outlawing Ronald McDonald, and Snap, Crackle and Pop. They are giving testimonials or endorsements; they’re characters.
I’m wondering if you’ve given some thought in terms of the intellectual property rights or free speech rights that the corporations will claim on their ability to use those characters that they have clearly spent millions of dollars developing. What is the answer? Are you proposing, in effect, that cereals, which are unhealthy by definition, should all be in plain packaging? Is that what you’re proposing?
Senator Raine: The actual specifics of what needs to be developed will be done in regulations. There’s no doubt there will be negotiating back and forth on some of this, but there’s a difference between Ronald McDonald hanging out at McDonald’s and being there when mother or father brings the children in, and Ronald McDonald going to a school or a day care centre and handing out coupons.
There are some fine lines here. I recognize that it will not be easy and I recognize there are a lot of trademarks out there, but trademarks would likely be continued to be used in other ways and they can be used in targeting parents.
I had an email from somebody who said, “You’re going to do away with Tony the Tiger — and I remember him from childhood — and that’s terrible.”
I said to myself: You’re a living example of how powerful the emotional connection is with children when Tony the Tiger is remembered fondly when you’re aged 50. There’s no doubt that if you capture brand loyalty below a certain age, you’ve got a customer for life. But we’re opening up our children to this, and I don’t think it’s good for them. That’s what this bill is all about, trying to dial back that side.
Yes, you’ll still have trademarks out there. Yes, you’ll still have packaging, I’m sure. This will be decided in the development of regulations. There will still be characters on packaging, but it won’t be targeted. You won’t be perhaps putting those cartoon characters at eye level for a 3-year-old in the grocery stores.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you, senator, for your amendment on the age. I’ve had a lot of people talking about the age, so that’s good.
One of the things that I would like to hear about from you — a bit, not a lot — is on the balance you’ve tried to achieve that doesn’t destroy the advertising industry but protects the children. By going through this, I can see that you did try to achieve a balance and I wonder if you could elaborate a bit on that.
Senator Raine: I’m sure all of you are aware of my own history in terms of marketing, in terms of the commercials that I did for Mars Bars when I first retired as an athlete. I can tell you that somewhere along the line in my relationship with Mars — and I still have a very good relationship with that company today — I became more appreciative of the fact that — can I say this? — of all the candy on the market today, it is the most healthy.
The Chair: No, you can’t say that.
Senator Raine: I can’t say that. I take it back.
One of the things that we are not allowed to do in our country is advertise nutritional qualities of confectionery. Maybe we need to look at that, because there is a difference in quality when you’re dealing with advertising to children.
When I was an Olympic champion, the advertising was done for general consumption; it was not targeted to young children to ask their parents to buy this. That’s the difference in what we’re talking about.
I think I diverted from the question.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Just a tiny bit. I get it; I get what you’re saying.
The other short question, or perhaps observation, is this: I find that if people understand how ads actually work, they begin to be more discerning when they watch them. I was wondering if you had given some thought to perhaps including classes, educational pieces, on how ads come at everybody and especially children. I think that if parents understood that, it might make it easier. Thank you.
Senator Raine: I think what you’re talking about is a public health campaign about maybe how advertising works but, more importantly, what is nutritious, what is healthy.
I came to the conclusion a long time ago that if we had tax dollars being spent by the Public Health Agency of Canada for a marketing campaign to convince people to eat fruits and vegetables up against the budgets of industry, especially soft drinks, they’d have a lot more money than taxpayers could ever spend. We can’t outshout them. This legislation is attempting to say, “Let’s protect the children from that noise.”
Yes, we should also be educating children in schools all across the country as best we can. I would even support public health advertising in commercials for healthy food and how to eat healthy. That’s where we should be spending our public health promotion dollars, using media and campaigns that are as well developed as the commercial business marketing programs. But the children need to be protected.
Senator Petitclerc: It’s good to see you. Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done on this, and thank you for this amendment to age 16. To me it really makes sense. As a mother of a 3-and-a-half-year-old, I want him to stay away from advertising for as long as possible, so I’m happy with that.
I have a question that you touched on a bit. I spoke on your bill, as you may remember. I don’t know if you remember this, but the speech that Senator McCoy made stayed with me. She raised the concern about whether Bill S-228 is going to destroy small business. She used the example of Annie’s organic mac and cheese for kids, with the bunny on the packaging. It does target children on some level, yet it’s healthy — well, it’s mac and cheese, but it’s healthy-ish. I don’t know.
I did have my own opinion that maybe it will not hurt them; maybe it will actually help them because it will level the playing field. I wanted to hear your opinion on that.
Senator Raine: I do remember your speech very well, especially the green fish crackers.
Senator McCoy’s example of Annie’s made think a lot, and it made me realize that this legislation is not prohibiting marketing to parents; it’s marketing to children. I would argue that by putting a trademark character or cartoon on a package, maybe it makes it appealing to children once they’ve got it at home, but they’re not seeing that the media is focusing in on them and going to the parents and saying, “Mommy, buy me this product” because they’ve been targeted.
