Ontario Newsroom

Ontario Committed to Supporting Safe Consumption of Alcohol

Backgrounder

Ontario Committed to Supporting Safe Consumption of Alcohol

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontario understands that selling alcohol is a public trust, and with that trust must come a strong sense of social responsibility.

That is why Ontario will continue to build on its efforts to raise awareness of the risks associated with the misuse of alcohol to reduce potential harm, and to provide the necessary information to make informed choices when it comes to alcohol consumption.

As the expansion of beer sales is undertaken, the following social responsibility protections will be strictly adhered to:

  • The province will move to rationalize the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) and Liquor Control Board of Ontario's (LCBO) oversight of beverage alcohol to ensure all current and future activities are aligned to support the province's social responsibility goals and priorities.
  • The province will establish and enforce social responsibility standards for any new retailers of beverage alcohol, including: 
    • A limited number of locations will be authorized to sell beer
    • Clear restrictions on hours of sale
    • Limits on volumes sold at the new locations
    • Minimum and uniform pricing for beer
    • Designated sections in stores with access restricted outside of regulated hours of operation
    • Social responsibility training for all employees facilitating the purchase of beer
    • Appropriate check-out safeguards
    • Restricting sales of beer to packs of six or less with no discounts or "pack-up pricing" for multiple purchases.

In addition, the government will continue to develop initiatives to support safe consumption of alcohol, in light of the expansion of alcohol sales in Ontario.

Current efforts that support the province's social responsibility goals include the following:

  • Funding to Ontario's 36 Public Health Units from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to develop local programs and policies to prevent alcohol misuse and associated harms. This includes campaigns to raise awareness about the harms related to alcohol misuse; partnering with primary health care providers to promote screening, brief interventions and referral initiatives; working with partners on local policy development; and developing local health status reports.
  • The Drug and Alcohol Helpline is a 1-800 phone service that provides 24/7, confidential and free information about drug and alcohol services in Ontario and is funded by MOHLTC.
  • An expanded provincial Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which is helping more people access co-ordinated mental health services when and where they need them.  Ontario's strategy includes increasing support to community mental health service partners and the establishment of a Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council.
  • A cross-government Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) strategy is being developed by MCYS. This will include approaches to maximize awareness of alcohol consumption prior to and during pregnancy.
  • The Aboriginal Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Child Nutrition Program supported by MCYS. The program provides healthy lifestyle education, personal support and traditional cultural activities which promote FASD prevention and healthy nutrition. It also produces community resource materials and offers professional development training on prevention and intervention to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal social service providers, educators, justice and medical personnel.
  • The Ministry of Transportation's (MTO) Back On Track program, currently delivered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is an impaired driving education and treatment program. Drivers are required to participate if they have been convicted of an impaired driving-related offence or receive more than one roadside licence suspension for driving with a Blood Alcohol Content from 0.05 to 0.08.
  • The Ignition Interlock Program is overseen by MTO. Drivers convicted of an impaired driving offence are subject to having an ignition interlock condition applied to their driver's licence. In order to comply with this condition, drivers may choose either not to drive during their ignition interlock period, or to enter into a monitoring agreement with one of the ministry's two service providers who will install the device and monitor its use in the vehicle.
  • MTO's Medical Review Program requires that any driver who provides a breath sample that registers a Blood Alcohol Content from 0.05 to 0.08 more than three times must undergo a mandatory medical evaluation. The program will determine whether the driver is alcohol dependent and whether further intervention is needed.
  • MOHLTC's Healthy Communities Fund provides funding to community-based organizations for the delivery of projects that improve health and wellness in their communities, including alcohol misuse prevention.
  • The National Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, which in November 2011 received support from Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and all F/P/T health ministers.  The guidelines promote a culture of moderation and provide consistent messaging to promote informed alcohol choices and responsible alcohol use.  
  • Training supports for First Nations mental health and addiction workers in First Nations communities are being developed by MOHLTC.  These supports will build and enhance workers' knowledge, competencies and skills capacity.
  • Supporting alcohol and harm reduction initiatives through four of Ontario's Health Promotion Resource Centres. The Mental Health and Addictions Project (CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre), the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre and the Health Promotion Capacity Building-Alcohol Policy HPRC are funded by MOHLTC; and the Best Start Maternal Newborn and Child Health Promotion Resource Centre is funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS). These centres provide support and expertise to public health, health promotion and allied health organizations on a variety of health issues including the safe consumption of alcohol. 

The LCBO operates numerous social responsibility initiatives which could be expanded to new retail channels, including:

  • LCBO works in partnership with social responsibility and public health groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to develop and provide information about responsible alcohol consumption.
  • LCBO has a comprehensive training program that teaches staff about Ontario's laws, responsible service and related judgment calls, alcohol issues, and how to identify potential problems and handle them effectively. 
    • In 2013-14, the LCBO challenged over 11 million people who appeared underage, intoxicated, or were suspected of purchasing for a minor or intoxicated person.  More than 414,600 people were refused service, largely for reasons of age.
  • LCBO's Check 25 program requires employees to ask customers who look 25 or under to produce valid photo ID.  Program signage and announcements are also found in LCBO stores.

Media Contacts

  • Andrew Robertson

    Minister's Office

    416-327-3754

  • David Jensen

    Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

    ontario.ca/health-news

    416-314-6197

Share