Focus should be on building the current system which protects public safety and meets the needs of customers.
Winnipeg (21 May 2013) – MADD Canada recently released a policy paper called Provincial Liquor Boards: Meeting the Best Interests of Canadians. The paper supports the role of provincial liquor boards and outlines the negative health and public safety impacts associated with privatized alcohol sales.
Liquor operations in Canada
Most Canadian provinces operate through provincially-run liquor boards which oversee the distribution and sale of alcohol. Alberta is the only province where alcohol sales are carried out solely by private retailers, while others like Quebec and British Columbia employ semi-privatized systems.
"Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity, shouldn't be sold as one"
In places like Manitoba, there has been political pressure from the business community to allow alcohol to be sold in convenience stores and other retail locations – something MADD Canada chief executive officer Andrew Murie says is a mistake.
"There are some who suggest there is no negative impact of selling alcohol alongside pop and milk, but the research and experiences in Canada and other countries tell a very different story. Alcohol is no ordinary commodity and it should not be sold as one."
Alcohol is linked with more than 65 medical conditions and is a contributing factor in injuries and deaths caused by illness, impaired driving, homicides, suicides, falls, drowning, assaults, fires and other adverse events that threaten public safety and community well-being.
Research shows increased problems relation to privatized alcohol sales
The policy paper outlines Canadian and international research which clearly and consistently shows the privatized systems result in increased access to alcohol, which in turn leads to increased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related societal problems. In British Columbia, for example, researchers found that areas with more private stores than government-run stores had significantly higher rates of alcohol-related deaths involving local residents. There was a 27.5 per cent increase in alcohol-related deaths for every extra private liquor store per 1,000 British Columbians.
Provincial liquor corporation model best way to regulate sales
"MADD Canada strongly supports the provincial liquor corporation model as the best way to regulate sales of alcohol," Murie said. "These models are the best choice for protecting the public interest while meeting consumer needs. The focus should not be on deregulation of alcohol sales, but rather on maintaining and building on the current system which protects the safety of Canadians while meeting customer needs."
Provincial liquor boards regulate access to alcohol through outlet locations, limits on hours of operation, minimum pricing and taxes. Provincial liquor boards have intrinsic controls, comprehensive staff training programs and extensive social responsibility programs to protect the public and prevent the sale of alcohol to minors and intoxicated customers.
MADD Canada's position widely held around the world and in Canada
MADD Canada’s stance supports the views of the World Health Organization, Canada's National Alcohol Strategy and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health which have all stated government-controlled systems of liquor sales are the best option for controlling alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm in society.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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