October 17, 1919

SENATE BILL-FIRST READING.


Bill No. 32 (from the Senate) for the relief of Arthur LeRoy Eastcott.-Mr. Green.


OPIUM AND DRUG ACT AMENDMENT.


On motion of Hon. Newton W. Rowell (President of the Council), the House went into Committee to consider the following proposed resolution,-Mr. Boivin in the Chair. Resolved, That it is expedient to provide that every person who imports into or exports from Canada any coca leaves, cocaine or any of their salts or preparations, or any opium or its preparations or any opium alkaloids or their salts or preparations, without first obtaining a license therefor from the minister who is presiding over the Department of Health, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars and costs, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both fine and imprisonment, and that these provisions shall be read as one with the Opium and Drug Act, chapter seventeen of the statutes of 1911, and anything in the said Act which is inconsistent with this resolution be repealed.


L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

Perhaps the President of the Council will explain if any material departure is suggested by this resolution from what the law now is, and if any particular thing gave rise to this new legislation.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

As hon. members will recall, we now have an Act which was passed in 1911, which prohibits the importation of opium and drugs of the character mentioned in this resolution, except for scientific or medicinal purposes, and which provides certain penalties if they are imported without reasonable excuse. That Act has been very beneficial in its operation, but conditions have arisen which require further legislation. The United States have adopted very stringent regulations with reference to the importation of these drugs, and they are administering their Acts very strictly. Great Britain has done the same, and Japan and China have also taken strong action in connection with these matters.

It has appeared that the quantities imported into Canada have shown a very marked increase in recent years as the figures given to the House the other day indicate. In view of the situation and in order to exercise greater control over the importation and export of these drugs, in consultation with the Imperial Government, this Government in the month of May last passed Orders in Council prohibiting either the importation or the export of these drugs except under license granted by the Department of Trade and Commerce. By reason of the licenses which were thus provided for, a measure of control over the importation of these drugs has been secured which has proven highly beneficial, and it is the intention when this resolution is adopted, to found a Bill upon it to amend the existing Acts so as to provide that there shall be no importation or export of these drugs except under license to be granted by the proper Governmental authorities. The committee will be interested to leam the effect of requiring a license on the importation of these noxious drugs. The conclusion which the officers of the department have reached is that large quantities of these drugs which have been imported in recent years have not (been imported for consumption in Canada, and that these large quantities do not indicate a corresponding increase in consumption, although there may be some increase in consumption. It is suggested that the object of importing through Canada is to get easy access into the United States, because o.f the strict regulations against importation into that country, and because it is easy to smuggle these drugs across the international boundary line.

I will give the House the figures showing the effects o,f the control exercised under license. As regards cocaine, for the fiscal year ending 31st of March 1919, 12,333 ounces were imported, whereas for the first three months under license, July August and September of this year, the quantity was only 1,544 ounces. The committee will see what a great reduction that means. As regards morphine, the quantity imported for the fiscal year ended the 31st March, 1919, was 30,087 ounces, whereas during the three months of license the quantity was reduced to 2,695 ounces, or approximately 10,000 ounces per year as compared with over 30,000 ounces. As regards crude opium, the quantity imported for the fiscal year ended the 31st March, 1919, was 34,263 pounds, and for the three months under license, 1,110 pounds, or approximately 4,440 pounds for the year as compared with 34,263 pounds. As regards opium powder, there is not so much of a change because only a small quantity was imported. For the fiscal year ended the 31st March, 1919, the quantity imported was 123 pounds, and for the three months under license, 23 pounds. Not only has the quantity of these drugs imported been, by the requiring of a license, remarkably reduced as the figures disclose; but the measure of control which the license gives over the druggist who imports the drug enables the department to follow the matter up and to require the druggist to show how he has disposed of the drugs imported. Moreover, even with this greatly reduced importation some druggists have not been able to show how their purchases have been disposed of.' These cases will be followed up in order-to see that any who are violating the law are punished in accordance with the provisions of the law.

At the Dominion Council of Health last week, representing the health departments of all the provinces of Canada, a strong resolution was passed urging the Government to take action in this matter. They went to the extent of urging absolute Governmental control, but that involves a great many considerations which would require careful thought. All we are asking for at the present time is legislation which will continue in effect the existing Orders in Council which were passed under the War Measures

Act and which require a license either to import or'to export these particular drugs.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

The Government

is. not in favour of public ownership of drugs?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. HOWELL:

If a proper system of handling can be worked out that would not be expensive, there may be a great deal to be said in favour of the Government's absolutely controlling the importation and export of these drugs.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

Is it true that the use of these drugs has largely increased in Ontario during the past year?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

We have no evidence of that, and my advice from the officers of the Health Department is that there is no ground for concluding that the increased importation is due to any laws recently enacted in Ontario.

Resolution concurred in.

Hon. Newton W. Rowell thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 34, to amend the Opium and Drug Act.

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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


MEAT AND CANNED FOODS ACT AMENDMENT.


