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Pandemic to push back new climate targets, plastics ban, Wilkinson says

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Canada’s national environment agenda is the latest thing to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, as plans for both beefing up national climate targets and banning some plastics are likely to be delayed.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told The Canadian Press this week that the government remains firmly committed to its environmental promises, which were a key part of the Liberal 2019 re-election campaign. However he acknowledged that the efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Canada will also slow the government’s ability to move on some of its environment goals.

“We’ve continued to work on a number of elements but there are some where we’ve had to delay,” Wilkinson said.

The clean fuel standard to require fuels like gasoline and diesel to burn more cleanly is being pushed back at least several months because of COVID-19. Last month the government moved the implementation date for new standards on liquid fuels like gasoline from Jan. 1, 2022, to just sometime in 2022. The proposed regulations that were to be published this spring, are not coming now until the fall.

The standard is expected to contribute about 15% of the more than 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gases Canada committed to eliminate by 2030 under the Paris climate change agreement.

But during the election Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised Canada would go further than that and Wilkinson told the world in December that Canada’s new climate plan would be ready in time for the fall 2020 United Nations climate meetings in Scotland. That meeting, which was to be held in November, has also been a casualty of COVID-19, postponed into 2021.

Under the Paris agreement, all countries were supposed to upgrade their emissions targets this year, to bring the world more in line with what scientists say must be done to slow climate change. Thus far only seven countries have done so and Wilkinson is no longer certain Canada will produce one by the fall.

“My intention is to bring forward the updated climate plan as soon as it is reasonable to do that,” he said. “Right now we need to be focused on fighting the virus but certainly our intention and our commitment to the climate file remains very firm.”

He said the same commitment exists when it comes to single use plastics, but the virus is also intruding on that plan. In January, Environment Canada issued a draft scientific assessment confirming plastics are harmful to the environment, which was the first step towards the goal to begin banning some products. At that time, Wilkinson said the ban would absolutely begin in 2021.

But the government extended the required comment period on the scientific report by 30 days last month. It closed May 1 instead of April 1.

Wilkinson said the intention to move on a plastics ban remains but said he can’t say when.

“That is another one that has been a little bit affected by the pandemic,” said Wilkinson.

“It’s very difficult to know exactly how this is all going to sort itself out given the uncertainty of the times but we do intend to move forward on the plastics ban.”

Sarah King, head of the oceans and plastics campaign for Greenpeace Canada, said she is hopeful any delay will be minimal.

“We have been waiting for a long time to see the words and the election promises turn to action,” said King. “Obviously, a delay is problematic because every day that goes by, every week that goes by, every month that goes by, billions of pieces of plastic are entering our market. This is something that we need to urgently deal with.”


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Canada, convenience and COVID-19

As Canadians work together to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 outbreak, the convenience industry is working to meet the needs of Canadians. After all, this is a business where working from home isn’t an option and customers rely on their local c-store for basic supplies and more.

Across the country, some retailers, bars and restaurants are closing temporarily or reducing hours. The situation is fluid province to province and, as we discovered, from business to business, as c-stores balance meeting the needs of customers with protecting staff and public safety.

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The Convenience Industry Council of Canada released a statement yesterday saying its members are committed to keep Canada’s convenience stores up and running, as long as it is safe for owners, staff and customers.

“It is critical that consumers have access to basic necessities and our convenience store industry is committed to that,” says Anne Kothawala, president and CEO of the CICC, adding the organization has a COVID-19 working group that is focused on sharing best practices such as increased sanitization procedures. “That includes all high-touch areas like checkouts and cooler doors. For their part, our distributors are also working around the clock to ensure shelves remain stocked.”

CICC has developed a best practices document, which is posted on its website. Here is a link to the Federal Government’s Economic Response Plan as it relates to small business operators.

As of March 20, nine provinces and the three territories have declared a state of emergency or public health emergency. In many cases, these provinces have explicitly identified convenience stores and gas stations as essential services.

On March 17, Ontario enacted a State of Emergency, closing restaurants (except take-out), bars and venues of 50 people or more. At the moment, convenience stores may stay open. Those that offer foodservice are closing dining areas and offer take-out only.

On March 19, Vic Fedeli announced the province moved to ensure trucks could deliver goods to stores day or night, without worrying about municipal noise by-laws.

On March 23, both Ontario and Quebec ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses.

In a statement, CICC told is members it “has been directly in touch with Premiers’ and Ministers’ offices and has been assured that the convenience and gas supply chain is an essential service.”

Around 8 p.m., the Province released its list of essential businesses, including convenience stores.

“The OCSA continues to advocate to serve in every community and work with our members to continue the flow of goods to every town, city and village.  It is a privilege to be opened during these unknown times,” said CEO Dave Bryans.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 4.18.00 PMThe Ontario Convenience Stores Association is calling on operators to rally in the face of the outbreak: “The convenience store channel must show leadership and disciplines on the cleanliness of our stores.”

