/Beer nation

Beer nation

By Chad Ingram

During the weekend members of the Fordgovernment either on a coincidental collective whim or at thedirection of the premier posted to social media pictures ofthemselves in convenience stores in their respective ridingspromoting the government's intention to allow beer and wine sales incorner stores.

There are many things Ontarians need.Increased access to alcohol is not one of them.

In the case of HKLB MPP Laurie Scott'sbeer-in-convenience-stores social media photo it was taken at theJug City in Haliburton Village which many readers will be aware islocated about 150 metres from the Haliburton LCBO. Sorry accordingto Google it's actually 160 metres.

Haliburton Village has an LCBO and aBeer Store. Minden has an LCBO and a Beer Store. There arefree-standing LCBOs in Wilberforce Gooderham and Dorset and LCBOoutlets located in stores in Carnarvon West Guilford Eagle Lakeand Cardiff. It's possible I'm missing some locations from this listbecause there are so many places to buy booze in Haliburton County.

The county is also blessed with twodelicious craft breweries in the form of Boshkung Brewing Co. andHaliburton Highlands Brewing Boshkung now offering a second localretail location. Craft breweries have the flexibility to be openlater and on days when the provincially-controlled retailers areclosed. It varies by time of year but essentially I can buy beerin Haliburton County nine to 12 hours a day on virtually every day ofthe year. That seems sufficient no?

The Wynne government already greatlyexpanded access to booze allowing the sale of beer and wine in some450 grocery stores throughout the province. As part of a 2015agreement between the province and the Beer Store which is mostlyowned by the country's largest brewers the number of grocery storesat which beer and wine could be sold was supposed to stay at thatlevel for a decade. However as Ford seeks to fulfil an electionpromise to put beer and wine in corner stores he's looking to pullthe province out of that agreement meaning it could eventually finditself in court with companies such as Molson and Labatt.

Ford seems to be making increasedaccess to booze a priority something I'm pretty confident mostOntarians were not asking for. Along with lowering the minimum costfor a bottle of beer – the “buck-a-beer” thing – the PCs havealso introduced legislation to let restaurants start serving alcoholat 9 a.m. and to legalize tailgating at sports stadiums. All thisamid coming cuts to health care mental health and addictionservices and public health agencies.

Haliburton County of course is percapita one of the poorest municipalities in province and hasstatistically high levels of substance abuse. A 2011 report compiledas part of the health ministry's Healthy Communities PartnershipProject makes this recommendation for the community: “Developeducation programs and awareness on the risks of tobacco usesubstance and alcohol misuse (targeted to youth and families) andmental health issues in general; as appropriate integrate educationprograms in other school/community activities.”

Anyway . . . where was I going withthis? I can't remember. Somebody pass me a beer.