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IFNS letter to Finance Minister Whalen: NSLC - 7 More Agency Stores

Honourable Diana Whalen, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board
Minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act
Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation

June 20, 2014

Minister Whalen,

The recent announcement that you have approved the expansion of seven more NSLC stores
in seven more rural Nova Scotian communities (NSLC stores approved for 7 rural
communities, The Canadian Press, June 10, 2014) raises great concern for our organization
as we pursue lower injury and injury-related death levels in Nova Scotia. Over the past four
years we have increasingly focused efforts on combating the significant harms of alcohol,
and the way Nova Scotians consume it, as we know heavy drinking directly relates to all
major injury vectors, including motor vehicle collisions, falls, suicides, and others,
including, but not inclusive of, poisonings, violent and sexual assaults. We also know the
particular dangers that alcohol presents to the lives of our Nova Scotian youth.
Aware of the system-wide challenges faced by all government departments, with our aging
population and limited revenues, we have worked with diverse partners, within government
and outside it, to heighten understanding within our communities of the harms associated
with our culture of alcohol. We have done so supported by credible and consistent evidence,
from sources international, national, and from our own provincial government. We have
listened to Nova Scotian communities, through their Municipal Alcohol Projects, share their
experience of alcohol harms caused by heavy drinking. We have heard the repeated call for
support as communities seek to address their issues and to strengthen the communities they
call “home”. We have shared with them the consistent evidence that points to
access/availability of alcohol, advertising of alcohol and pricing of alcohol as the areas on
which to focus to begin to lessen community harms of alcohol.
A few of the many sources that have guided our efforts include the following:
The World Health Organization’s Global Alcohol Strategy of 2010 identified addressing
the availability of alcohol through policy work as a key element to reduce the harmful use of
alcohol. The Canadian Public Health Association’s 2011 paper “Too High a Cost - A
Public Health Approach to Alcohol Policy in Canada”, called upon provinces and
territories
“to reduce the physical availability of alcohol through evidence-based and promising
interventions which include a thorough review of retail outlet numbers and density, and
hours of operation for licensed establishments, with the protection of public health and
public safety being a key objective of the review. There should also be a moratorium on new
retail outlets and on increases in hours of operation until these reviews are completed.”
Amidst all our efforts we have called for leadership from our provincial government, - a
government that knows the evidence of alcohol harms, and has shared it. Knowing that
increased alcohol access leads to increased alcohol consumption and that increased alcohol
consumption leads to increased alcohol harms, we see a responsibility for our government to
act.
This announcement of seven more agency stores increases availability of alcohol and in
doing so represents a move in the wrong direction, - a move that will only increase alcohol
revenues at the much higher cost to public health and public safety, negatively impacting us
all, but especially our children.
Please consider the evidence, reconsider this decision and hold a moratorium on new retail
outlets until a comprehensive impact review has been completed. We will be of any support
we can to this process.
Sincerely,
Shirley Ann Burdock
Executive Director
Dr. Natalie Yanchar
President
cc. Leo Glavine, Minister, Department of Health and Wellness
Lena Metlege Diab, Minister, Department of Justice

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Did You Know?

The average age when youth and children start drinking or experimenting with alcohol:

1997 - 15 years old
2007 - 13 years old
2012 - ????