The association has created window signs that operators can print and post in store and at entrances. Link here.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 1.06.16 PMThe Atlantic Convenience Stores Association reached out to its members March 17. “We have been invited to join a working group consisting of business associations in Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Department of Business. The purpose of the working group is to communicate concerns of small business to government and to be able to receive up-to-date briefings.” The goal is to create similar groups in other Atlantic provinces.

In a statement, president Mike Hammond said: “Many business operations have been negatively impacted and we will be advocating on your behalf for assistance and relief from governments.”

Independent operators take it day by day

Meanwhile, operators across the country are working hard to keep customers engaged and feeling confident about service levels.

Screen Shot 2019-11-14 at 9.16.50 PMFor instance, Leslieville Pumps in Toronto, which is famous for it’s barbeque, has “increased the amount of time that staff are sanitizing” and is even offering to run orders out to people’s cars. Many other small stores and restaurants in its east-end neighbourhood have already closed.

PopBox Market in Toronto’s west end is open (as of publishing), but reducing hours: “Our suppliers are still operating and the food supply will continue to be replenished.”

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Alcona Esso is open for business.

Meanwhile, outside the city, Alcona Esso in Innisfil, Ont. told followers on Twitter: “Don’t worry, we will remain open.” Staff are shown wearing latex gloves to help guard against the spread of germs.

In the face of the outbreak and social isolation, independent retailers, like many small business owners across the country, are making difficult decisions.

On March 17, Enniskillen General Store, which operates four locations in Ontario, had closed its Port Perry store and two more closures were the in the works: “We have made the very painful decision to sell our milk, eggs, & packaged ice cream today & then we will close our Oshawa & Bowmanville locations. Our main Enniskillen will stay open as a way to serve our community up there. We will not be scooping any individual ice creams.”

UnknownClearview Co-op in Alberta has a dedicated Coronavirus Info page on its website. As a precaution, its South Junction Co-op will close its dining area and provide take out only beginning March 18th.

In Saskatchewan, Humboldt Co-op announced its Humboldt and Lanigan Food Stores will open one hour early to accommodate seniors and others who are compromised due to health conditions.

Most retailers are closed self-serve food bars.

What are the chains doing?

Larger chains are also closely watching the situation and acting accordingly.

On its website, Rabba Fine Foods said: “Rabba Fine Foods is always open 24/7 to serve you, no matter what. We are well stocked with all items including dairy, bakery, fresh produce, health and wellness products and toiletries.”

In a statement, the company explained: “Our stores employ certified food handlers who are taking precautions to ensure we sanitize and limit risks, based on Government Guidelines.”

On March 23, the company announced it was installing checkout barriers at all 34 of it stores.

7-eleven-logo-500x400Meanwhile, Norman Hower, VP & GM, 7-Eleven Canada, which operates 636 stores across the country, said in a statement the company has “enhanced our standards and procedures for hygiene, hand washing, sanitation, food handling and preparation in stores, and increased the frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces. We are in communication with federal and provincial health agencies and officials. We are reviewing updates from the World Health Organization; and we are sharing guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada with stores.”

In addition, 7-Eleven is:

  • Alerting employees to the importance of staying home if individuals have any symptoms of the COVID-19 illness or if they feel sick.
  • Displaying hygiene posters in high-traffic areas in stores.
  • Temporarily discontinuing the use of personal cups for hot and cold dispensed beverages.
  • Working with vendors and suppliers to stock stores with high demand, essential products and making them easy for you to find.
  • Demonstrating to you and the communities we serve that we are here to provide quality products at fair and honest prices.

The c-store operator is asking customers to only shop if they are feeling well, pointing out that it now offers delivery to more than 11 million Canadians through the UBER Eats and Foodora delivery apps.

“We’re committed to providing you with what you want, when and where you want it. We’ve been a leader in the convenience industry in Canada for 51 years, and we’ll keep working hard every day to earn your trust and your business,” said Hower.

UnknownIn a call with analysts on March 18, Alimentation Couche-Tard CEO Brian Hannasch said the retailer’s experience positions it well to meet the challenges from COVID-19: “When we’ve experienced these types of situations in the past, if you think about hurricanes, floods, etc., our industry has played a key role in helping our communities get through these situations, and we’ll attempt to do the same here.”

He notes there is higher demand for some items such as water, tobacco products and (in some areas) beer, as customers stock up, but no material issues with its supply chain.

The Quebec-based company said it has contingency plans if stores are forced to close, reduce hours or face labour shortages.

“So right now, we expect to remain open. However, we do have plans where we’ve identified sites that we would close and transfer employees to make sure that we keep our most strategic sites open in the event of running short of available team members,” he said. “One of the benefits of being global is we’re able to share information and best practises and learnings across our business units and apply the lessons we learn in Europe to our North American businesses.”

