North

More access, but less drinking is Yukon minister's takeaway from Liquor Act consultations

The territorial government consulted Yukoners through an online survey and dozens of meetings about reforming the 40-year-old Liquor Act.

Territorial government consulted Yukoners through a survey and dozens of meetings about liquor laws

The Yukon government survey on liquor sales found a slim majority of people don't think warning labels work. (Government of Yukon)

A round of Yukon government consultations on modernizing the 40-year-old Liquor Act has produced two distinct results, says John Streicker, the minister responsible for the Liquor Corporation.

"They're saying a lot," Streicker said of those who participated. "There's a real diverse range of views."

One example of that divergence is in regards to whether alcohol should be sold in grocery and other stores.

"We heard about trying to increase access for Yukoners to alcohol, but also heard about trying to make sure that how alcohol is sold in the territory, where it doesn't lead to harm," said Streicker.

The results are compiled from an online survey that received 444 responses, as well as dozens of meetings across the territory.

The minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation, John Streicker, says Yukoners want easier access to alcohol, but safer drinking habits. (CBC)

There were questions on a wide range of topics, including the pricing of alcohol, where it should be sold, how liquor laws should be enforced, and what should be done to move toward a culture of socially responsible drinking.

The consultations show strong support for promoting social responsibility. But despite extensive media coverage locally and nationally about putting warning labels on liquor bottles sold at government liquor stores, there's not much enthusiasm for doing that.

Just over half of the respondents said they believe warning labels are not an effective way of promoting safe and moderate liquor consumption.

On the issue of selling alcohol in grocery and other stores, more than 60 per cent support the idea.

The government survey found majority support for both private-sector liquor stores and selling some liquor products in grocery stores. (Yukon Government)

The survey says one area of review includes significant changes to the territory's drunk-driving laws.

Nationally, there has been discussion of removing impaired driving laws from the Criminal Code and replacing them with provincial and territorial legislation that is easier to enforce. That could include tougher fines and driving licence suspensions.

Streicker said an advisory group that has yet to be chosen, consisting of a wide range of people who are engaged on liquor law reforms, will make recommendations.

Their job is to try to find solutions for supporting local producers, promoting social responsibility, dealing with access, pricing and other issues, he said.

Streicker hopes to present a package with a new Liquor Act and new regulations to the legislature in the fall of 2019.

With files from George Maratos