Monday, July 23, 2012

Canada's Health Minister Fails Canadians Yet Again

But first let's take a trip through time and tell a tale of two cities.

The year was 2006.

Here in Ottawa a federally appointed "Trans-Fat Task Force" was exploring the issues of trans-fats and considering what if anything the government ought to do about them.

Head south a few hundred miles and over in NYC they'd already made their trans-fat decision, and they announced plans to ban trans-fat with a series of phased in regulations set to begin in 2007.

Flash forward to 2007 and Canada's Trans-Fat Task Force recommended taking an approach similar to that of NYC, however our then Minister of Health Tony Clement decided to give the food industry a free-pass and a trial of self imposed trans-fat reductions, but with the promise of regulations in 2 years should reductions fail.

Moving to 2009 and with NYC's trans-fat ban fully phased in, here in Ottawa our current Minister of Health Leonna Aglukkaq formally reneged on her predecessor Tony Clement's promise and took trans-fat regulation off the table, this despite the fact that according to Postmedia reporter Sarah Schmidt, Health Canada's own cost-benefit analysis reported a trans-fat ban would provide a net benefit to Canadian society of $9 billion over 20 years, and despite the head of Health Canada's trans-fat task force labeling trans-fat,
"a toxic killer that needs to be removed from the food supply as soon as possible."
Further fast forward to April 22nd, 2010 and Ottawa saw the briefest glimmer of hope for trans-fat regulation in that Leonna Aglukkaq herself admitted the voluntary approach to trans-fat reduction had failed stating of trans-fat surveillance,
"The results indicate that further reductions are needed to fully meet the public health objectives and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
Now flash forward to last week when two things occurred. NYC saw the publication of a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that reported on the incredible success seen in trans-fat reduction consequent to their ban. And what did we see in Ottawa?

In Ottawa we saw Leonna Aglukkaq continue her reign as the worst Minister of Health this country has ever seen in that rather than announce Canadians have been subjected to enough trans-fat and that regulation was to be phased in, instead she reported that she's terminated the trans-fat monitoring program, this despite Health Canada's own advisory panel calling for renewed surveillance to bolster the case for regulation.

Ms Aglukkaq, how do you sleep at night?