I was extremely disappointed and bewildered that this Bill was defeated in Federal Parliament…..
TORONTO (May 8, 2013)—Tonight, MPs narrowly defeated a bill designed to implement the Minister of Health’s own unanimous, expert Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada.
If passed, the bill would have helped save $3 billion in healthcare and productivity losses and prevent more than 9,000 deaths annually attributed to high blood pressure stoked by salt added to the food supply by restaurants and food manufacturers. Bill C-460 was introduced last November by Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition, Libby Davies. Bill Jeffery, National Coordinator of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest made the following comment on the vote:
If the food supply stays as salty as it is, food companies will help fill doctor’s offices, operating rooms, pharmacies and other confined spaces and drain provincial treasuries to keep them there.
Parliament missed an opportunity to make food companies more accountable to their customers. Most food is too salty and, without key regulatory fixes, food labels often just muddy the waters. Worse, chain restaurants bury nutrition information where they know almost no one will use it. Tonight’s vote failed because of opposition from Conservative MPs. Had eight Conservative MPs stayed in the room to support Bill C-460 after joining a whipped vote immediately preceding it, the finish might have been more dramatic. I guess the Prime Minister prevailed in the “caucus revolt.”
Public opinion polls consistently show that Canadians want the kind of labelling and accountability measures proposed in Bill C-460. A joint-statement in support of Bill C-460 was signed by 60 experts and community leaders who count millions of Canadians as members. This is one of the largest constituencies to support a health (or any) bill in recent Canadian history. They deserve considerable credit and better treatment by some MPs.
Whether the bill’s opponents buckled under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office or the food industry remains to be seen, but they sure weren’t rooting for their constituents tonight, 80% of whom said they supported the kinds of measures proposed in the bill and not the do-nothing approach the federal government promotes.
For information: Bill Jeffery, National Coordinator of CSPI will be travelling in the Toronto area on Friday May 8, 2013 where he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by text/phone at 613-565-2140. Or visit http://www.cspinet.ca or see the reports and joint-statement at www.sodiumreduction.ca The official results of the vote will be posted at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&billId=5806485
Bill Jeffery, LLB, National Coordinator
Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
Suite 2701, CTTC Bldg.
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5R1 Canada
Tel: 613-244-7337 (ext. 1)
CSPI is an independent health advocacy organization with offices in Ottawa and Washington. CSPI’s advocacy efforts are supported by more than 100,000 subscribers to the Canadian edition of its Nutrition Action Healthletter, on average, one subscribing household within a one block radius of every Canadian street corner. CSPI does not accept industry or government funding and Nutrition Action does not carry advertisements.