Craft beers should now also be allowed in grocery stores, says columnist. (Contributed)

MacDuff’s Call: Province cares more about beer drinkers

Simple solution is for government to make fair access to alcohol sales market.

Addiction comes in all forms and many are socially acceptable.

I will be the first to admit that I am addicted to coffee. I get a headache in the morning if I don’t get my first cup into me within 15 to 30 minutes of waking up. I obsess on getting it when I am in need of one and it is the one staple that I will never allow to run out in my household.

And although coffee is a mild addiction in the grand scheme of them, it still warrants countless health studies to determine the impacts of over-consumption. The pendulum seems to swing with each study as to whether it is good for us, or not.

However, being a true addict, I tend to be selective on the studies that I believe, because of the fact that I like drinking coffee way too much to even consider giving it up.

However, I don’t feel alone, as I find even the government has tendencies somewhat like mine, as it, too, likes to pick and choose which studies to pay attention to and which ones to ignore if the conclusions don’t serve its end – especially if that end is tied to revenue.

For instance, recently, B.C. Att. Gen. David Eby stated that his government is not interested in expanding alcohol availability into the grocery stores that have licenses to sell B.C. wines.

A response from him prompted by the recent agreement between Canada and the U.S. – that the trade deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico known as CUSMA – no longer permitted the former to deny international wines access to Canadian grocery store shelves, if Canadian wines were allowed.

Immediately, local craft beer producers and enthusiasts put the challenge forward that craft beers should now also be allowed, as the previous position of them not being allowed, because of their ingredients not been solely locally sourced, was no longer defensible in the face of international products now being allowed to be sold in licensed grocery stores.

Eby could have given consideration to this, but instead, pulled the addiction card and shut the craft beer industry out of the stores.

Eby was interviewed about the subject multiple times and he continually made references to health studies about B.C.’s concerning track record for alcohol abuse and hospitalizations from over-consumption.

He mentioned that binge drinking was on the increase and that B.C. has become the worst province in Canada for hospitalizations as a result of alcohol.

He was adamant that his government wants to see less consumption, not more, so the craft beer industry is out of luck, because allowing it into the existing licensed grocery stores, based on Eby, will move alcohol consumption in the wrong direction.

Eby’s comments could have been taken seriously if the government announced in the same breath that it would immediately review the rationale for having wine sales in grocery stores, now that the advantage to the local wine industry had been lost.

After all, if alcohol is a problem, it is a problem, and the government should take reasonable steps to reduce such when given the opportunity.

As it stands now, over-consuming wine drinkers have better access to the market, but over-consuming beer drinkers are restricted.

I guess beer drinkers could take that to heart and be grateful that the government cares more about their addiction than that of the wine drinkers

But I doubt that’s comforting to the beer producers who know the wine industry is a formidable competitor for the consumers’ money.

READ ALSO: How we are going to fund health care in B.C.

Presently, the sale of alcohol across Canada is split between beer, at 41 per cent, wine, at 37 per cent. All other alcohol is at 23 per cent.

A simple solution the government could have considered would be to allow the beer industry into the stores, but retain the existing floor space requirements within the store licenses and ensure that it be shared equally.

This provides fairness in the market for the beer producers and reduces product availability, which the government apparently wants to achieve. Problem solved – at least within the realm of allowing fair access for all to the market.

However, this does not address alcohol addiction, which the government and the public should rightly be concerned with.

The public would be better served if the government developed a strong public health platform, including a robust alcohol consumption reduction program, as that approach has proven effective in reducing alcohol consumption in countries that have adopted such methods, such as the Netherlands and Portugal.

But then, government would have to give up its addiction to the tax revenue that comes with alcohol sales – $6.1 billion annually into government coffers in Canada.

I know how hard it is to give up my addiction, but then I only have myself to hurt.

The provincial government, with its addiction to ‘addiction taxes,’ those applied to tobacco and alcohol, is hurting us all and it is time to stop paying lip service with trivial moves, like the recent punitive stand against the beer industry, and develop a public health platform that truly takes aim at addiction.

Cheryl Ashlie is a former Maple Ridge school trustee, city councillor, constituency assistant and citizen of the year, and currently president of ARMS.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Co-habitating with bears

Maple Ridge is home to a large bear population, and there are tips available to help avoid conflict

TIME IS RUNNING OUT: Readers invited to share wildlife photographs

Aim, snap, shoot, and share your pictures of wildlife in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to win!

LETTER: All Washington plate owners can’t be Canadian residents

A Maple Ridge man questions presence of U.S. vehicles in the Canada, despite closed borders

Residential real estate market rebounding well: long-time realtor

House prices, sales, and listings in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are moving on an upward trajectory

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are prepared for high Fraser River levels

Peak numbers are expected to be below trigger levels for both cities

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Fraser Valley Bandits, CEBL bringing pro sports back later this month

Abbotsford-based basketball team kicks off CEBL Summer Series on July 26

Family and friends mark birthday of teen who died after being discovered in Langley park

Carson Crimeni suffered an apparent drug overdose, his final moments broadcast on social media

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Most Read