Manitoba government says it won’t raise the legal age for drinking to 19

By on September 14, 2014

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WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government says it has rejected the idea of raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 19.

Rachel Morgan, a spokeswoman for Healthy Living Minister Sharon Blady, says the government wants to focus on more education about the dangers of abusing alcohol for all Manitobans.

She also says they want to legislate stronger requirements for bars and servers to ensure responsible use of alcohol.

The decision comes despite recommendations made in the National Alcohol Strategy and from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse that advocate raising the legal drinking age to 19.

The idea would be to harmonize the legal drinking age with other provinces, and to reduce the number of traffic collisions and alcohol-related crimes linked to young people.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Michael Routledge when it comes to developing a strategy for responsible alcohol consumption, raising the legal drinking age isn’t the most crucial matter.

“As much as it tends to get focused on, there are a lot of more important steps and actions that we can take in terms of reducing alcohol-related harms than looking at the drinking age,” he said. “In some respects, it overshadows more important issues around alcohol.”

Gerald Thomas, a research and policy associate with the CCSA, said the national organization believes that the drinking age in Canada should be 19 in all provinces.

Besides Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec also have a minimum alcohol purchase age of 18 with the rest of Canada set at 19.

Thomas said a uniform national drinking age would address cross border shopping for young adults living near the boundary with provinces that have a lower minimum purchase age, such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“Such cross border shopping has been shown to increase certain types of risks like overconsumption, drinking and driving,” he said.

Second, it would increase the time between when a young person gets full driving and full drinking privileges.

“It has been shown that risks increase when there is less time between these two events,” he said. “Overall, the available research suggested that the acute risk of harm from alcohol for young adults could be lowered if all provinces moved to the minimum purchase age of 19”