Canadians have been drinking more since the pandemic, and liquor laws have been relaxed. Scientists wonder what the long-term effects will be.

All those hilarious boozing alone memes that cropped up during the pandemic lockdown may not be so funny in the long-term if policy-makers don’t address harms associated with increased alcohol consumption, say experts.

According to a new study released by the Canadian Journal of Public Health, there is a strong correlation between exposure to mass traumatic events and increased alcohol consumption and related harms both in the short term and for one to two years after a crisis. However, there is limited evidence available for policy-makers, and this has researchers worried.

Provinces across Canada took different approaches to regulating alcohol and relaxing restrictions during the pandemic. Most provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, quickly declared liquor retailers an essential service. But when P.E.I. attempted to close liquor stores during the initial phase of the lockdown, the public outcry forced officials to reverse that decision.

Vancouver relaxed restrictions on access to liquor by allowing restaurants to offer alcohol for takeout with take-away food, and cut the retail markup on liquor sold to restaurants and bars in order to help keep the hospitality industry afloat, and when restaurants reopened, licensed patios were fast-tracked.

Both North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam have launched pilot projects allowing drinking at selected local parks and public spaces, and Vancouver is considering doing the same.

Dr. Erin Hobin, a scientist at Public Health Ontario and the co-author of the study said that there was no clear, coordinated national guidance for how best to control alcohol during the pandemic, but suggested that a study of how different jurisdictions handled relaxations and restrictions may provide information for better evidence-based policies in the future.

“There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when making decisions about how best to control alcohol during a pandemic,” said Hobin.

Click here for the full article.


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Click here to download ‘The FASD Patient Journey’.

Executive Summary

In September 2018, the Alberta FASD Cross Ministry Committee initiated an FASD Patient Journey Project to examine the current state of FASD services and supports from the perspective of persons with FASD, their caregivers and their service providers. After 120 interviews in 34 communities across Alberta, the project team has captured not only their perspectives on service delivery but their frustrations, ideas, hopes and dreams as well.

These perspectives are captured throughout the report in the form of direct quotations. It is important to include these quotations as they provide a raw firsthand account of the challenges and complexities of FASD. They illustrate the daily struggles of FASD service providers, of caregivers and of persons living with FASD.

After capturing and analyzing these perspectives, the project team has produced recommendations they believe will address the many concerns of the persons interviewed.

For more information, please contact

Randal Bell
Provincial Planning and Capacity Management Provincial Addiction and Mental Health

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NEW YORK — There are many risks that go along with drinking alcohol. For a pregnant woman, those risks can be especially harmful for their unborn child. Despite the dangers, an unnerving survey finds a quarter of young adults are unaware of the threat alcohol poses for a fetus.

A poll of 2,000 British adults between 18 and 25 reveals slightly more than a quarter (26 percent) don’t know health recommendations for drinking while pregnant. When it comes to alcohol, Britain’s chief medical officer says the safest drink for expecting mothers is no drink at all.

Poorly informed

The study was commissioned by the National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFAS). The group which supports families affected by pregnant drinking says few people are getting all the facts about this issue.

Researchers for the OnePoll survey find 49 percent of young adults are getting their information about alcohol use and pregnancy from social media. Just 17 percent correctly know alcohol exposure in the womb can cause more long-term harm than heroin exposure. Such exposure can lead to various fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

“Information is power. It is deeply concerning that so few young people are aware of the dangers,” says Sandra Butcher, of NOFAS-UK, in a statement. “FASD is preventable – no alcohol, no risk.”

Only four in 10 young adults say a teacher discussed this topic with them.

‘Perfect storm’ during the pandemic

The study says beer and liquor sales in the U.K. have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. Advocates fear the lack of proper pregnancy knowledge and rising alcohol use may cause a spike in FASD cases.

Click here for the full article.

by Chris Melore

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A lockdown essential

When we were initially told that we would only be allowed to shop for “essentials” the nation took a sharp intake of breath. Food and drink are essential for life but would snacks, fizzy drinks and alcohol be allowed? When we discovered then these things were still very much on sale panic buying ensued. As UK supermarkets struggled to maintain adequate stocks of alcohol, off-licences (smaller shops licensed to sell alcohol) had to be given a new status as “essential” in order to cope with the demand.

Alcohol was officially classified as an “essential” and a good proportion of the nation breathed a sigh of relief.

Enjoy alcohol responsibly

Those of you who know me understand that I am perfectly happy for food and alcohol (drunk responsibly) to play a part in the average adult’s self-care. I am very much enjoying my carefully chosen lockdown wine. Despite the complex chore of shopping in lockdown I still make sure I actually select our wine with our weekend menu in mind, rather than just grabbing the first thing I come to.

However as it has become clear that the nation’s alcohol consumption is on the rise I have started to think more about an issue close to my heart. Of course if lockdown habits become permanent habits, people’s risk of alcohol related disease in the long term will rise. That’s a worry for sure but there is one health concern where the risk is immediate and potentially catastrophic.

Combine regular drinking with sex and far from making love we could be making misery.

For some people anxiety will reduce libido and obviously for those who live alone sex is not currently a possibility. That brings issues of its own. But for many couples living together in lockdown, sex is something positive amidst all the bad news. On the face of it this seems like a good thing, a helpful coping strategy. However we’re risking something that many people know nothing about and it’s called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD.)

FASD is the overarching term for a range of birth defects associated with drinking alcohol in pregnancy. FASD is not only seen in children of heavy drinkers and alcoholics but others who drink more socially.

There is no treatment and the impact is lifelong and can be devastating.

Click here for the full blog post by Stephanie Fade.

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Hello From the NW Peace FASD Network

Things have looked a little different over the past few months for the staff at the Network. Our office may be closed to the public but we are still working hard! Zoom is an amazing tool for us to stay connected, as I am sure it has been for many. We are striving to continue to meet the needs of our clients, stakeholders and community partners in this unique time.

If you are looking for FASD supports, information, referral forms, etc please reach out to our office via email or 780 533 5461.