READ: Hurricanes and floods have prepared Alimentation Couche-Tard for COVID-19.

On March 24, Couche-Tard announced via Twitter it was increasing pay by $2.50 an hour for all Canadian hourly employees.

As of publishing, Parkland had not responded to inquiries about how the companies are handling the situation at stores across Canada. However, we will update as information becomes available.

Safety measures and supplies

Across the country, many stores are no longer accepting cash, opting instead for debit and credit payments only to reduce hand-to-hand contact.

While all industry-related shows are cancelled, postponed or moving online, the industry is still robust and supplies are getting through to retailers.

Unknown-1In a statement from CEO Pat Carey and president Dan Elrod, Wallace & Carey said it “has been preparing for this unfolding situation since it first began to develop and we are positioned to assist your company with the many unforeseen challenges you may face as a result of it.”

The company has a continuity strategy in place designed to mitigate potential interruptions. “As circumstances change, we continue to adapt our protocols to address the safety of our people, our customers and others with whom we work. All of our distribution centers are open for business. If there is a possibility of any changes to the delivery of your orders we will notify you immediately; however at the moment there are no disruptions.”

Efforts include:

  1. We have assembled a Pandemic Response Team to ensure that all safety and health obstacles that could occur as a result of the virus are addressed swiftly.  This team is set up to meet daily and provide updated reports.
  2. Our contractual and branch janitorial teams have heightened their cleaning protocols and frequency in all our distribution centers.
  3. We have provided to all our distribution centers, up to date information on virus protection and prevention and it is posted on all our communications screens.
  4. We have implemented enhanced protocols for our drivers to ensure their safety and our customer’s safety.
  5. We have suspended all non-essential travel for our company.
  6. We have launched an online COVID-19 information center where teammates can send their questions and concerns to Info@wacl.com and our project response team will send a response to them within 24 hours.

CN, which delivers goods by rail across the country, said that while it “continues to monitor and proactively respond to the developing COVID-19 pandemic…. there are no interruptions to our service caused by COVID-19 and we continue to operate very efficiently.”

“Together we can keep the supply chain to Canada’s consumers open and functioning effectively,” says Kothawala, adding all stakeholders are closely monitoring updates from national and provincial health authorities to ensure that the industry responds to recommendations in a timely manner: “As this very challenging situation evolves, we will quickly adapt and share new learning on preventative measures that will ensure reliable and safe customer service.”

CICC also reports is has received confirmation that governments are “focusing on regulations that are necessary to deal with COVID-19. Regulations pertaining to files such as vaping or consumer packaging are on hold.”

Convenience Store News Canada will work to keep you up-to-date on industry-related news – follow our social media feeds. The Public Health Agency of Canada is the most reliable resource for information. You can visit the PHAC’s website or follow on Twitter. Also, closely monitor provincial Ministry of Health sites for the latest directives. Links to provincial sites here.

 

RELATED READS:

5 ways to safeguard workers and customers

Hurricanes and floods have prepared Alimentation Couche-Tard for COVID-19.

Ontario and Quebec order non-essential businesses to close

7-Eleven adding up to 20,000 new positions

Rabba installing glass barriers at checkout

OLG shares best practices for lottery sales during COVID-19 pandemic

C-stores deemed essential businesses in Ontario

How is your business responding to COVID-19?

Contact CSNC editor Michelle Warren at mwarren@ensembleiq.com or tag us on social media @CSNC_Octane


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Cross Canada vaping regulations update: March

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Several provinces and territories have taken steps to curb the use of vaping products among youth.

Here is a list of the measures they’ve put in place:

BRITISH COLUMBIA

The B.C. government introduced a 10-point plan in November 2019 that includes cutting nicotine content in vapour pods, restricting flavours aimed at young people, increasing taxes and supporting youth-led anti-vaping campaigns. The plan also includes requiring health warnings on packaging and prevents advertising in areas where youth spend time, including bus shelters and community parks. The government said the new regulations will take effect in the spring of 2020. The province has set a 20% tax on vaping products.

ALBERTA

The province announced a 20% tax on vaping products in February in a bid to curb the practice among youth. It has not announced any other legislation to address vaping, however, some of its municipalities have bylaws that restrict e-cigarette use in public places. The province’s health minister, Tyler Shandro, has also asked for a review of tobacco and smoking legislation, with a focus on regulating vaping, as soon as this fall. The government says the review will help it develop strategies to protect Albertans from the harms of vaping, tobacco and tobacco-like products, and assess the effectiveness of current legislation.

SASKATCHEWAN

The Saskatchewan government has passed amendments to its Tobacco Control Act to bring regulation of vaping in line with existing tobacco legislation. The new rules will restrict the sale of vaping products to people 18 and older and prohibit the promotion of such products in businesses frequented by young people, such as arcades, theatres and amusement parks. The use of vape products will also be restricted in and around public buildings, including schools and school grounds.

