Boundary Creek Times editorial – Sept. 19:Make help available too

The province's call for public input on changes to liquor policy needs some sober second thought.

A website has just been launched to solicit public comment on changes to liquor policy in the province. This is the first time in 25 years that these regulations have been given such a thorough look-over. In announcing the public comment period (which lasts until Oct. 31) the province says it is looking for ideas on how to make balanced, common sense changes to B.C.’s liquor laws. The website — www.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview — has a link to Liquor 101 that is meant to provide a basic understanding of how the system currently works. There are also links to comments from industry and stakeholder groups and then, of course, opportunities for the public to provide their comments. According to the government press release the goal of government’s review is to find changes to B.C.’s laws on the use and sale of beer, wine and spirits that improve customer convenience and grow B.C.’s economy, while ensuring public health and safety. It’s a good bet that by the time the public is invited to offer comment on things like this the general course of the new policy or legislation has already been determined. But according to the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at UVic there are “significant public health, public safety and economic costs associated with alcohol consumption and a commitment to using best available evidence to create modern laws and regulations capable of minimizing these harms.” In other words the government has a duty to make sure that treatment and recovery options are funded. If it is going to be easier to get alcohol it should also be made easier for families and individuals who are adversely affected by the sauce to access help.