Free Our Beer related Harm

beerThe OCSA continues to lobby for changes to the Liquor License Act that would allow the sale of beer and wine in convenience stores, despite the fact that most Ontarians do not want or need more access to alcohol. The threat of strike action by LCBO employees has provided the OCSA with their latest tactic to reignite the debate.

Opposition to expanded alcohol sales in Ontario is strong, with Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) leading the way, along with support from various health units and community organization.

Research shows that increasing the number of alcohol outlets and extending hours and days of sale are associated with increased consumption, and in turn, increased alcohol-related harms. Alcohol consumption is causally related to more than 65 medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, while also being a significant risk factor in injuries. In British Columbia and Alberta, switching to semi-privatized and privatized alcohol systems has already lead an increase of these alcohol related harms.  The trend here is this:


Proponents of private alcohol sales would have us believe that selling beer and wine in convenience stores is no big deal and just a matter of convenience. But does anyone truly believe purchasing alcohol is the same as purchasing a pack of gum or loaf of bread? Alcohol is no ordinary commodity.

In the debate on increasing alcohol outlets in our community, should we not place public safety and preventing harm in our communities as priorities before convenience or profits?

Author: Claudia R.N.

Registered Nurse working as a Public Health Nurse SMDHU

2 thoughts on “Free Our Beer related Harm”

  1. While I enjoy the post, the alcohol consumption, marijuana, other drugs (you name it) – i all comes down to common sense of the user. I do not believe that we all just plain stupid indulging in using drugs and driving the cars around.
    I believe that if you leave the final decision in hands of educated users it all just be fine. On the other hand you cannot stop the world from using drugs altogether – it is impossible. It is all in our culture, religions, culinary, society – part of being human, using and experimenting with drugs of every kind.

    1. Thanks for your comment Tomasz. You do raise an interesting discussion in that; where does providing information/education around alcohol fit in with policy. The research tells us that you really need both. While information/education is very important so too is policy. The research clearly tells us that by increasing access to alcohol such as would be the case through either privatization or semi privatization i.e. selling beer and wine in convenience stores, leads to increase consumption of alcohol and increased alcohol related harms. I get that many people would say that alcohol availability would not affect their overall alcohol consumption but the fact remains that for a significant proportion of our population this is not the case. Increasing access and availability ultimately leads to increased harms such as injuries, assaults, homicides, suicides as well as risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases in our community.

      To illustrate the effect of policy as an important lever in reducing harms, where would we have been without drinking and driving legislation. Since drinking and driving legislation has been implemented we have seen a considerable drop in impaired driving and its’ subsequent related harm, not to mention that on the most part we no longer view driving drunk with so blasé an attitude as “oh well” or worse yet “ have one for the road”… We really need to look at how we create supportive communities and reduce alcohol related harms, as it is not only the person drinking that is affected by their alcohol use.

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