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Senate Steamrolling Bill That Will Download Costs Onto Parents

  • Legislation that would ban advertising to those under age 17 will download cost of many kids’ team sports, events and camps on parents and taxpayers
  • Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) not welcome at Committee Hearing

Toronto, June 14, 2017: Advertisers have been denied the opportunity to brief Senators on their concerns with the draconian provisions of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children).

The Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee (SOCI) has refused to meet face-to-face with the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) to address the Bill’s shortcomings and costs that will be downloaded on parents and taxpayers, despite two appeals to appear.

“Advertisers want to work with legislators to devise a reasoned and responsible strategy to address the complex issue of obesity,” said Ron Lund, President and CEO, ACA.

The Bill sponsored by Senator Nancy Greene Raine would ban food and beverage ads online and on virtually every TV program broadcast in Canada, but not those emanating from the U.S., Lund said.

The SOCI Committee is moving forward with legislation that will prohibit corporate sponsorship for many iconic and beneficial events and activities for kids, despite scant evidence that banning advertising is an effective means to address obesity.

In fact, Québec’s 37-year-old ban on children’s advertising, touted as a model by the committee, has not had an impact on obesity rates when compared with the rest of Canada, Lund said.

Québec’s own Ministry of Health and Social Services website states that, despite the restrictions, ‘the proportion of obese children in Québec is not significantly different from that in the rest of Canada.’ Further, Statistics Canada data shows the childhood obesity rate is the same in Quebec as in B.C., where there is no ban.

“Victims of the legislation will include the very people it seeks to protect,” Lund said. “Events and activities such as annual Santa Claus Parades, McHappy Day for Ronald McDonald House and other children’s charities, Timbits minor hockey and soccer programs, which annually supports sports-activities for more than 300,000 children country-wide, will all be put in jeopardy and/or cease to exist.”

Lund also questioned Senator Greene Raine’s stated intent to raise the age threshold for the Bill to under 17. By that age, young adults can hunt with firearms (age 12), fly a plane solo (14), or watch programs such as Criminal Minds, which depicts gruesome physical and psychological violence – which is one of the most-watched shows among children ages 2-11.

“I find this particularly ironic when the government is promising to legalize marijuana for those 18 and over,” Lund said. “Essentially, they’re saying that between 17 and 18, a person’s maturity level grows from not being able to withstand food marketing to choosing marijuana products a year later.”

Bill S-228 will also result in the closure of many corporate marketing departments across Canada, meaning less work for advertising agencies, design and production houses and Canadian actors and technicians, as well as less revenue for an already-suffering Canadian media industry.

Lund says he is disappointed by the Senate Committee’s approach to steamroll this legislation forward, influenced by the NGO community and their agenda-based research. This runs contrary to Prime Minister Trudeau’s stated commitment to evidence-based decision-making.

“I hope the Government devises new plans to meaningfully address childhood obesity without inflicting the collateral damage inherent to the current proposal,” Lund said. “A holistic strategy is required and we hope that marketers will be given the opportunity to work collaboratively with health officials.”

 
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