On motion of Hon. Mr. Maclean the House went into Committee on the following proposed resolution, Mr. Boivin in the Chair: Resolved, That it is expedient to amend The Meat and Canned Foods Act, Chapter twenty-seven of the statutes of 1907, as amended hy chapter thirty-three of the statutes of 1917, by providing (a) for the more exact definition of dry lobster meat and dry meat; (b) for a true and correct description of the contents of cans of fish or shell fish including the vernacular name and the minimum weight, to be plainly printed thereon and the name of the place where the same was packed; (c) for the size of cane for canning lobsters, the weight of content thereof, and that no other size is to be used without written permission first obtained; (d) for the correct labelling of all cans of fish or shellfish imported into Canada so as to indicate the kind and quality of their contents, the minimum weight of the contents, the place of origin, and the name and address of the person, firm or corporation by whom they are packed or toy whom they are imported, provided that canned fish or canned shell-fish imported into Canada to be exported again need not be so labelled.


L LIB
UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

It will be remembered that a resolution in practically the same form as this was before the committee last session. The purpose of the reso-

lution is to amend two sections of chapter 33 of the Acts of 1917 which prescribe the weight of lobster which can be packed in certain cans. One of the sections as it stands reads as follows:

A one-pound can, fourteen ounces, avoirdupois ;

A three-quarter pound can, ten and one-half ounces, avoirdupois;

A half-pound can, seven ounces, avoirdupois;

A quarter-pound can, three and one-half ounces, avoirdupois.

The terms of the section I have just read were the result of a compromise on a Bill introduced in the House in the session of 1917. They did not represent the departmental view, nor the views of those engaged in the canning of lobsters, and it has been demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the department at least, that it is inadvisable to continue this section in its present form. It is stated in the Bill that a pound can shall contain fourteen ounces. The packers object to that, because they feel it gives a wrong impression to the public, and in many instances it has been charged that it permits fraudulent practice upon consumers. The Bill founded on this resolution will provide that lobsters must he packed in (bona fide sized cans, 3, 6, 9, 12, or 16 ounces, and that the label on the can shall indicate the net minimum weight of the lobster meat contained- in the can.

My investigations lead me to the conclusion that the amendments are desirable, and give only justice to those engaged in the industry. The canning of lobsters is much different from the canning of other fish. For instance, the packer always endeavours to put one or more whole lobsters in the can, with claws and tail, whereas in the case of tinned salmon or herring the contents may represent the meat of any number of fish. About 25 per cent of the cans of lobster packed in Canada represent three ounces of dry meat, and 60 per cent, 6 ounces of meat. The packers' experience extending over a great number of years is that cans containing 3 and 6 ounces best suit the public's needs, and any departure from that will work an injury to the industry, and be of no particular benefit to the public. The Bill before the House last year was referred to a committee, but for some reason which I do not know the committee never reported to the House. I hope the legislation will be accepted this session, and that we shall not be obliged to send the Bill to a committee. I might add that the legislation of 1917 required the adoption of a new size of lobster can. Now, lobster cans are standardized, and are made for that par-

ticular business. A lobster can is not made of the same material as a vegetable can, for instance. For the present season it has been impossible for the packers to get cans of the size required by the statute of 1917, and in any event leave will have to be given them for this season to continue to use the same sized cans as they used prior to 1917.

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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

I think the existing law of 1917, mentioned by my hon. friend was . found so embarrassing to the trade that the Government were obliged to make what practically amounted to amendments, by way of regulation, to conform to the custom of the trade. Then last session the matter was brought before the House with the view of enacting practically what is now proposed, or substantially the same thing. A committee had the matter under consideration. There was some difficulty about it, and they had not reached a conclusion when prorogation took place. One of the difficulties has been that under the existing law you use the expression " pound," " half-pound," and so on, and when you say a pound can shall contain only fourteen ounces you are practically saying something which it is not possible to carry out. It was alleged in some cases that you were deceiving the public. I think the general feeling of the committee and of the House will be that we are not so much concerned in the weight of the can, as that it shall be correctly stamped. Here we are getting away from the words "poqnd " and " halfpound " and adopting the present standards of packing without describing the tins as pound, half-pound, or anything else. The bulk of the trade is export, the market is well established, and the weight of the can is pretty well known. I think this legislation will meet the conditions of the trade, and is in the right direction.

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L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

This resolution evidently

does not refer to canned lobsters alone. I see it calls "for the correct labelling of all cans of fish or shellfish imported into - Canada."

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The Bill will

also provide that all cans of fish imported into Canada shall comply with the requirements as regards the description of the contents. That is only right. Another provision will be that the contents of the can shall be -stated on the label in respect of fish that is not shellfish. .

Mr. J. -H. SINCLAIR: What is the legal weight of a can of -salmon?

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I do not think I can give my hon. friend that information

just now. I -shall endeavour to obtain it for him on the second reading of the Bill.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

We should have that information. This relates to all fish, and if we are going to change the usual weights of salmon-

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October 17, 1919