North-end Halifax residents to get new liquor store

Letter to the Editor July 12, 2012

NSLC has plans to operate a second location within a two-kilometre radius in North-end Halifax, reasoning that: “The north end is changing and growing and we need to look at serving it better.”  At first glance this is simply a business responding to the needs of its customers.  But at closer look, that is far from the case.

Let’s clarify.   “Our” NSLC current “revenue-generation” mandate more accurately implies  “The north end is changing and growing and we need to look at serving it MORE”.  Indeed, abundant evidence tells us that density of alcohol outlets increases consumption of alcohol. It also tells us that increased consumption by a community increases the many harms of alcohol experienced by its members, some of the largest being injuries from  impaired driving, assault and suicide.

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.”

We know what to do but we are not doing it.  By increasing outlet density we can expect to see increased harms from the consumption of alcohol.  So, until our NSLC identifies  that it also has a true “public health and safety” mandate, plans such as this one may “serve” more, but consequently will NOT make our communities “better”.

Shirley Ann Rogers, Executive Director                      Dr. Natalie Yanchar, Board  President