MANITOBA

The Manitoba government’s Non-Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Act prohibits vaping by people under the age of 18. It also bans vaping in indoor public places like schools, libraries, hospitals, malls, restaurants and indoor workplaces. The province’s ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products covers e-cigarettes as well.

ONTARIO

Ontario has announced plans to restrict the sale of flavoured vapes and high nicotine e-cigarettes to specialty stores. On Jan. 1, it banned the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations.

QUEBEC

The sale and supply of vape products to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal, and photo ID is required to buy such products. Their use of vapingproducts is prohibited wherever tobacco smoking is banned. Electronic cigarette advertising _ except ads in newspapers or magazines that have an adult readership of not less than 85% _ is prohibited, as is the display of e-cigarettes in stores accessible to people under age 18. However, adding flavours to the liquids used in e-cigarettes remains legal, whereas it is not for tobacco products.

NEW BRUNSWICK

New Brunswick bans the sale of e-cigarettes and e-juices to people under age 19, and no one under that age is allowed to enter a vape shop unless accompanied by an adult. Outdoor advertising by vape shops is prohibited and promotional material inside the shops cannot be viewed from the outside. Restrictions on promotional materials that apply to tobacco in other retail shops also apply to e-cigarettes. The sale of flavoured tobacco, including menthol, is also banned in New Brunswick.

NOVA SCOTIA

Health Minister Randy Delorey has announced the province will ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices as of April 1, 2020. Nova Scotia banned the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 19 in 2015. Vaping is also prohibited in any venue where tobacco smoking is banned, and vape shops are not allowed to display e-cigarette ads outside their businesses.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

The P.E.I. legislature passed a bill in November raising the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21 _ the highest age limit in the country. The legislation also bans certain flavours of e-cigarettes. E-cigarette sales are already banned wherever tobacco sales are prohibited. Vape shops are not allowed to display e-cigarette devices in a way that makes them visible from outside the premises. Vaping or product sampling in retail outlets is prohibited, as it is in a public place or workplace. Any advertising that is misleading regarding the characteristics, health effects and health hazards of vaping products is also illegal.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

The province bans the sale of vaping products to people under age 19. Sales of such products are also prohibited wherever tobacco sales are banned, and promotional materials for vaping products cannot be visible inside or outside the shop where they’re sold. Vape shops are allowed to operate in the province providing they only sell vapour products.

YUKON

Yukon does not currently have any laws dealing with vaping. However, a bill was introduced in its legislature in October that would, if passed, set the minimum age for buying vape products at 19 and prohibit the display or advertising of such products.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

The Smoking Control and Reduction Act was passed in August 2019. The rule changes would regulate the sale, display and advertising of vape products and the substances used in e-cigarettes. It would prohibit the use of these products by people under the age of 19 and ban the sale of food items that are designed to resemble vape (and tobacco) products. The sale of vape products at locations such as schools, hospitals, pools and recreational facilities would also be banned.

NUNAVUT

Current regulations only dictate where people can vape, but the territory’s chief medical officer of health has said amendments to the territory’s Tobacco Control Act to put stricter restrictions on vaping will likely be implemented sometime this year2. Dr. Michael Patterson said the new rules would likely mirror tobacco regulations, which ban flavoured tobacco and flashy packaging aimed at enticing young people.


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Greenergy brings new forecourt brand to Canada

Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 1.04.41 PMGreenergy is introducing the Inver forecourt brand to Canada, with the opening of three new sites.

The first Inver sites are now open in Ontario, with locations in York, Etobicoke and Burlington, with a further two sites to open in Thunder Bay in December.

Inver Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenergy in the Republic of Ireland.  According to a release, the Inver brand “has proved extremely popular in that market, growing organically to become the country’s fastest-growing forecourt brand. Based on the success of the format, Greenergy has now decided to make the Inver brand available to customers in Canada.”

The Inver brand extends Greenergy’s existing retail offer in Canada, where Greenergy has developed Breakaway, a hockey-themed forecourt brand tailored to Canadian consumers.

“Our unique supply chain infrastructure, supply dependability, superior service and customer-centric focus are powerful differentiators in the retail fuel industry,” said Mike Healey, CEO of Greenergy Fuels Canada. “The addition of Inver to our branded retail offer strengthens our ability to best meet dealers’ needs and, as a partner in their business growth, to fuel their success.”

 

Established in the UK 27 years ago, Greenergy is a supplier and distributor of transportation fuels. The company entered the Canadian market in 2013 and has since invested in strategically important infrastructure assets across Ontario, includging Concord, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Johnstown (opening in December).  With both sea and rail-fed terminals and storage in the US Mid-West, Quebec and Ontario, Greenergy can source product through multiple channels, thereby reducing dependency on any one third party provider and minimizing the risk of supply disruption for customers.

