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

Hwy 24 closed west of Bridge lake due to motor vehicle incident

No further information is available at this time.

F350 stolen and smashed into 108 Mile Esso

The weekly police report for the South Cariboo area

What are you hoping for in the upcoming municipal election?

The weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

Paranormal conference coming to 100 Mile House

Paracon will be a celebration of everything weird and strange

100 Mile House preparing for another Orange Shirt Day

People of non-First Nations ancestry should listen to the stories of First Nations people for reconciliation

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Most Read