Tim Stockwell, director at the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR), gives Canada a failing grade when it comes to using policy to reduce alcohol-related harm. (Photo from CISUR)

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

New research released from the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) has found that, collectively, Canadian provinces and territories have achieved less than half (44 per cent) of their potential to reduce alcohol-related harm.

While B.C. scored slightly higher than the national average, at 58 per cent in the Canadian Alcohol Policy Evaluation (CAPE), researchers are still calling this a failing grade.

READ MORE: Statistics predict Vancouver Island residents will drink more than 12 litres of alcohol in 2020

“Alcohol has surpassed tobacco in terms of being the most costly drug in Canada when it comes to harm,” says CISUR’s Tim Stockwell, the primary investigator for the report and a psychology professor at UVic. “In recent years, we have also seen reductions in the overall effectiveness of alcohol policies in Canada. The two are absolutely linked.”

The CAPE project looked at 11 different types of alcohol policy, including availability, pricing and taxation as well as health and safety messaging. They then developed a gold-standard best practices based on extensive international research, then compared these best practices against those Canada’s provincial, territorial and federal governments had in place as of 2017.

READ MORE: Alcohol consumption on the rise on Vancouver Island

Researchers on the CAPE project are issuing some key recommendations including:

  • a minimum price of $1.75 per standard drink for liquor store sales (sorry buck-a-beer fans) and $3.50 per standard drink for bars and restaurants
  • increased enforcement of impaired driving using civil penalties, especially in the territories
  • independent monitoring of alcohol promotions, including both social and other media
  • introduce risk-based licensing programs to target high-risk bars and clubs which generate the most impaired driving and violent incidents
  • develop comprehensive, well-resourced and evaluated strategies to co-ordinate the implementation of evidence-based strategies

In their review of national policy, researchers concluded the federal government is exercising just over one-third (38 per cent) of its potential to reduce alcohol-related harm through the implementation of effective policy as of mid-2018.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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