Question Period Note: Comsumption of Alcohol-Related Harms


Reference number:
Date received:
Dec 21, 2023
Health Canada
Name of Minister:
Saks, Ya'ara (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions


Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance among people in Canada. Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for a broad range of diseases and conditions including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), heart disease, and cancer. While alcohol use is normalized in Canadian society, it accounts for substantial health and social costs.

Suggested Response:

Our Government acknowledges that alcohol use is a serious concern for public health and safety, affecting individuals and communities. We are committed to addressing this issue with compassion and care.
Our actions to address alcohol-related harms are guided by the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which takes a public health approach to addressing substance use. This includes supporting research, public awareness activities, development of guidance, and monitoring trends in alcohol consumption and harms.
We are committed to supporting evidence-based research, learning about best practices and engaging people across Canada to inform our future policy direction to address alcohol-related harms.
Our Government provided funding to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) to update the 2011 Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The new Guidance on Alcohol and Health, released in January 2023, provides updated evidence on health risks associated with alcohol use.
Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health report contains policy recommendations for labelling alcoholic beverages, such as the number of standard drinks in a container.
Health Canada has studied the recommendations and will engage people across Canada to help inform its approach on the best way to communicate the risks of alcohol.
Our Government is aware that some countries are introducing alcohol warning labels to provide health and other information at the point of sale.
In Canada, alcohol beverages are required to carry certain labelling, such as common name and net quantity.
Alcohol labelling is recommended by the World Health Organization to increase awareness of the harms of alcohol consumption and help consumers make informed decisions.
Health Canada is monitoring the issue and will continue to engage people across Canada on how to better inform the public about alcohol-related harms.IF PRESSED ON HILL TIMES ARTICLE RE: EVIDENCE-BASED SOLUTIONS …
The Government of Canada welcomes the findings of the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI), and its recommendations on how to improve the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention and reduce suicide rates in Canada (June 8, 2023). The recommendations will help inform our activities in the development of the new National Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
We know that certain populations and communities are disproportionality represented in suicide mortality rates and that tailored evidence-based approaches are needed.
We are committed to collaboration and ongoing engagement with all partners, including Indigenous partners, to enable the co-development of actions that will have the greatest impact within communities



Additional Information:

Alcohol incurs the highest substance use-related costs to society. In 2020, the economic burden of alcohol use in Canada was estimated to be greater than $19 billion, with $6.27 billion spent on health care.
In 2020, there were over 117,870 hospitalizations, 17,000 deaths, and over 652,000 emergency department visits due to conditions caused by alcohol use in Canada.
Alcohol use is a causal factor in over 200 diseases and conditions, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), heart disease, and seven types of cancer, even at low-drinking levels.
Nearly 6 million people in Canada aged 12 and over (16.6%) report heavy drinking at least once a month. One in 5 people in Canada aged 15+ met the criteria for alcohol use disorder in their lifetime.