That’s the difference, when you target advertising to children to create in them a demand for a product that the parent doesn’t even know about. I’ve seen this in my own experience, where young children ask their parents for products that the parents have never heard of. Where did they hear about these products? They heard about it through the media that is targeting them. That’s the intent of the legislation.
I know there will be challenges for Health Canada in developing the regulations, but I also know there are many organizations in our country that are very concerned with the harm that is being done through the targeting of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. These organizations will have to step up, work hard and look at having the regulations in place to do the job.
Senator Petitclerc: If I may, I guess what I’m thinking — and I know it’s not the scope of the bill but maybe a positive side effect that could happen — we know the big international companies have so much money and that the smaller businesses, the health businesses or the fruit and vegetable businesses, are never able to compete. So maybe the side effect of your bill, by restricting mostly the big companies — they’re the ones with the big money — will be to level the playing field and have that positive side effect, wherein the smaller niche and health businesses will have more room.
Senator Raine: You’re quite right in that. If you look at farmers’ markets, for instance, how do they do their marketing? Not through television advertising and not on the Internet. They do it through word of mouth and through local advertising to let people know that the farmers’ market is happening. People go to the market to shop, so there’s not a lot of advertising done, but it’s happening.
I guess I’m more concerned about the big businesses. They’re the ones that have the funds for the technologically advanced marketing programs.
I would hope that it won’t impact small businesses the way people might be afraid it will. It could be a bit of a red herring if that is raised as an issue, but it will be something to watch, for sure.
It is interesting that when you think about what triggers a parent’s desire to purchase a product, for many parents, they use their own experience, their knowledge and their education. For others, they react to their children. For others, they might react just to the marketing itself, but it’s all part of education.
I don’t think we have an issue in terms of defending ourselves against unhealthy targeted marketing among people who are well-educated and aware of the dangers of salt-sugar-fat-laden foods. My concern is that in our society, a lot of people who aren’t as informed are sliding downwards in their purchasing decision-making instead of going upwards, and that is a concern, I’m sure, of the Public Health Agency of Canada as well.
Senator Cormier: Honourable colleagues, thank you for all your work. This bill is very important for the protection of children. When we read the bill, obviously we first see the impact on major companies.
I’ll continue along the same lines as Senator Petitclerc. Small businesses, but also small-scale designers and artists, work in the regions. You talked about chocolate earlier. I’m thinking of a specific example at home of a very creative artisan that develops products for children. Is chocolate healthy or unhealthy? I don’t know how we can define this, and whether this will be part of the definitions. I also have concerns when I think about the small artisans that add value to food. I don’t know whether the bill deals with this aspect. However, I think many issues will arise with regard to small businesses and artisans that make products for children that aren’t necessarily unhealthy. Have you considered this aspect, and is there additional information to provide?
Senator Raine: That’s a difficult area to think about — not to think about. Obviously you think about it. People who have small businesses that are selling unhealthy products, if we consider candy to be unhealthy, but it all depends on your calories in and calories out whether these things are healthy or not.
These businesses are fine. I don’t see any problem with them, as long as they don’t target children with their advertising. That’s the difference. They can be there. The parents can take them there. They can target the parents, bring your kids, come and eat my whatever it is, because it’s homemade and it’s the best, or whatever. Yes, they want the children to like their products and they will maybe hand out free samples, but I don’t think they’re directly targeting children the way some of these big multinational companies are.
Senator Cormier: Thank you for your clarification. I think the issue is quite complex. I’m thinking of certain products and product advertisements, and I’m wondering whether they target children or adults. With particularly creative and artisanal products, it’s sometimes difficult to make the distinction. It will be good to hear witnesses talk about this subject. Thank you, Mr. Chair and Senator Raine.
Senator Seidman: What can I say? My colleague and senator, I am extremely happy to see you with us today sitting there in front of us with your piece of legislation. I congratulate you and I know how hard you have worked on this project of yours, because that’s what it’s been for a long period of time, and how close it is to your heart. I’m sure we can all see that today as you’re presenting it to us.
I understand and empathize with your intent. I recognize the huge implementation challenges that lie ahead. As a result, I must tell you that I have preference for the simplicity of the Quebec legislation because it simply limits all commercial advertising to youth under the age of 13. As a result, we’re not left in this very challenging situation of trying to define unhealthy food, for one.
Then I think about the age issues, and we’ve discussed this. We move to 16 years of age, but now we have to draw a line. What’s the difference between advertising meant for a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old? How do you justify that? Companies will try to justify this is meant for 17 and 18-year-olds. How do you draw that line now to 16-year-olds? This is where I see a huge grey zone.
I understand 13-year-olds because there’s a distinct difference in how you approach 13-year-olds compared with how you might approach 17-year-olds. You can understand there’s a different level of sophistication.
Despite the fact that I understand and agree with your intention, how do you see this in its complexity coming to fruition?
Senator Raine: Thank you for the question. I really appreciate your concern, and it’s my concern as well. There is no easy way to define the difference between advertising targeted to a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old, but I would say that this legislation will make it more difficult for schools, for instance, to allow promotion of products in their schools because their schools go up to age 18. The 17 and 18-year-olds will have to miss out on having all the coke machines around the schools. With those kinds of things, I see there is a blurring of the line.
Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do it. I’ve become convinced that industry wants a level playing field. There are many people in industry who really appreciate that there are limits to what they should be doing in terms of targeting their advertising. But when other businesses do it, they do it as well. So we need to have a line in the sand.
I went with the Ottawa Principles because that was thoroughly discussed by all kinds of people who understand the need for these age limits. The more I read about them, the more I realized that it’s never going to be perfect, and there’s no doubt that even 6-year-olds are going to see advertising targeted to children or targeted to adults, but we have to try our best. That was part of your question. I think you had another part.
Senator Seidman: It’s very similar. You’re answering both aspects, because it’s the two amendments that you’re making changes to unhealthy food. We have to define “unhealthy food.”
Senator Raine: You had asked whether it would be simpler to just ban the advertising to children, period? I would say in an ideal world we should do that. But the Quebec law is done through the Consumer Protection Act in Quebec, and they have an ability to have a global prohibition. The Food and Drugs Act in Canada is very powerful. It has the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It has the ability to give severe penalties and becomes a real force in actually making the prohibition really tough, where at the provincial level in consumer protection laws, they don’t have as much strength.
I know the people in Quebec are very happy that this legislation will reinforce the legislation in Quebec. Quebec’s legislation doesn’t cover all kinds of marketing and this is designed to do that through the regulations.
The need for the unhealthy food and beverages is really driven by the understanding now, and I must say that I was told that quite early in the process and didn’t listen properly, but I now understand that if you do not have “unhealthy”as part of what is being prohibited, and you just have all food and beverage, that it would be susceptible to a challenge in the courts, and none of us want to see that happen.
The Chair: Senator, I’d like to come to the question of copyright, which will come up probably more than once during this. I’d like to get your understanding of what copyright actually does. I’ll pose two questions on it.
First of all, does copyright give unlimited or unfettered right to the use in any context of the item that is copyrighted, or is it intended to protect the copyright owner against anyone else using that copyright for their own use? Let me simply ask you your response to those two.
Senator Raine: The copyright laws are not my area of expertise, by any means, but I understand the protection given by a trademark or copyright gives you the protection against other people using those trademarks.
The Chair: That’s correct.
Senator Raine: I also understand that a country can limit, through their laws, how those rights are used for the purpose of marketing. We’ve certainly seen that be put in place through the tobacco laws. We’re going to have to really look at that with regard to the cannabis legislation that’s coming before us eventually. In tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals, we have broad laws against marketing to all Canadians, and some laws are age-related. I would say that trademarks would likely be used in other ways, in other venues, so they would be able to keep their trademark.
The Chair: You’ve answered the question that I put to you. Your first answer was absolutely perfect, so let’s not go down that road any further.
Senator Raine: Thank you.
The Chair: Senator, you’ve put me in a difficult position with regard to your comment about a particular product endorsement around which you have a clear conflict of interest, and you had the statement out before I could have in any way cancelled the issue. I’d like to make it clear that in no way is this committee endorsing the comment you made with regard to that product and that we would urge all consumers to look at the product’s description and its contents and make their own decision with regard to the conclusion that you put on the table.
I’m going to leave it at that, because our Senate committee has to be absolutely free from any kind of situation of that nature.
With that, I think that we have completed our questioning at this point.
Senator Eggleton: I have one more.
The Chair: Sorry, Senator Eggleton.
Senator Eggleton: Regarding the amendments that you talked about, going to unhealthy food and the age 16 change, you also mentioned regulations and that more could be dealt with by regulations.
I got the impression that you will move some amendments to some of the legislation that would move it into the realm of something for consideration of regulations, but you didn’t suggest anything specific. Are you not at the point of any particular recommendations that you are proposing? Are you still working on that?
Senator Raine: No, I have pretty much worked on them, but they are technical in nature.
In my bill I mention very specific forms of marketing and advertising. That would go into the regulations rather than be in the bill. The reason for that, as I mentioned before, is that, as ways of marketing changes, the regulations can be changed much more easily than they can through the legislation.
Senator Eggleton: No, I understand that, but you would have to move that some of these specifics in the bill be moved out of the bill and into regulations. I think you were responding somewhat to Senator Frum’s question in that connection, with respect to the different characters and animals that are used to advertise things. That might move out of the bill and into a regulatory suggestion, or are you still working on that?
Senator Raine: I have worked on them, but I was informed that the amendments should be presented at clause-by-clause consideration rather than at the committee. I would be very happy to circulate those amendments to the committee in advance, whenever the chair asks me to do so.
The Chair: I have already asked the clerk to contact you in this regard.
Senator, we are very pleased to see you here and we are looking forward to the progress of this. It is, as you well know, a difficult issue. That is why it has taken so long for it to come back to us in terms of a final bill. Hopefully, we will be able to do this. We are sorry that you will not be with us for all of the meetings on this, but we are absolutely delighted that you are able to be here with us today.