Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the federal government has reached millions of young Canadians through various, intensive public education campaigns aimed at informing them about the health and safety risks of using cannabis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Federal campaigns have educated millions of youths about dangers of pot: minister

Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the federal government has reached millions of young Canadians

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the federal government has reached millions of young Canadians through various, intensive public education campaigns aimed at informing them about the health and safety risks of using cannabis.

The lack of a visible, national public awareness campaign is among the top concerns of senators who are currently studying the bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

But if senators haven’t seen the campaigns, Petitpas Taylor says that’s because they’re not aimed at people in their age group; they’re aimed at youths who are considered the most vulnerable to the potential adverse health impacts of cannabis use.

And that means the campaigns are showing up on social media platforms and web banners, not primarily on television or radio.

Related: Medical pot grower says politicians’ fears unfounded

Petitpas Taylor says one program, started last year and targeting 13- to 24-year-olds, has reached 7.9 million young people through social media, and web banners have been seen 47 million times.

Moreover, she says a public safety campaign to discourage drug-impaired driving, targeting youths through Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Youtube, Chatbox and other social media platforms, has been seen 64 million times.

As well, signs warning against driving high have also been placed in 210 cinemas across the country.

“We’re going to great lengths to ensure that accurate information is being delivered to young people,” Petitpas Taylor told the Senate’s social affairs committee Wednesday.

In addition to targeting youths, she said Health Canada has been conducting an education campaign targeting parents, running ads on social media, television and radio. And the department has partnered with Drug Free Kids Canada to distribute more than 180,000 “Cannabis Talk” kits to help parents discuss the issue with their children.

“I am confident that our comprehensive public awareness campaign will increase Canadians’ understanding of the facts on cannabis and will ultimately protect their health and safety.”

Related: Marijuana legalization passes in House of Commons

But not all senators seemed reassured.

“Nowhere have I seen evidence of how this particular age group, 18-25, will be protected and kept well-informed,” commented independent Sen. Chantal Petitclerc at one point.

Conservative Sen. Nancy Greene Raine said by legalizing marijuana, the government is sending “a very strong message to young people that it’s OK.”

And fellow Conservative Sen. Vern White questioned how the government can say it’s trying to discourage cannabis use among young people when the bill would allow their parents to grow up to four plants in their home, where it would be easily accessible to kids.

However, Petitpas Taylor argued that Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are already “among the highest users of cannabis in the world.” The objective of legalization is to regulate it and make it harder for young people to get their hands on it.

Liberal MP Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who is the Liberal government’s point man on cannabis legalization, told the committee that educating parents who intend to grow their own pot will also be important.

“Frankly, any parent has a responsibility to protect their children from anything, from the medicine cabinet, from anything that can cause them harm,” he said, noting that the main source of alcohol for underage kids is “swiping it out of their father’s liquor cabinet.”

Related: B.C. Conservatives demand pot rules

Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saanich man, passenger escape injury in Mt Arrowsmith rollover

A visitor from the South Island escaped injury after rolling his SUV… Continue reading

Port Alberni residents, city council divided on rules for cannabis stores

Public speaks up about pot at committee of the whole meeting

Port Alberni RCMP officers honoured for bravery

Five faced ‘violent, deranged’ male during break-in

Alberni Valley Bulldogs battle against top teams in the BCHL

Bulldogs split weekend games against Spruce Kings, Chiefs

Husky robbery suspect caught

A man suspected of robbing the Husky gas station and convenience store… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

Most Read