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

School district considers new position, drug concerns raised

Assistant superintendent confirms spike in use of a Xanax-like drug in schools earlier this year

Nanaimo’s elementary schools graded by Fraser Institute

Annual Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools released Saturday, April 21

UPDATED: Nanaimo man dies after highway crash in Nanoose Bay Friday afternoon

Accident happened just before 4 p.m. near Hillview Road.

School district changes mind, won’t cut community school coordinators

Budget initiatives proposed for next school year

City of Nanaimo’s proposed resolutions rejected at local government conference

City council had contingent at Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention

MULTIMEDIA: Goats were special guests at Nanaimo Earth Day celebration

Community event was held Saturday, April 21, at John Barsby Secondary School

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Nanaimo region receives $700,000 in federal support for summer jobs

Funding for Nanaimo-Ladysmith up $74,000 from last year

Students celebrate new indigenous garden

Garden teaches students about traditional uses of local plants

RCMP investigate sexual assault in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating a reported sexual assault April 11

RCMP discover beaver the culprit in break-and-enter attempt

Nanaimo RCMP responded to a 911 call on Sun Valley Drive on Wednesday night

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Most Read