The defeat of Bill C-460 – Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada

ee-sodiumThere is bad news to report:  On May 8th, Canada’s Members of Parliament defeated a bill  that would have had a major impact in promoting the health of Canadians.

Bill C-460 – Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada  incorporated the recommendations of Health Canada’s own expert committee on methods to reduce the sodium intakes of Canadians.

The vote was 122 in favour and 147 against.

According the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), if the bill had passed, it would have helped to save $3 billion for both our healthcare system and losses in productivity.  It may have also prevented more than 9,000 deaths annually.

Instead, our government chose to protect the food industry rather than the health of Canadians.

As I have said before, it may be time to rename Health Canada, Corporate Health Canada as the government seems more intent  on maintaining the status quo of sodium-laden foods – so many of which are significantly higher than the same name products in other parts of the world.

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.”

You can see how your MP voted here.    Only one Conservative MP supported the bill. Traditionally when voting on Private Members bills, as Bill C-460 was, MPs can vote independently but this was not the case this time.

So the questions must be asked:  when polls showed that 80 per cent of Canadians support regulations to reduce the sodium in our foods and  60 experts and community leaders who representing millions of Canadians as members signed a joint statement in support of  the bill,  why did these MPs not vote on behalf of their constituents?

It’s a question each of us should ask our MPs. Here’s the link to find your MP’s email address. And let them know that it’s not over.

CSPI points out that this was one of the largest constituencies to support a health (or any) bill in recent Canadian history.

The defeat of this bill brings home the fear that many had when a Conservative majority government was elected: would the government act on behalf of Canadians or would they simply have  their own agenda?

Well, the answer seems pretty clear, wouldn’t you say?
l

What are your thoughts on the defeat of this bill? Please share  in the comment section.
l

Another post you might like:

ee-sodiumTim Hortons’ sodium minefield and Health Canada inaction

When it comes to the villains of the fast food world, read more

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Categories: Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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4 Comments on “The defeat of Bill C-460 – Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada”

  1. Alan York
    May 14, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    I suggest that we all vote with our feet and walk directly to the fresh fruits, vegetables, fish poultry, meats, dairy, etc. No one is twisting our arms to buy the over processed salty packaged pretend foods.

    • May 14, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      I agree, Alan. The best choices are indeed fresh foods. Sticking to the outside aisles of the supermarket can yield significant savings in sodium counts. But there are foods, such as cold bran cereals, which should fit more easily into a sodium-smart diet and simply don’t because of their high sodium content in Canada. And when consumers do buy any processed foods, there’s no reason for them to be punished with excessively high sodium counts when they don’t have to be.

  2. Normand Belanger
    May 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Alan who do you think will pay for the triple by-pass you uncle or nephew will have , yes you and I make the right choice but others dont and WE all pay the bill at the end so look further then the tip of your nose and look at your tax at the end of the year .

    • May 26, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Norman. We are indeed all paying for each others’ choices. As CSPI states, it’s to the tune of $3 billion in healthcare costs and productivity. Regulations limiting the sodium in our food would save us all money and prevent a great deal of both illness and deaths.

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