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Results: 1 - 7 of 7
View David Wilks Profile
Thanks, Chair.
I just have a couple of questions both related to the same topic, one for Health Canada officials and then one to CIHR. They both are with regard to electronic cigarettes. As you know, this committee carried out a study of electronic cigarettes and made a number of recommendations on which the minister is moving forward, including that the Government of Canada establish a new legislative framework for regulating electronic cigarettes and related devices.
Has any of the $26.5 million in planned spending for the tobacco program been identified for developing a legislative framework toward this initiative?
View James Lunney Profile
Ind. (BC)
In terms of re-normalization, we know there's a whole psychological and neurological phenomena associated with smoking. It's timing—after eating—and it's the mechanics of what to do with your hands and so on. For many smokers, the great successes we've made have been because of the restrictions we've brought in on where you can smoke, on smoke-free areas and so on. It's like a get-out-of-jail-free card with regard to the social stigma for many smokers who might be on the verge of quitting or who are now having a great opportunity to switch, when they have trouble smoking, to a "vaping" program. Is that not going to help them perpetuate their problem rather than break the habit they might be on the verge of quitting?
View Cathy McLeod Profile
That's great.
Overall, what will be the impact on how many Canadians a year will die from smoking or cancer caused by smoking?
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'm going to ask my questions, but because I have only seven minutes I want to get very succinct answers, if I can, please.
I'm going to start by asking about some of the cuts in the budget and why they were done and how the Department of Health is going to be able to cope, given some of the cuts. For instance, we see that the whole health portfolio since 2012 has had $200.6 million cut from it, so its ability to do the work it has to do is very compromised. My question, then, is not just about that but about, for instance, health promotion and disease prevention.
We have seen the tobacco strategy eliminated, and we have seen cuts to substance abuse and addiction funding, etc.—cuts of 35% in tobacco alone. Given that six million Canadians still smoke, how is this going to decrease the burden on the health care system for cardiovascular disease, lung disease, etc., which is going to obviously cost the system at the other end?
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I want to thank the minister for coming to answer questions today, and to discuss the supplementary estimates.
I want to go straight to something that my colleague, Libby Davies, from the NDP talked about. I see that one of the major points made by the minister is that maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy diet, as well as doing regular exercise, will ensure the numbers of health-related issues in this country, including chronic diseases, go down.
The minister then went on to discuss the importance to the health care system of decreasing chronic disease and managing chronic disease well. The minister also spoke about signing a health promotion and disease prevention initiative and focusing on that.
I know, as the minister said, that there are more than 10 ways to skin a cat. But the only really important way to skin the cat is the one in which evidence has proven is the most effective way to skin the cat. We know that the most effective way to get healthy weights in this country and to bring down chronic diseases, such as diabetes caused by obesity, chronic heart disease, is to look at three very important issues: salt, trans fats, and sugar.
The minister absolutely has in her power the ability to mandate those amounts. Her own department has told her so. Advisory committees have told her so. All of the health care providers she's met with have told her so.
I'd like to know why the minister doesn't follow evidence-based decision-making in her department. It would seem to me that all of this is just a lot of talk, which we have been hearing since 2006, and nothing has been done to deal with this most significant issue.
I would like to know why the minister has in her power the ability to do this and has done absolutely nothing about it.
There is a second thing I want to ask the minister. She talks about money being spent on HIV/AIDS for a vaccine. This is good. This is very good. But is the minister aware of the fact that in British Columbia there is a proven, again evidence-based, drug that will not only treat the patient who has HIV, but by the second dose will bring down the viral load so completely that HIV will be prevented from then on. If I could not think of a better way to look at something in place of a vaccine while we're waiting for a vaccine, that's the way to do it.
I would hope that the minister would work with provinces to talk about a way of ensuring that this is part of a major HIV/AIDS strategy. It's called the HAART program. British Columbia is spending $18 million a year to treat every single person who is HIV-positive. This is a smart, evidence-based way of doing things.
So that's the second thing I want to ask the minister about.
There is a third thing I want to ask the minister. She talks very much about the crown and first nations model of health governance. Since the money for the aboriginal healing fund was transferred from the aboriginal communities into Health Canada, can the minister give me an update on how that aboriginal healing fund has progressed within Health Canada? How much of that has gone to actual aboriginal communities to work on healing, to make a difference?
In fact, INAC originally told us it was so effective they hoped this fund would continue within aboriginal communities. Health Canada should give evidence to me about the outcomes that are better than the aboriginal healing fund outcomes.
Finally, on personal health, the minister talked about a genetic profile and that you cannot pick different things to solve a problem. Well, does the minister believe that genetic profiles are the only things that cause disease? What about poverty and unemployment? What about the environment? What about smoking? What about obesity? What about alcohol? Those are things that also create disease, not merely your genetic profile.
If the minister has that kind of money to spend, I would like to know why the minister isn't dealing with bringing down chronic diseases.
View Libby Davies Profile
Thank you very much, Chairperson.
First of all, thank you to the witnesses for coming today. I know it was in a bit of a hurry. This is our first meeting, and in fact a number of us are very new on this committee.
We're getting to know all the issues, but in terms of what's before us today in the proposed three sets of regulations and hearing the testimony and reading the material, it's very clear that this is something that has been ongoing. The fact that these regulations were gazetted back in February is a clear indication that things were afoot and that these proposals were being outlined and put forward in a formal process, so frankly I'm a bit surprised to hear representation today that we need more time to study this or deal with this or respond to how we address the labelling and so on. It seems to me that it has been very obvious that this was on its way in. In fact, I think we have an opportunity here to keep to the deadline and timeline that were established, and I think that if we delayed this process today, it would be very unfortunate. That's certainly not anything we want to do.
I would like to ask Mr. Haslam to respond. There has been a clear indication all along that this was going to happen. That's one question.
Second, to Mr. Cunningham from the Canadian Cancer Society, I was particularly interested in what you said about youth addiction. I think it would be very interesting for you to spell out what it will mean in real terms if we don't go ahead with these measures that are aimed to prevent addiction and save lives, particularly among young people.
I don't know the statistics for smoking among young people, but I know that it has been rising. That's a particular concern all of us should have for the younger generation.
Could you outline a little more on what it means if we don't go ahead with these regulations? What are we actually saying to young people in terms of their health and their ability to be productive members of society in good health?
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I think Mr. Proulx ended where I want to start. The objective eventually is to ensure that jobs in the tobacco industry will decrease over time. When you think that 35,000 to 37,000 people a year die from using this particular drug, nicotine, and from using all of the byproducts that come in a cigarette, we don't want this to be a burgeoning industry at all. We don't want it to grow and we don't want people to smoke. That's the bottom line here.
The issue I wanted to ask about is the big question we heard from Mr. Haslam. It was about how long it would take him to do this and his assertion that he wouldn't be able to do it in this period of time. You said that technical changes such as the colour processing were made to facilitate implementation and printing of packages by manufacturers, so obviously you gave thought to the ability to implement in this timeline. I still do not accept that the industry cannot meet this deadline. If it had to outsource it, I think it would be worth outsourcing four to eight jobs to get other companies in Brazil that have done this before to do it. As I said before, you and I agree that this is an industry we want to see end.
This is something that you probably don't want to answer, but as you know, Australia has plain packaging. When I was at the Canadian Medical Association, many of us were looking at the issue of plain packaging as one of the recommendations. Has anyone given any thought to plain packaging?
I know that the Canadian Medical Association has been looking at this for a long time and has recommended it to health committees in the past. Have you given any thought to plain packaging?
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