The Alcohol Workgroup was created in 2002 to develop policy positions on alcohol on behalf of OPHA. Today, the Workgroup’s mission is to strengthen the public health voice regarding the health and safety impact of alcohol-related policy. This is achieved by: (1) monitoring the social and political landscape of alcohol; (2) working proactively with multi-sectoral stakeholders to respond to alcohol issues, and; (3) responding to requests for information on Ontario government legislation, consultation, and policy issues.
The Alcohol Workgroup engages in a variety of activities designed to:
- Participate in advocacy efforts with respect to alcohol at all levels of government.
- Provide information and recommendations to public health.
- Keep alcohol use and its impact ‘on the agenda’ in public health and at government levels.
The principles that guide the work of the Alcohol Workgroup include:
- Evidence Based Controls on Alcohol: Establishing controls on the physical, economic, and social availability of alcohol are effective in advancing public health and safety goals, while benefiting public finances.
- Supportive Environments: Initiatives that foster self-esteem, promote healthy living, and strengthen connectedness help to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms.
- Inclusive Decision Making: Decisions need to be made in an environment that welcomes public discussion, considers a wide range of community groups, and facilitates the development of policies that enhance public health and safety.
Accomplishments to Date
- On March 26, 2019, OPHA in partnership with the Toronto Cancer Prevention Alcohol Working Group hosted ‘The Alcohol State of the Province’ stakeholder meeting with more than 50 stakeholders. The goal of this half-day meeting was to brainstorm a coordinated public health and safety response to recent and anticipated provincial government action on alcohol policy in Ontario, including plans to increase availability in corner stores.
- In March 2019, OPHA’s Preconception Health Workgroup prepared and submitted a letter urging the AGCO to consider updating the signage requirements for Sandy’s law to provide more current and inclusive messaging.
- On March 20, 2019, the Alcohol Workgroup sent an alcohol advocacy package (briefing note, sample advocacy letter, social media messages, harm reduction actions, links to online resources) to all Substance Use, Injury Prevention, and Chronic Disease Prevention managers in public health in Ontario.
- On March 5th, 2019, OPHA’s Alcohol Workgroup Co-Chair Phat Ha and Pegeen Walsh attended a multi-stakeholder consultation on the government’s planned expansion of alcohol retail outlets hosted by the Minister of Finance’s Parliamentary Assistant. We proposed comprehensive and evidence-based recommendations for promoting health and safety, which ranged from: ensuring municipalities have a role in deciding on outlet locations; restricting point of sale marketing; ensuring training of sales staff; increasing investments in enforcement and inspection; raising awareness about low risk alcohol drinking guidelines and harms from alcohol; updating Sandy’s Law signage and ensuring adherence to its requirements; having a surveillance system to monitor change; using the expertise of organizations such as public health, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ministry of Health and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; and supporting a provincial alcohol strategy
- In February 2019, OPHA participated in provincial budget consultations and urged Ontario to adopt a provincial alcohol strategy to mitigate and respond to alcohol-related harms.
- In February 2019, OPHA’s Alcohol Workgroup prepared survey responses to the provincial government’s online consultation on alcohol choice and convenience emphasizing the risks of increased alcohol consumption associated with increased access and availability.
- The workgroup also submitted a letter with regards to Health Canada’s consultation on the proposed regulation of flavored purified alcoholic beverages highlighting the importance of protecting youth.
- Developed sample social media posts to inform how the provincial government plays an important role in shaping alcohol policies.
- Involvement in government consultation regarding the regulation of highly sweetened alcoholic beverages.
- Released an Op Ed and Infograph to raise awareness about the lack of a Provincial Alcohol Strategy in Ontario.
- Participation in a panel session at TOPHC 2018.
- Established the OPHA Alcohol Marketing Subcommittee to reduce alcohol marketing exposure in youth.
- Presentation at OPHA’s 2017 Fall Forum.
- Involvement in government consultation regarding the draft Alcohol Policy Framework.
- Participation in planning a forum to promote awareness and dialogue of effective alcohol policies.
- Supported advocacy work of the Provincial Alcohol Prevention Steering Committee.
- Released three OPHA Issue Series: Alcohol Pricing, Alcohol Marketing, and Alcohol Availability.
- Responded to the announcement of beer sales in grocery stores by writing a letter to the editor, developing a position statement, and meeting with government officials.
- Endorsed a Call for a Provincial Alcohol Strategy.
- Provided Health Units with advocacy tools to respond to increasing alcohol availability.
- Sent letters to local farmers’ markets and municipalities outlining strategies to reduce potential harms from the sale of VQA wines at farmers’ markets.
- Participated in the Provincial Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines Workgroup.
Interested in Joining the Alcohol Workgroup?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the workgroup and ways to get involved. *Must be an OPHA Member to join the workgroup.
Alcohol in the News
Alcohol Labels Can Help Inform Consumers on Alcohol Use
The Truth about Alcohol in Durham Region
Provincial Alcohol Strategy
FCKD UP: Everything Wrong with Alcohol Policy in Canada
Alcohol: A Women’s Health Issue
Alcohol Policy Opportunities for Ontario Municipalities
Impact of Alcohol and Solutions for Change
Alcohol Policy in Ontario Community of Interest
Alcohol and Older Adults
Ongoing Modernization of Retail Alcohol Sales
Product Launch and Promotion of Freedom 35 Beer
Ontario Needs a Provincial Alcohol Strategy
Social Acceptance of Marketing Alcohol
Rethink your Drinking: Sizes Matters
Alcohol Pricing Promotes a Culture of Moderation
OPHA Influencing Alcohol Policy
Chief Public Health Officer’s 2015 Report on Alcohol Consumption
The Power of Persuasion Part 2
The Power of Persuasion Part 1
Why Ontario Needs an Alcohol Strategy
Rethink Your Drinking
Application and Enforcement of Sandy’s Law
Alcohol Sales in Ontario
Provincial Increases to Alcohol Pricing
Increasing Alcohol Access through LCBO Online Sales and Delivery
Seasonal Trends in Alcohol Consumptions
Alcohol and Cancer
Is Alcohol Really Good for Your Health?
Alcohol Use Before and During Pregnancy
Reducing the Burden of Alcohol
Ontario Needs a Provincial Alcohol Strategy
What is a Drink?
Advocacy on Increasing Alcohol Availability
VQA Wine Sales in Farmers’ Markets
Sale of Beer and Wine in Grocery Stores
The Mission & Mandate
The Alcohol Workgroup’s mission is to strengthen the public health voice regarding alcohol policy. The cornerstones of healthy public policy related to alcohol are:
- Effective controls on alcohol: Controls on the physical, economic and social availability of alcohol are not only good for public health, they are good for public finances.
- Supportive environments: Policies, programs and other initiatives should strive to build self-esteem; promote healthy living; strengthen the ability of individuals; families and communities to care for one another; and help prevent and reduce alcohol related harm.
- Inclusive decision making: Policy discussions should acknowledge the unique health and social consequences of alcohol consumption, as well as the economic impact in the province. Current and future decisions need to be made in an environment that welcomes public discussion, considers a wide range of community groups and facilitates the development of policies that enhance public health and safety.”