Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
A provision in Alberta's Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act requires the Minister to commence a review of the Act within five years after the section comes into force. The Canadian Cancer Society recommended that Bill 41 be amended to require a review of the legislation at least every five years to ensure regular updates and to sustain the effectiveness of initiatives for reducing the harm caused by tobacco.
While the proliferation of vaping products and the high rates of tobacco use and vaping in the NWT are a cause for significant concern, committee believes that requiring periodic reviews of this legislation would unnecessarily tie the hands of future legislators. If Bill 41 were amended as per Motion 5, discussed below, committee believes the NWT would be in a strong position to effectively monitor and control tobacco and vaping products.
The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) can do more than develop legislation to reduce and control the use of tobacco and vaping in the territory.
Committee would like to see the GNWT do a better job of facilitating smokers' access to prescription products that will help them quit smoking.
The Standing Committee on Social Development recommends that the Department of Health and Social Services ensure the territory's drug plan reflects the importance of smoking cessation aids, including that the plan provides smokers with access to these tools on a timely, as-needed basis.
The GNWT should work harder to educate and raise awareness among the public to discourage tobacco use and vaping and ensure they have the information they need to make informed decisions. If the GNWT's previous awareness campaign "Don't Be a Butthead!" had the positive impact, and the Committee believed it did, the committee would like to see the GNWT renew its public education and awareness efforts, targeting communities with the highest smoking rates as well as youth who may be prone to experiment with vaping.
The Standing Committee on Social Development recommends that the Department of Health and Social Services renew its efforts towards public education and awareness to discourage smoking, vaping and other tobacco use among residents, especially youth and in communities where usage is highest, and to ensure they have the information they need to make informed decisions.
CLAUSE-BY-CLAUSE REVIEWS OF BILLS
The clause-by-clause reviews of Bill 40 and Bill 41 were held on August 6, 2019. At these reviews, the Committee moved the motions attached in Appendix A relating to Bill 40 and the motions attached in Appendix B relating to Bill 41.
Committee thanks the Minister for his concurrence with the motions to amend Bill 40 and Bill 41 that were moved during the clause-by-clause reviews.
Following the clause-by-clause reviews, motions were carried to report Bill 40 and Bill 41, both as amended and reprinted, as ready for consideration in Committee of the Whole.
Almost every party who made a submission or provided testimony on Bill 40 and Bill 41 encouraged Committee to err on the side of caution, health and wellness and strive for legislation with long-term protections for the residents of the NWT. As recently noted by Health Canada, the recent introduction of vaping products with the high nicotine content and the significant increase in youth experimentation and uptake of these products are threatening hard‐earned gains in the control of harmful products like tobacco.
For these reasons, committee has made the recommendations and proposed the motions outlined in this report. We believe these recommendations and motions, if implemented, will bring the NWT that much closer to creating an environment where tobacco and vaping products are less accessible to youth and adults, where smokers who are trying to quit are supported, and where fewer people are exposed to tobacco and smoking and vaping behaviour.
Rule 100(5) of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories requires Cabinet, in response to a motion by committee, to table a comprehensive response that addresses the committee report and any related motions adopted by the House. As required by this rule, committee usually includes a recommendation in each report, which is moved as a motion in the House, requesting a response from the government within 120 days.
Given that the 18th Legislative Assembly will dissolve prior to the conclusion of the 120-day time period allowed by the rules, committee has opted to forego this recommendation. Committee nonetheless requests, to the extent it is possible before the dissolution of the 18th Assembly and for the public record, that government provide a response to this recommendation, even of a preliminary nature, that committee may publicly disclose.
Committee wishes to thank every individual and organization who participated in the review process for Bill 40 and Bill 41.
This concludes committee's report on Bill 40: Smoking Control and Reduction Act and Bill 41: Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act. Committee's reports are available on the Legislative Assembly website at www.assembly.gov.nt.ca. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.