Response from the Finance Minister to IFNS letter/NSLC-7 more Agency Stores

July 30, 2014

Dr. Natalie Yanchar, President
Ms. Shirley Ann Burdock, Executive Director
Injury Free Nova Scotia

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Dear Dr. Yanchar and Ms. Burdock:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the expansion of the agency store network.
This expansion is designed to add convenience for customers and to support local businesses in
rural areas and not to encourage irresponsible or underage consumption of beverage alcohol.
Please allow me to provide the details of the expansion before we move on to the other issues
you raise.
Government’s plan is to add seven new agency stores to the network in the following
• East Bay/Ben Eoin area -- Cape Breton County
• Cape North area -- Victoria County
• Port Bickerton area -- Guysborough Country
• Brookfield area -- Colchester County
• Peggy’s Cove area -- Halifax County
• Centreville area -- Digby County
• Concession area -- Digby County
The number of agency stores in Nova Scotia has fluctuated since the program was introduced in
2001. Currently, there are 51 stores but there have been as many as 56 over the years. These
new stores will bring the total to 58 agency stores across the province. Please be assured that
these communities were not selected haphazardly. There is an evaluation process in place to
ensure that communities across the province are not over-serviced by agency stores. This
evaluation process also includes a measurement of the distance a customer would have to travel
to access beverage alcohol in a NSLC corporate store or another agency store. The evaluation
process does not stop here; actually, this is just the beginning.
Businesses that are authorized to sell beverage alcohol have very specific responsibilities that
are documented in the Liquor Control Act. Once an agency store is opened, representatives from
the NSLC monitor these businesses to ensure compliance to the Act. These business owners are
mandated by law to ensure the responsible sale of beverage alcohol. The employees in these
stores have access to the We ID responsible sales training, the same as employees working in
NSLC corporate stores. The We ID training program mandates that any customer that appears to
be under the age of 30 must be challenged for valid proof of age. This responsibility is taken very
seriously and the NSLC regularly engages mystery shoppers to check compliance to this program
in corporate stores and also in agency stores.
In addition to the Liquor Control Act, agency store operators are provided with operating policies
and practices from the NSLC. These policies provide guidelines around product pricing to ensure
beverage alcohol is not sold at a price that would encourage over-consumption.
Responsible retailing is more than a legislated mandate to the NSLC, it is a core responsibility
taken very seriously and incorporated into their daily business operations. In addition, the NSLC
partners with key groups encouraging responsible consumption such as MADD Canada. Through
this sponsorship, more than 50,000 students receive a multi-media presentation in high schools
across the province increasing awareness about the potential harms associated with impaired
driving. Each holiday season, the NSLC produces an awareness campaign promoting the
responsible choices made by the majority of Nova Scotians to arrive home safely from their
holiday celebrations. The NSLC has been recognized with over 80 awards by third parties
nationally and internationally for their work in the area of social responsibility.
Most recently, the NSLC has been working with Nova Scotia universities to develop a multiphased,
long-term strategy to reduce high-risk drinking behaviours in the student body. The Keep
It Social campaign was developed in a collaborative manner with representatives from the
university administrations, the student unions and with multiple representatives from the public
health sector. The first phase of Keep It Social has been completed and results have been shared
with the universities. Using the data collected in Phase I, an evidence-based approach is now in
progress with Phase II with an anticipated launch date of fall 2014.
Dr. Tom Workman, a leader on the topic of student engagement in the reduction of harms from
substance use in the US, submitted information about the Keep It Social campaign to the National
Centre on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments Higher Education e-Digest as a best
practice example and it was published in the April online edition. In addition, the program was
presented at the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) as
a leading example on how to bring institutions together in partnership.
Beverage alcohol consumption among our youth is a valid concern. According to the Nova Scotia
Student Drug Use Survey (2012), research suggests that the majority of youth access it through
friends and family making the situation even more difficult to manage. We are aware of the
seriousness of this issue and various government agencies are working together toward a
Please be assured that we appreciate your time and have considered the many valid points you
Original signed by
Diana Whalen
Minister responsible for the
NS Liquor Corporation
C Hon. Leo Glavine, H&W
Hon. Lena Diab, Justice
Hon. Diana Whalen
Minister of Finance & Treasury Board
Provincial Building, 7th Floor
1723 Hollis Street, Halifax, NS B3J 2N3
Tel: 902-424-5720 Fax: 902-424-0635
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