Now Greenergy is expanding sales to the retail sector. Inver is an established brand in Ireland and was  acquired by Greenergy in October 2017.  The 35-year-old company is one of the leading importers of fuel into Ireland and launched its retail brand there in  2012: There are now 61 Inver forecourt locations across the country.


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Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets: report

Canada’s plan to meet its greenhouse- gas emissions targets is among the worst in the G20, according to a new report card on climate action.

Climate Transparency issued its annual report Monday grading all the countries in the group of 20 with large economies on their climate performance and finds none of them has much to brag about. The international group compiles data on countries’ emissions and policies in an attempt to push them into investing in clean technology.

The G20 nations account for 85% of global economic activity and in 2018 produced 80% of all greenhouse-gas emissions, which accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat.

B2G-Report-2019_Cover-PageThe report says about half the G20 members—19 countries with advanced economies plus the European Union collectively—are on track to meet their current targets for cutting emissions by 2030 but those targets are much too mild. If every G20 member does not drastically scale up its targets, the G20 overall will produce more emissions in 2030 than it does today, Climate Transparency said.

Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest from meeting targets to cut emissions in line with their Paris Agreement commitments, but those commitments are nowhere close to enough, the report says. Canada’s per-capita emissions, the greenhouse gases it releases divided by the number of people who live here, are the second-highest in the G20, behind only Australia.

Canada’s national reports show existing plans will leave Canada about 80 millions tonnes shy of its existing 2030 goal of 513 megatonnes of carbon dioxide and equivalents. That target is only about half as tough as it needs to be, Climate Transparency argues.

Under all current G20 targets, the world is projected to warm by 3 C by the end of the century. After 1.5 C, scientists say there is a “growing risk that critical tipping points will be crossed, at which point the Earth’s system will experience major and largely irreversible changes.”

Critical water shortages will be five times greater in G20 nations at 3 C of warming, compared with 1.5 C, the report said. As well the average number of days above 35 C in G20 countries each year will exceed 50 at 3 C compared with 30 at 1.5 C. Drought, extreme rainfall, food scarcity, shorter growing seasons and greater spread of insect-borne diseases are all among the expected problems of climate change.

Extreme weather, including that caused by climate change, already kills 16,000 people a year in the G20 and costs more than $142 billion.

The report applauded Canada for introducing a national price on carbon earlier this year, and for implementing tougher environmental reviews for major projects like pipelines and mines. But it slammed the Liberal government for approving the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion a second time in June, just days after Parliament voted in favour of a Liberal motion declaring a climate emergency.

The report says Canada is among global leaders in getting rid of coal power but is a laggard on a number of fronts, including energy use and emissions from cars and buildings.

It says Canada has four times the G20 average for emissions per person from transportation and has more than twice the average emissions from buildings. Canada’s economy is the third most energy-intensive in the G20, meaning only two other countries use more energy for every $1 of their economic production. While energy use is dropping in the G20 overall, Canada’s energy use has stayed steady over the last five years.

Climate action was a key part of the recent federal election, with four of the five parties that elected MPs pledging to do more to cut emissions and reduce energy use. The issue is expected to take centre stage in the next Parliament.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to do better than Canada’s existing 2030 commitment but did not say by how much. He also intends to get Canada to zero net emissions by 2050, meaning any emissions that do come out of Canada would be absorbed by either natural features like forests or technology like carbon capture and storage systems.

The report notes that 2020 is a critical year for climate change because it’s the year Paris Agreement signatories are required to submit new national targets.


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Health organizations call for end to promotion of vaping products

Federal officials have to act right away to avoid further risks of serious illness from vaping, eight Canadian health organizations said Sept 19.

The groups are asking for an interim order from Health Canada to curb the marketing of vaping products, restrict the flavours available and regulate their nicotine levels.

Vaping products, the organizations say, should be treated the same way as tobacco products.

“Youth vaping has become a public-health crisis,” Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Thursday’s call comes after news of a serious vaping-related illness in London, Ont., as well as hundreds of cases in the United States, including seven deaths reportedly linked to vaping. Authorities are still struggling to determine what exactly has made vapers sick.

And on Thursday, Health Canada issued a statement advising vapers again to monitor themselves for coughs, shortness of breath or chest pain and to seek medical attention if they are concerned.

The coalition of health groups said an interim order would allow the government to put in place regulations for up to 12 months while permanent versions were drafted.

“Wasting time on this can only increase the risks to Canadians,” Buchman said.

The organizations are asking for all federal parties to commit to issuing such an order within 60 days of forming government after the Oct. 21 election.

