The good, the bad and the ugly: New report cards on policies to reduce alcohol harms in Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories

The good: Many proven strategies are available to prevent Canada's 15,000+ deaths, 90,000+ hospital admissions and $15+ billion economic costs caused by alcohol use each year. The great majority (87%) of these strategies are already being implemented in Canada.

The bad: Best practices in alcohol harm reduction are spread very thinly across the country, with 8 provinces and all 3 territories receiving an overall Fail grade in a rigorous national assessment just completed, and a declining national performance since 2013. Revenues from alcohol sales cover only 75% of its economic costs in Canada.

The ugly: From the view of health and safety, the ugliest developments can be found in Ontario, where minimum prices have been slashed and free alcohol in casinos can now be publicly advertised, among several other backward steps.

A new Health-Canada-funded study, led by the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, provides report cards for each province and territory on how well they implement policies proven to reduce the harms and economic costs from alcohol use. Using public records, websites and interviews with government representatives, a team of public health and safety experts from across Canada assessed the implementation of effective policies across 11 areas, including Pricing and Taxation, Physical Availability, Impaired Driving, Marketing/Advertising, Minimum Drinking Age, Liquor Law Enforcement, type of Alcohol Control System and Health/Safety Messaging.

The individual report cards identified many good practices, e.g.

  • World-class minimum pricing strategies in Manitoba
  • Comprehensive new Alcohol Strategy in Nunavut
  • Especially strong impaired driving countermeasures in New Brunswick and P.E.I.

The report cards also identified areas for improvement in each jurisdiction provide specific recommendations. You can read the report cards here:

| BC | AB | SK | MB | ON | QC (EN) | Qc (Fr) | NB | NS | PE | NL | YT | NT | NU |

"There are serious risks to our public health and safety from the new tendency to treat alcohol as an ordinary commodity like milk or orange juice," says the project lead and CISUR director Dr. Tim Stockwell. “Our report offers all Canadian governments specific advice on how to maintain convenient access to a popular recreational substance while minimising related harms."

The 13 new reports add to two national reports released in February, one evaluating the effectiveness of federal alcohol policies and the other the overall effectiveness of provincial and territorial policies. French versions of the federal and provincial/territorial reports, as well as the Québec summary, are currently available; others will follow shortly.

To learn more about the project, visit

For a list of experts willing to speak to media about findings for each jurisdiction, contact