University of Victoria researchers examining risk mitigation in provincial and territorial alcohol regulations have given B.C. a failing grade. Yet earning the D-minus is enough to put the province in second place, behind Ontario, for its harm minimization policies in the country.
The study, published by UVic’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, based its grades on policies to “reduce the harms and economic costs from alcohol use.”
When compared to the “gold standard best practice” in alcohol policies, B.C. scored poorly, earning Fs in nearly half the categories identified, including pricing and taxation. The institute recommends the province raise the price of alcohol annually to keep in line with inflation and to prohibit discounts on pitchers based on volume.
Other policy recommendations include raising the minimum legal drinking age, developing screening and referral guidelines for healthcare settings (both in person and online) and mandatory pre-screening of all alcohol ads. Another suggestion asks to get rid of “ferment-on-premise outlets” which it says encourages bulk sales of inexpensive alcohol.”
“There are serious risks to our public health and safety from the new tendency to treat alcohol as an ordinary commodity like milk or orange juice,” said the project lead and CISUR director Dr. Tim Stockwell in a release.
Ontario had the best score with a solid D grade, although signs for the province may be pointing downward. “From the view of health and safety, the ugliest developments can be found in Ontario, where minimum prices have been slashed and free alcohol in casinos can now be publicly advertised, among several other backward steps.”