MADD Canada

MADD Canada

July 18, 2005 14:51 ET

Praise for Ontario Government's Alcohol Policy Direction

MADD Canada praises Ontario Government's reaction to the review of the Province's alcohol distribution and retail system Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ON--(CCNMatthews - July 18, 2005) - MADD Canada is very pleased with the initial reaction of the Ontario Government to the recommendations that have been released today by its Beverage Alcohol System Review Panel.

Andrew Murie, MADD Canada's CEO says, "It is clear that the Panel has reviewed the Province's alcohol distribution and retail systems from a business case perspective. What we have heard from the Minister today is a reaction that places the public health and safety as a priority. We are pleased with the Government's proposed course of action."

Mr. Murie says, "MADD Canada praises the Government for restating today, emphatically, that the LCBO is not for sale; that the LCBO would not be restructured as an income trust; and that beer and wine would not be made available in corner stores. These policy statements are made with the public's best health and safety interests at heart - and we commend the Government for focusing on the public good in making these important policy decisions."

MADD Canada was a participant in the Ontario Government's stakeholder consultations on reviewing the Province's liquor laws. The organization was a signatory to a submission to the panel from a partnership of health groups that included the Addictions Ontario (AO), Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa), Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), Ontario Drug Awareness Partnership (ODAP), Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA), Parent Action on Drugs (PAD), and Toronto Public Health. These groups jointly made the following recommendations:

1. As a top priority, Ontario should retain intact its public monopoly on alcohol distribution and retail alcohol sales. The expanded public monopoly should be extended to include beer and certain wine stores, and its activities re-balanced to moderate its current marketing emphasis and to take greater account of public health and safety priorities.
2. Provincial alcohol taxes should be increased by 10-20% in the short term to improve public health and safety and to increase government revenues derived from alcohol. The flat tax on beer, which has cost Ontario an estimated $177 million in foregone revenues, should be eliminated. The preferential tax treatment afforded to beer, which may currently be contributing to elevated death and injury from alcohol-related vehicle crashes, should be eliminated in favour of uniform tax policies for all alcoholic beverages more similar to those currently applied to spirits.

MADD Canada will continue to contribute to the Government's effort in establishing new Ontario liquor laws. Mr. Murie states, "We trust the elected representatives will now look at the rest of the panel recommendations and ensure they bring forward laws that will be responsible to the public good. From its initial reaction, we believe the Government will bring forward a thorough legislative reform package that will have public health and safety as one of its primary concerns."

For more information:
Andrew Murie, MADD Canada's CEO (via cell. at Queen's Park) (416) 720-7642

Background Note / General Comments re: MADD Canada's Public Policy Agenda

Andrew Murie, MADD Canada's Chief Executive Officer comments on the organization's policy statements:

-- MADD Canada takes policy stances involving traffic safety laws and alcohol regulations that will reduce motorists' risk of being involved in an impaired driving crash. Therefore, MADD Canada fundamentally opposes any policy that increases the risk of impaired driving incidents on our roads.

-- Scientific research demonstrates that increasing the availability of alcohol, for example through reductions in price, increases in numbers of outlets, or divesting control of alcohol distribution to the private sector, will act to increase alcohol consumption and problems - including impaired driving incidents.

-- And the results of increases in consumption are clear. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) researchers recently published findings showing that a 1-litre increase in alcohol consumption per adult in Ontario resulted in an 8-14% increase in the drinking driver fatality rate.

-- Therefore, we cannot accept any of the panel's recommendations that would increase the available of alcohol products or weaken the Government's control of distribution and retail systems in the Province.

-- MADD Canada's impaired driving policies are based on empirical evidence. Because experience suggests the incidents of impaired driving increases as alcohol products are made more readily and easily available, MADD Canada is against more liberal alcohol policies. Scientific evidence is clear on the issue that control of alcohol availability -- over such things as price, number of outlets, and the maintenance of a public monopoly such as the LCBO -- is the most effective way to control alcohol problems and prevent their increase.

-- For MADD Canada, drinking is a private matter - but, drinking and driving is a public concern. Any person attempting to dismiss or marginalize our arguments by labeling the organization a temperance group is only purposefully misrepresenting the facts. MADD Canada's internal policies show clearly that the organization is not a temperance movement - but one clearly focused on ensuring people do not drive while impaired.

Contact Information

  • Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer
    Primary Phone: 416-720-7642
    Secondary Phone: 800-665-6233 ext. 224