Strategies to reduce alcohol-related harms and costs in Canada: A comparison of provincial policies

Norman Giesbrecht, Ashley Wettlaufer, Stephanie Simpson, Nicole April, Mark Asbridge, Samantha Cukier, Robert E. Mann, Janet McAllister, Andrew Murie, Chris Pauley, Laurie Plamondon, Timothy Stockwell, Gerald Thomas, Kara Thompson, Kate Vallance


Giesbrecht, N., Wettlaufer, A., Simpson, S., April, N., Asbridge, M., Cukier, S., Mann, R., McAllister, J., Murie, A., Pauley, C., Plamondon, L., Stockwell, T., Thomas, G., Thompson, K., & Vallance, K. (2016). Strategies to reduce alcohol-related harms and costs in Canada: A comparison of provincial policies. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 5(2), 33-45. doi:

Aims: To compare Canadian provinces across 10 research-based alcohol policy and program dimensions.

Design and Measures: The 10 Canadian provinces were assessed on the following 10 policy dimensions: alcohol pricing; alcohol control system; physical availability; drinking and driving; marketing and advertising; legal drinking age; screening, brief intervention, and referrals; server training, challenge, and refusal programs; provincial alcohol strategy; warning labels and signs. Data were collected from official documents, including provincial legislation, regulations, and policy, and strategy documents. Three international experts on alcohol policy contributed to refining the protocol. Provincial scores were independently determined by two team members along a 10-point scale for each dimension, and the scores were expressed as a percentage of the ideal. Weighting of dimensions according to scope of impact and effectiveness was applied to obtain the final scores. National and provincial scores were calculated for each dimension and consolidated into overall averages.

Findings: Overall, the consolidated national mean is 47.2% of the ideal, with Ontario scoring highest at 55.9%, and Québec lowest at 36.2%. Across dimensions, Legal Drinking Age and Challenge and Refusal Programs scored highest at 75% and 61%, respectively, while Warning Labels and Signs scored lowest at 18% of the ideal. Pricing, rated third highest among dimensions at 57%, should nevertheless remain a priority for improvement, given it is weighted highest in terms of effectiveness and scope.

Conclusions and Implications: Policy dimension scores vary among the provinces, with substantial room for improvement in all. Since spring 2013, several provinces have taken steps to implement specific alcohol policies. Concerted action involving multiple stakeholders and alcohol policies is required to reduce the burden of alcohol problems across Canada.


alcohol policies; interprovincial comparison; Canada; knowledge transfer

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