Grocery stores not required to warn pregnant women of alcohol risk: OPSEU

"This is a serious public health issue.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto (12 May 2016) — Grocery stores that sell beer in Ontario are not required to warn women that drinking alcohol during pregnancy puts their unborn children at risk, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has learned.

Ontario government uses double standard for alcohol sales 

“Under Sandy’s Law, the LCBO and any other outlets that sell or dispense alcohol are required to post signs warning women that drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects and permanent brain damage to their babies,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “Grocery stores that sell beer in Ontario are not required to post these signs."

“When the Ontario Liberals moved to allow beer sales in more locations, they said grocery stores would have to follow all the same rules as anyone else selling liquor,” Thomas said. “As it turns out, that’s not true. This is a serious public health issue.”

Health concerns related to alcohol major concern

Mark Courtepatte, co-chair of the Hamilton FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Parent and Caregiver Support Group, was told by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that grocery stores are exempt from Sandy’s Law, a 2004 law that amended the Liquor Licence Act to require the warning signs. However, when Courtepatte asked the AGCO, the Attorney General's office and Premier Wynne for any evidence in the Liquor Licence Act or in Regulations confirming grocery stores were exempt, they did not provide a response.

“We’re not opposed to alcohol but we are strongly opposed to the government allowing the sale of alcohol and not warning Ontarians of the risk of the permanent brain damage caused by consuming any amount of any kind of alcohol during pregnancy, " he said. 

“It’s irresponsible for the government to not enforce Sandy’s Law,” Courtepatte said.

Public advocacy organizations concerned

The Hamilton FASD Support Group provides assistance and support for parents, caregivers, and individuals with FASD. Nine out of every 1,000 babies in Canada are born with FASD and it is the leading known case of brain damage among Canadian children.

OPSEU/NUPGE represents 7,000 working Ontarians in LCBO stores, warehouses, and offices in more than 400 communities across the province.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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