The group includes the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Lung Association, Coalition quebecoise pour le controle du tabac, Heart & Stroke, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

The organizations recommended restrictions on advertising similar to those on ordinary tobacco, a ban on most or all flavoured products, and a nicotine restriction of 20 mg/ml of vaping fluid in line with European Union standards.

The groups shied away from calling for a full ban on vaping products, instead focusing on the surging rate of vaping among younger Canadians.

A survey done for Health Canada and published this year found that one-fifth of high school aged students reported using vaping products, as well as one-seventh of children aged 13 and 14.

Cynthia Callard, the executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said vaping products have changed to become more addictive, attractive and accessible to youth.

“In short, tobacco companies are hooking kids on vape products in the same ways they used to hook their parents and grandparents on cigarettes,” Callard said.

Imperial Tobacco Canada issued a statement saying the solution to recent health concerns over vaping was “enforcement of existing restrictions on sales to youth and prohibitions on flavours appealing to youth” as well as regulations ensuring higher product quality and safety.

David Hammond, a professor at the University of Waterloo who has studied vaping in Canada, said the statement from the health groups emphasizes a consensus that “something has to be done” on vaping, especially on advertising, flavours and access for youth.

He said vaping can clearly be harmful, though less harmful than smoking, which is not saying much, he added.

Still, Hammond said there is some room for vaping as a means of helping people quit smoking.

“Can they help people quit? Yes. Are they an absolute game-changer? Not right now,” he said.

There is no doubt that the rate of vaping in Canada has increased “on every measure,” Hammond said.

He noted that legislation allowing the sale of vaping products coincided with the entrance of the company Juul into the market. That company “changed the chemistry to make it easier, more palatable to inhale very high levels of nicotine,” he said.

At the same time, the Canadian government “clearly opened (the door) too wide for advertising and promotion,” especially to younger Canadians, Hammond said.

He said restrictions on advertising, on at least some flavours and on sales were a good place to start, but cautioned that vaping will be a tough challenge for governments.

“These are here to stay,” he said, flagging the vaping of cannabis as the next issue.

Juliet Guichon, a professor at the University of Calgary, echoed the view that Canadian legislation does not address youth vaping with enough seriousness.

“I think (the government) didn’t realize at the time what was going to happen,” she said.

She floated a few ways of reducing vaping among minors, including requiring retailers to ask for identification from purchasers, and potentially raising the age required to buy vaping products to 21.

On Sept. 18, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said Health Canada would look at several kinds of regulations for vaping, but had not yet committed to any changes.


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Canadian health officials on alert after reports of vaping illnesses in the U.S.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says he and colleagues across Canada have increased their vigilance as American health officials investigate nearly 200 cases of severe respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping.

Dr. Robert Strang said surveillance is being strengthened and he is sending informal email inquiries to respiratory specialists and intensive care units at Nova Scotia hospitals to see if there are any similar cases.

“It’s premature to say that these (U.S. cases) are absolutely caused by vaping, but the links are very concerning,” Strang said in an interview. “We are well aware of the broader issue, and I’m certainly involved in the national conversations … around what more do we need to do to strengthen our approach to vaping.”

As of late last month, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 193 people in 22 states had contracted severe respiratory illnesses after vaping.

But they stressed that a clear-cut common cause of the illnesses hadn’t been identified and that they were being classified as “potential cases still under investigation.”

Strang, who has long been outspoken about the potential dangers posed by e-cigarettes and vaping products, said Health Canada was already looking at strengthening its regulations before the U.S. health scare began in June.

He said health officials are collaborating on draft regulations that would strengthen protections for youth, in particular. Provincial regulations are also being examined to see if they can be beefed up.

“This new (U.S.) evidence raises the importance and the urgency of that work while we wait for more definitive information to come,” Strang said.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada confirm they are monitoring the recent U.S. clusters of acute pulmonary illnesses reportedly linked to the use of vaping products, which have led to one death.

Maryse Durette, a spokeswoman for the two agencies, said Canadian health officials have not yet seen any evidence of similar clusters occurring in Canada.

Durette said in a statement that Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are in close contact with counterparts in the United States, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to “better understand” the investigation into the illnesses.

“The Government of Canada will continue to monitor all available data sources for indications of similar issues in Canada and will take action, as appropriate, to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” the statement said.

Dr. Andrew Pipe, a clinician with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, believes similar cases will be detected in Canada now that Canadian doctors are aware of the problems that have surfaced south of the border.

An expert on smoking cessation, Pipe said the situation also underscores the need for “thoughtful and forceful” regulation of vaping products and their marketing in Canada.

Pipe said there is currently an epidemic of youth vaping in Canada that coincides with an increase in youth and adolescent smoking rates for the first time in more than three decades. He said regulations need to focus on advertising to youth, and there need to be controls on the nature of vaping devices and the amount of nicotine they contain.

