Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Subject: Bill S-228: An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), a.k.a. Child Health Protection Act
Dear fairs, exhibitions and agricultural societies, Over the past several months, the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE) has been pursuing conversations with the Federal Government in regards to the above-noted Bill (the full text of the Bill is available here: https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/9118296). The purpose of this Bill is to regulate advertising towards children as it relates to any unhealthy foods as defined by Health Canada. Regulations may come into effect as early as 2019. CAFE fully supports engaging in healthy practices and encouraging healthy lifestyles for children, however the vague language of the Bill raises concern for our events in two ways:
1. Many local fairs and events rely heavily on the support from local businesses, sponsors, and corporations to sustain their community-building activities. Bill S-228 may impact upon their industries and their support of our events. Without the support of the private sector partners who also support other events, like sports events (i.e. Tim Horton’s hockey sponsorship) that are exempted under Bill S-228, these events may suffer from significant revenue loss.
Examples of sponsorships that may be lost include: support from your Local Tim Horton’s, sponsorship from Coca Cola or Pepsi, program funding from McDonalds, to name a few.
2. Furthermore, there are hundreds of small businesses in the form of vendors, food trucks and concessionaires at our events who will likely have difficulty abiding by the law within the timeframe and within their own budgets. The atmosphere of the fair is a colourful, joyous event, and we are concerned that our vendors will be relegated to painting their trucks white, thereby losing sales themselves, and negatively impacting the fair’s income and ambiance.
As a result, CAFE has, and will continue to be taking several steps to seek an amendment in the Bill or a commitment from Health Canada that our events will be exempt in the regulations.
CAFE’s Key Messages
The majority of our events have been around for decades and therefore hold deep cultural roots and traditions within their communities. Generations of families have been involved as volunteers, participants or visitors. 90%+ of visitors to fairs agree they are a major social gathering for the community, they are important to Canadian tradition and the events enhance the quality of life for people living in the region. Likewise, our events are key opportunities to involve all ages in civic engagement, whether it is volunteering for the event or for an organization attending the event, event the smallest fairs and exhibitions easily see 150-300 volunteers engaged each year.
Often, it is the one event of the year that not only brings together the entire community but is a driving force for economic stimulation, averaging an economic impact of $17.2 million on the local economy per fair. Small fairs alone average $750,000, which in a small town represents a huge boon for business.
These events are family friendly, offering entertainment and activities for all ages. In fact, the demographics are balances up to the age of 59, and children aged 10-13 represent less than 26 per cent of the total audience.
The strength of our events comes from their rich backgrounds, which are complemented with modern innovations, education and entertainment. Our events have been at the forefront of technological innovation and educational exchange for decades, having in the past been the only place where this information could be sought. Today, while individuals can find information elsewhere, it has not prevented our events from offering top-notch educational opportunities, particularly in relation to technology, agriculture and healthy living. More than 50 per cent of individuals say the educational component of our events enhances their visits and the top educational reasons for visiting fairs include: healthy eating, food safety, cooking and food preparation and agriculture and farming.
CAFE would be glad to work with the Federal Government to complement Bill S-228 by developing and offering educational modules on healthy eating at our events, something many have already been doing independently for years.
Finally, we are one of the few events that offers real, authentic experiences that still see children get outside and do something, whether it’s riding the midway, visiting animals or playing games, to name a few.
This letter is to inform you of the current situation, so that you may also in turn inform your boards and other relevant stakeholders.
Whether you are a fair, exhibition, rodeo, agricultural society, other event, service member or provincial association, we are now seeking your assistance as we launch a letter-writing campaign. We would like to encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament (MP) directly with a letter and/or a phone call expressing your concern in regards to this bill. The effect this Bill will have on our events has not been considered and this is a great way to build the conversation. In contacting your MP directly, you will make a connection with them as a constituent but also will be able to speak to your event specifically and how this bill may affect you.
We have some simple steps to follow: 1. If you are unsure who your local MP is, visit http://www.ourcommons.ca/parliamentarians/en/constituencies/FindMP to find your MP. 2. For your convenience, we have attached a sample letter you may use. Please adjust it and send it to your MP. If possible, please try to copy email@example.com so we may track the responses. 3. Follow up a few days later with your MP on the telephone to discuss his/her thoughts and possible actions.
If you require any assistance, CAFE is here to help at 1-800-663-1714 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CAFE is here to represent our best interests and so we encourage you to continue your engagement with us. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Christina Franc Executive Director, CAFE