Over the last two years, we have been collaborating with other health stakeholders in our call for a provincial alcohol strategy. Here’s an update on where things stand, expected next steps and for those interested, how you can get involved.
Given our concerns about the potential harms from changes to the government sale and distribution of beer, we were encouraged by the Premier's commitment to developing a cross government alcohol strategy. We were also pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Strategic Initiatives Branch in the Population and Public Health Division, on arrangements for last week’s face to face consultation on the proposed policy.
With the help of Cathy Edwards, Chair of OPHA’s Alcohol Prevention Workgroup, we were able to bring together on February 4th members of our provincial steering committee, including representatives from CAMH, OMA, RNAO, CMHA (Ontario Division), Addictions & Mental Health Ontario, Cancer Care Ontario, Canadian Cancer Society, PHO, CCSA and MADD Canada to discuss the proposed Alcohol Policy with ministry officials; the policy framework focuses on four main pillars: health promotion and prevention, social responsibility, harm reduction and treatment.
During the consultation, we were able to provide feedback on what is working well in Ontario, the current gaps, challenges and opportunities, and how we would measure success. OPHA members called for a range of measures dealing with pricing, advertising restrictions, maintaining the LCBO’s training and sales regime, greater cross government coordination, investing in research and evaluation to track the impact of policy changes including increasing availability, and initiatives to change social norms. In collaboration with our partners in the Provincial Alcohol Prevention Steering Committee, we will be providing more formal written comments to the MOHLTC summarizing our recommendations.
The Ministry has also been consulting with their colleagues from other parts of government, public health, and industry leaders and will report back to Cabinet with a draft Alcohol Policy in the spring, followed by the policy’s implementation.
MOHLTC welcomes your comments at AlcoholPolicyConsultations@Ontario.ca before the end of the month, and/or you may wish to send your suggestions to us or consider joining OPHA’s Alcohol Workgroup so that you can get engaged with other members across Ontario.
Check out the recently released report from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer on the harms associated with Alcohol Consumption in Canada.