Implementation of Health Canada’s regulation on sugary alcoholic beverages – INCOMPREHENSIBLE, DISAPPOINTING, AND IRRESPONSIBLE

MONTREAL, May 23, 2019 - Éduc’alcool is very disappointed with health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor’s announcement today that Health Canada will be implementing a regulation on sugary alcoholic beverages—a regulation that the alcohol education and prevention organization describes as incomprehensible and, more importantly, irresponsible.

“None of our recommendations were taken into account. And we weren’t asking for the moon!” says Hubert Sacy, Director General of Éduc’alcool. “We view the passage of this regulation as a slap in the face for all organizations like ours that have tried to protect young and vulnerable people from the misleading and hypocritical messages of sugary alcoholic beverages.”

The only measure in Health Canada’s regulation is to limit single servings of sugary alcoholic beverages to the equivalent of 1.5 standard drinks, which makes no sense to the organization that has been asking the federal government for months to take a common-sense approach and limit the alcohol content of single servings to no more than that of a single standard drink. This recommendation was even seconded by the coroner who investigated the death of Athena Gervais, a young girl from Laval who died from drinking sugary alcoholic beverages. In addition, the regulation has no rules on labeling and packaging, despite the loud and clear outcry in favor of such oversight from numerous public health promotion and prevention organizations.

“It’s plain stubbornness,” says Sacy. “Their measures really aren’t based on anything at all. For us, this is a real missed opportunity in terms of prevention and protecting young people.”

Closed-minded and unwilling to listen

Éduc’alcool also denounces the fact that Minister Petitpas Taylor and Health Canada have turned a deaf ear and appeared unwilling to listen. This has caused the organization to question the government’s true intentions, particularly during the consultation period.

“The regulation coming into force today is the same as those presented before the consultation period, even though multiple groups consulted had more than valid arguments for making changes,” Sacy continues. “I have no idea how Health Canada can justify this regulation. In my opinion, after a year of going through the motions of a consultation, Minister Petitpas Taylor and Health Canada just decided to push their own positions through.”

Éduc’alcool and a number of other organizations have been working hard for more than a year to prevent a tragedy like Athena Gervais’s from happening again.

“This regulation doesn’t protect young and vulnerable people from the misleading and hypocritical messages of these drinks, and if another such tragedy should happen, I hope Minister Petitpas Taylor and Health Canada understand that they had the power to make a difference,” he concluded.