Nova Scotia

NSLC home booze delivery likely to start in late summer without public health assessment

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation expects to start alcohol home delivery later this summer, with mandatory training for drivers and limits on when alcohol can be delivered, but there are no plans to undertake a public health assessment of the new service.

Injury Free Nova Scotia has asked for more study before service begins

A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation said it's implementing a number of measures to ensure home delivery 'is offered as safely as possible.' (CBC)

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation says it expects to start home delivery of alcoholic beverages late this summer, with mandatory training for drivers and limits to when products can be dropped off. 

But the Crown corporation says there are no plans to undertake a public health assessment before the service rolls out, something Injury Free Nova Scotia has suggested.

The non-profit group works to eliminate serious and preventable injuries in Nova Scotia. 

Peri Lockhart, a health promotion consultant with the group, wants to see the NSLC hit pause while experts complete a health impact assessment that she said would be similar to an environmental impact assessment. 

"Some things that can be included is, for example, where alcohol home delivery will include and not include, like, will it include campuses where we have youth of all ages? Will it include other spaces with vulnerable groups?" she told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday.

Lockhart said Injury Free Nova Scotia has heard from other community groups from Yarmouth County to Musquodoboit Harbour and "there's plenty of concern from different areas" about providing more access to alcohol. 

NSLC says strategies 'promote responsible drinking'

Last fall, former Health Minister Leo Glavine had his own concerns about the proposed service, saying at the time that "availability and, very often, excessive consumption go hand in hand."

A spokesperson for the NSLC said the corporation has been working with provincial departments "which recommended a number of strategies to continue to promote responsible drinking."

"With these strategies in place, we do not plan to do a public health assessment," Beverley Ware wrote in an email to CBC News. 

Ware said mandatory training for all delivery staff will help them determine who is underage or already intoxicated. There will also be "responsible consumption messaging with each delivery."

Micco/MBW Courier has been awarded the delivery contract, and will have to track who they refuse and why, Ware said. The delivery program will also be monitored through an audit.

The NSLC said it will make sure the brand name used by Micco/MBW Courier "doesn't promote or imply excessive consumption."

Time limit on deliveries 

There will also be limits on when alcohol can be delivered, Ware said.

Deliveries won't be made before noon or after 9 p.m., there will be shorter hours on Sundays and no delivery on holidays.

Home delivery of alcohol isn't a new concept in Nova Scotia, especially during the pandemic when more private breweries and wineries have used it as a source of revenue with restaurants and bars closed. 

Alcohol home delivery is already available in Nova Scotia from many breweries, wineries and other private businesses. (Emma Davie/CBC)

But Lockhart said that shouldn't stop the NSLC from rethinking its decision.

"The NSLC is different because it's operated by our government and our government has a much broader mandate to protect the health and wellness of Nova Scotians," she said. "Increasing alcohol in the community, facilitated by the government, does not serve the health and wellness of Nova Scotians."

The NSLC already delivers cannabis products through mail order in partnership with Canada Post. 

With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning