Drinking and alcohol-related problems continue to decline in Quebec

Montreal, May 19, 2015.– All indicators show that the relationship between Quebecers and alcohol is improving, people are drinking less, and alcoholism and other drinking-related problems are on the decline. “While we still have work to do, particularly with young people, things are evolving in a positive direction and our efforts are bearing fruit,” said Hubert Sacy, Director General of Éduc’alcool, commenting on the latest research results on drinking in Canada.

In fact, the data on alcohol sales in Quebec and across Canada released very recently by Statistics Canada (1) contain three important pieces of information regarding Quebec:

  • The volume of alcohol sales per capita is the lowest this decade. Per capita alcohol sales by volume in Quebec continued to drop last year, falling to 8.4 litres of pure alcohol a year (8 L in Canada as a whole) from 8.6 L in 2013 and 8.9 L in 2012. This is the lowest it has been all decade.
  • More than eight in ten Quebecers drink alcohol. Quebec remains the province with the largest percentage of drinkers. Close to 83% of Quebecers aged 15 and over drink alcohol (76% in Canada as a whole).
  • Volume of consumption is lower than the Canadian average. For the first time, the volume of per capita alcohol consumption in Quebec is lower than the Canadian average. Quebec ranks 4th among the provinces, with an average annual consumption per drinker of 10.14 litres of pure alcohol (10.54 L in Canada as a whole).

Statistics Canada data are essential for painting a portrait of alcohol sales here and across the country, but the data apply to the general population, not just to those who drink. To complete the picture, we need information on how much alcohol is consumed by people who drink – information that is more accurate and more useful for the purposes of education and prevention. Applying the data only to people who drink, we find that Quebec, which is among the leaders in Canadian alcohol sales (third after Alberta and Newfoundland), falls closer to the bottom of the list (along with New Brunswick, Ontario and Nova Scotia).

What’s more, alcoholism in Quebec has declined since 2002 (2). That year, it was estimated that more than 4% of the population suffered from abuse or dependence problems. In 2012, the figure had fallen to 2.7% (3.3% in Canada as a whole). However, the rate of alcohol abuse or dependence among young people aged 15 to 24 was 9%.

It is worth noting that Quebec is where the most drinkers stick to the low-risk drinking guidelines (3). It is the only province where fewer than 20% of drinkers (19.7%) exceeded the recommended weekly limits, and fewer than 14% (13.7%) exceeded the recommended daily limits.

« The data are very clear: Quebec is looking better and better when it comes to reasonable drinking and, while significant problems persist, we are definitely moving towards a culture rooted in moderation », concluded Éduc’alcool’s Director General.

(1) Control and sale of alcoholic beverages for the year ending March 31, 2014, The Daily, Statistics Canada, May 2015.
(2) Portrait statistique de la santé mentale des Québécois, Résultats de l’Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes, Santé mental 2012, Institut de la Statistique du Québec.
(3) Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS 2013), which was just made public.