“The world does not need candy floss peach-flavoured e-juice,” Pipe said. “We need to adopt the same kind of regulations for marketing and advertising as far as youth are concerned that we do for tobacco products.”

Nova Scotia’s was one of the first provinces to introduce regulations banning the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 19 and banning in-store advertising, but Strang said there could be further tightening.

He said online sales still pose a challenge, and he is concerned by reports that teens are able to purchase from vape stores. “Clearly we have some work to do around making sure that licensed vape stores are not selling to minors,” Strang said.

A recent study in the medical journal The Lancet found that the prevalence of vaping among 16- to 19-year-olds had increased in Canada and the U.S. between 2017 and 2018, as did smoking in Canada.

And although vaping is likely a less harmful mode of nicotine delivery than cigarettes, the study said “long-term exposure to e-cigarette vapour might cause nicotine dependence and increase the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.”

Strang said that amounts to a call to action.

“If you are not smoking or vaping, you are putting your health at risk by starting to vape,” he said. “We need to get that message out there much more strongly.”


Canada, California plan to work together to make cleaner cars, cut emissions

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna signed a vehicle-emissions agreement with California Wednesday that the state’s governor and auto industry experts see as a signal that Canada is going to side with California in a U.S. dispute over emissions standards.

The agreement is aimed at harmonizing efforts to cut pollution from cars and pickup trucks, including emissions standards, accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and collaborating to make fuels that are used burned more cleanly.

“In terms of Canada, 25% of our carbon pollution comes from transportation,” McKenna said. “To change that we need cleaner cars. Working with California is a way forward.”

The agreement comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to roll back emissions standards set by former president Barack Obama. Trump’s plan would take away California’s long-standing legal authority to go its own route on vehicle emissions. California is pushing back hard against those changes, including in court, and Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated Wednesday California has no intention of backing away from that fight.

The Obama standards would have required vehicles to become more fuel-efficient every year between 2017 and 2025, so that by the end of the period, cars and trucks would burn 50% less gasoline and emit 50% less carbon dioxide.

Trump intends to freeze the standards at 2020 levels.

Canada has long harmonized its vehicle emissions standards with the United States, both an economic and environmental necessity born of the deep integration of the U.S. and Canadian auto industries. When Trump said last year he intended to roll back the targets, Canada launched its own review of the emissions plan.

McKenna indicated Wednesday Canada isn’t likely to announce its plans for vehicle emissions standards until after the White House makes its final decision on the matter. She said the ideal result would be for the U.S. to continue with one national standard but acknowledged right now it looks as though there will be two _ one national standard and one followed by California and at least 13 other states that have joined California’s fight.

If that happens, Canada is leaning towards California.

“If there are two choices in the U.S. our focus is about how do we get meaningful cuts to climate pollution,” McKenna said.

Newsom and California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols perceive the agreement with Canada that way. The two joined a news conference call with McKenna Wednesday, in which Newsom said the agreement “reinforces our efforts and reinforces our commitment and resolve” to push on with the Obama standards.

Nichols indicated the agreement will even help in the battle with Washington.

“The auto industry is looking for leadership here and having Canada signalling that it is in general alignment with us on these issues can only be helpful in this broader debate,” she said.

But Canadian auto-industry officials warn McKenna not to be so hasty. They say picking a side in this fight will undermine the work of negotiating the auto chapter in the new North American free-trade agreement.

Huw Williams, director of public affairs for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, said the agreement with California is “premature.”

“Canada should focus on one standard in the U.S. as opposed to looking like the 51st state,” he said.

Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, said the biggest environmental and economic benefit to Canada will be to align with a single national standard in the United States. He said Canada should be pressuring California and the U.S. federal government to resume their talks to keep a single standard rather than throwing its eggs into California’s basket.

“We have to ask ourselves why would want to support a bifurcated market or standard for vehicle emissions,” he said. “We spent just two years negotiating the new NAFTA, which is really designed to reinforce the integrated economies.”

Nantais, whose association represents the Canadian arms of Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, said if the U.S. splits its standard and Canada picks a side, it could raise prices of vehicles here or limit available car models as companies simply refuse to produce cars that meet Canada’s and California’s demands.

McKenna and Newsom both stressed that together, the economies of Canada, California and the other 13 states represent at least half the auto market in North America, giving weight to their joint efforts.


ID please: Here’s what c-store operators need to know about vaping regulations

Buy-marijuana-or-weed-18-years-old-under-21Although Health Canada acknowledges that vaping is less harmful than smoking, the country’s national health overseer also has serious concerns about e-cigarettes and related products. With that in mind, there are a number or rules and regulations c-store operators should keep top of mind.

According to Health Canada, vaping can lead to nicotine addiction, it can cause lung damage, and the long-term impacts remain unknown.

This leads to concerns about the appeal of vaping for young people, a concern manufacturers take seriously. “Our position is very simple: just as we believe that youth should not smoke, we agree that youth should not vape,” says Eric Gagnon, head of corporate affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada. “We support measures that prevent under-age access to vapour products.”

