Bill to restrict junk food marketing to kids may be falling victim to industry bullying

Final Senate vote for Bill S-228 is being intentionally delayed, putting business before children’s health

Ottawa – The fate of Bill S-228, which will restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to kids, is being deliberately stalled in the Senate due to misinformation and pressure from industry and other groups. 

"I am very concerned that some Senators may have been influenced on this very important legislation. Industry has been lobbying hard to try to kill the bill and it is obviously being successful. This is exactly why we need legislation to replace the voluntary industry measures currently in place – it is time to put our kids’ health before profits,” says retired Senator Nancy Greene Raine who first introduced the bill in the Senate.

The bill has made its way through the legislative process, originating in the Senate in September 2016 then going through the House of Commons where it was amended and passed, before being sent back to the Senate where it has been awaiting final vote since September 2018.

Addressing the Senate last Thursday, Senator Terry Mercer requested the bill be subjected to further study based on “concerns from industry.” The concerns outlined include, among other things, that the bill will impact kids’ community sports programs. However, this is not true.

“This bill is based on evidence and it is about protecting children from unhealthy food and beverage marketing. It will not affect what people can buy nor what can be advertised to adults,” says Yves Savoie, CEO, Heart & Stroke. “And the government has been clear that kids’ community sports sponsorships will be exempted.”

If the Senate votes to send the bill back to committee this week, legislation cannot be passed before the next federal election – so effectively killing it.

"History celebrates people who take action, who stand up and do something brave. Of course there will be resistance from parts of industry, but that's because change is harder than staying the same,” says chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver.

According to the Canadian lobbyist registry, 79 industry representatives have lobbied around Bill S-228 and 233 industry meetings with government officials have been documented. 

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Stephanie Lawrence
Senior Manager, Communications, Heart & Stroke 
613.691.4022 or 613.290.4236