Ontario: Province’s loosened alcohol rules ‘negatively impact public health and safety,’ doctor says


Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, July 8, 2019 2:19PM EDT 
Last Updated Monday, July 8, 2019 4:53PM EDT


Toronto’s top doctor is sounding the alarm on the province’s loosened booze rules, saying the regulations that make it easier to purchase and consume alcohol don’t take health repercussions into account.

A slew of recent measures from the Progressive Conservatives — including allowing alcohol to be served starting at 9 a.m. and plans to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores — will likely have a negative impact on public health and safety, Dr. Eileen de Villa wrote in a report adopted by the city’s board of health on Monday.

Increased access to alcohol leads to a spike in consumption and higher rates of alcohol-related harms, the medical officer of health wrote in her report, which called on the city to do what it could to make sure alcohol sales are expanded slowly.

“Alcohol is a depressant drug,” de Villa said in an interview. “It affects thinking and it affects behaviour and it has a number of other effects on physiology.”

Her report claims, however, that the province doesn’t seem to be taking that into account.

“The province lacks a comprehensive strategy to address the health and social harms of alcohol use,” it reads. “As such, the recently announced measures to increase access to alcohol can be expected to further increase health and social harms, in addition to economic costs related to health care and criminal justice.”

The report notes, for instance, that there is reason to believe that allowing bars to stay open later — which the province is consulting on — has negative effects.

“Later closing times are associated with heavy drinking and acute harms, including violence and injury,” the report reads. “There are also implications for public nuisance issues such as noise, public intoxication, and other crowd-related issues.”

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