Rafferty Introduces Private Member’s Bill to Fight FASD

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OTTAWA – While the provincial politicians in Ontario are already on their summer break, the work has continued in Ottawa. Member of Parliament John Rafferty (Thunder Bay – Rainy River) rose in the House of Commons today to introduce a Private Members’ Bill designed to assist the efforts of his constituents and local groups in their fight against Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

“I’m very happy to assist the efforts of groups like Fetal Alcohol Support and Information Network of Thunder Bay and great citizens like Dave and Margie Fulton and Marilyn Leiterman,” Rafferty said.  “They are local leaders in the fight against FASD who asked for my support, and I am happy to put forward this bill as their Member of Parliament.”

Should it be passed, Rafferty’s bill will require that a warning label pertaining to the dangers of drinking while pregnant is placed on the packaging and containers of all alcohol beverages sold in Canada.   Specially, Bill C-532 would ensure that alcohol packaging contains a warning to the consumer that; “The Public Health Agency of Canada advises that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy and that consuming alcohol during pregnancy may cause brain damage in the developing child.”

Typically, health issues such as FASD are the constitutional responsibility of the provinces in Canada, but Rafferty was able to table his bill in the federal House of Commons because it pertains to the regulation of the alcoholic beverages industry.  “It would be a small step forward, but the federal government is somewhat limited in these matters,” Rafferty said.  “Despite these limitations though I believe that the provisions of the bill would be a responsible step forward for the federal government and will hopefully make a significant contribution to the efforts of all groups and individuals who are trying to reduce and eliminate FASD in our region and across Canada.”

While Bill C-532 has been tabled in the House of Commons, the legislation is unlikely to come up for debate prior to the next election.  “It’s important to put this bill out there now,” Rafferty said while noting that there are no other bills pertaining to FASD on the Order Paper at this time.  “This is about agenda setting, supporting the work of my constituents, and affirming my belief that FASD is a serious public health issue in Canada.  I hope it will open the door to future work in parliament on the issue,” the MP added.