The 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:
INCREASED AVAILABILITY = INCREASED CONSUMPTION = INCREASED HARMS
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?