Rob Colucci, Fontem Canada – blu Vapour, adds, “We recognize that much work needs to be done in striking an appropriate balance between ensuring no youth uptake of vaping products while ensuring sufficient communication with adult smokers is allowed so as to encourage them to switch out of tobacco.

“Fontem Canada – blu Vapour shares Health Canada’s concerns about the increase in vaping product use by youth and agrees that youth access to vaping products and the inducement to use them is a serious and legitimate concern. Accordingly, we strongly support government regulatory initiatives aimed at preventing vaping products to be targeted at youth in Canada and around the world.”

Most vaping regulations are provincial and vary across the country, although generally there is a concerted effort to protect younger people from e-cigarettes and related products. Federally, the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, which became law on May 23, 2018, protects youth from nicotine addiction and from incentives to use tobacco and vaping products. It allows adults to access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to smoking.

The act creates a national minimum age of access for vaping products: 18 years. It also includes significant restrictions on the promotion of vaping products, such as bans on:

  • advertising that appeals to youth;
  • lifestyle advertising;
  • sponsorship promotion; and
  • giveaways of vaping products or branded merchandise.

Additional restrictions under the legislation came into force late last year. These include bans on:

  • the sale and promotion of vaping products that make the product appealing to youth, such as interesting shapes or sounds;
  • the promotion of certain flavours — like candy, desserts, or soft drinks — that may be appealing to youth; and
  • product promotion by testimonials or endorsements.

Industry reacts to Health Canada plain packaging rules for tobacco

Canadian cigarette packs will have to be plain drab brown with standardized layouts and lettering under new rules that start this fall, Health Canada says.

The government says plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking, keeping them from getting lost amid colourful designs and branding.

Health Canada says plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking.

Manufacturers will have to begin complying with labelling rules for packages and dimensions for cigarettes by Nov. 9, 2019, while retailers will have to sell only products meeting the new rules by Feb. 7, 2020.

Officials said plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking, keeping them from getting lost amid colourful designs and branding.

The government wants to stop cigarette companies from using their packs as tiny ads for their products, insisting even on a single shape and design for the packs themselves – meaning soft packs are out, as are creative designs with bevelled edges and any other distinctive features.

Health Canada picked the same dark brown for the packages as Australia did for its tobacco products a few years ago, one identified by market researchers as the ugliest colour in the world. Several European countries have used the colour as well.

“Packages with darker colours were perceived to be more ‘harmful to health’ and their products ‘harder to quit,’ in contrast to packages with lighter colours,” the department said in a summary of the plans.

Health Canada said there could be a shortage of the new packs in the early going as a very limited number of suppliers retool to make just one design instead of many different ones.

The regulations released May 1 also standardize the size and appearance of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products inside the packages.

Specific rules have been awaited since Parliament passed a law requiring them last fall, joining 13 other countries that have adopted similar measures.

The new rules are part of a larger strategy aimed at driving the rate of tobacco use among Canadians down to five per cent by 2035. Federal statistics show that in 2017, 18 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 said they used tobacco in the previous month, an increase of 15% from 2015.

The Canadian Cancer Society praised the government’s regulations, calling them “the best and most comprehensive in the world.”

On the flip side, the industry association representing convenience stores said plain packaging increases the appeal of contraband tobacco products and makes them harder to distinguish from legally marketed ones.

“Instead of addressing the 20% of tobacco that is sold illegally in Canada, government is adding one more burden to law-abiding retailers who don’t sell to minors, comply with display bans, and partner with government to collect and remit most of the $9 billion in tobacco tax revenue every year,” Anne Kothawala, president of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, said in a statement.

Representatives from the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association agree, saying the new rules will hurt small businesses.

“The only way the government can guarantee this will occur is if the law is applied equally to all products being sold and purchased in Canada, including the up to 40 percent of illegal tobacco consumed in Ontario today. To date, this government has shown no willingness to crack down on illegal manufacturers,” stated OKBA spokesperson Kenny Shim. “The booming black market of illegal, unregulated, and untaxed products not only leads to a loss in market share for our members – it also leads to a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in government revenue, contributes to the funding of organized crime, and further compromises Canadian public health by introducing unregulated products to the market.”

The convenience industry has long advocated that plain packaging is not an effective tool to reduce smoking. In its recent eNewsletter, CICC stated: “We were successful in one key area: standardized packaging (slide and shell) will not happen for another 24 months for manufacturers, with retailers being given an additional three-month transition period to comply. On plain packaging, a few technical issues arose out of last week’s regulations that the CICC is working to clarify. We will be providing comprehensive information to both wholesalers and retailers in the coming weeks to help prepare them for this significant policy change.”

With files from Michelle Warren