The push to ban tanning beds for Ontarians under 18 will kick into high gear this fall, the province's Liberal government says, with the goal of passing the ban into law by the end of September.
All three political parties support legislation to prohibit minors from using tanning salons, but the bill has long been delayed for procedural reasons. When the legislature resumes sitting on Sept. 6, the Liberals say they will move a motion to force a vote on the matter before the end of the month.
"When the House returns next month, our government will move a programming motion and, if necessary, a time allocation motion, in order to quickly pass this life-saving bill into law by the end of September," Government House Leader John Milloy said Thursday in a joint statement with Health Minister Deb Matthews. "We have a responsibility to the people of Ontario to make the Legislature work and to help young people in their everyday lives."
The ban was first proposed by New Democrat health critic France Gelinas in a private member's bill. She tried multiple times to get the legislation through parliament, without success. Finally, last fall, the Liberals agreed to adopt the ban. However, the bill died when former premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued parliament last October.
The Liberals revived the legislation in the spring, but that bill languished on the order paper and never became law.
The government blames the opposition for taking too much time debating other bills, not allowing the tanning bed legislation to move forward. The opposition parties, however, accuse the Liberals of not making the tanning bed ban a priority and allowing the issue to remain on the back-burner earlier this year.
The Tories maintain that they were willing to make a deal that would have seen the bill move forward, but could not reach an agreement with the other parties.
"We support the legislation but we cannot control how the Liberals choose to prioritize the government's legislative agenda," a Tory spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail.
The ban, which is aimed at cutting the skin cancer rate, also bans the marketing of tanning beds to under-18s and requires that tanning salons inform medical officials of their locations.
Salon owners could face fines for breaching the law.
According to government figures, the use of tanning beds by teens has risen significantly in Ontario over the last few years, as have rates of skin cancer.