Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Editorial News
Classified Sites

Brandon Sun - ONLINE EDITION

Single beers fuelling addicts

It's the cheap solution for the impoverished

Single-can sales of cheap beer are a staple of low-income alcoholics. Manitoba has adjusted prices based on alcohol content to address this.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Single-can sales of cheap beer are a staple of low-income alcoholics. Manitoba has adjusted prices based on alcohol content to address this.

Every morning at beer vendors in the inner city and other disadvantaged parts of town, breakfast clubs meet as early as 9 a.m.

But there is no eggs Benedict or Belgian waffles at these get-togethers, just a couple of cheap, low-end beers for underprivileged alcoholics to get their morning buzz.

Individual cans or bottles of beer have been for sale in Manitoba for several years and they're now the fastest-growing segment in the province.

Of course, these sales aren't entirely super cans of Molson Dry and Colt 45. A significant proportion are imports and specialty beers, which well-to-do beer connoisseurs mix and match.

There's no question the city and province want to reduce public drunkenness, particularly downtown, but the most obvious potential solution to reducing the availability of cheap beer to alcoholics -- taking the individual cans and bottles off vendor shelves -- has the potential to make things worse.

Jim Rondeau, minister of healthy living, seniors and consumer affairs, said he's afraid that might lead to addicts turning to mouthwash and hand sanitizer to escape reality.

"Removing the product might not solve the problem. A knee-jerk response might create a bigger one," he said.

Rondeau said he will solicit the counsel of experts in the fields of alcoholism and addictions to figure out the best course of action.

Gerald Thomas, senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse in Ottawa, said it's no secret people who drink heavily gravitate to the cheapest alcohol.

"People who are economically disadvantaged will try to get more bang for their buck," Thomas said.

Manitoba has been one of the leaders in tackling the problem during the last couple of years. The province adjusted the price on beer and certain liquors based on their alcohol content -- the more alcohol in the bottle, the higher the price.

Previously, you could get a 12-ounce, five per cent alcohol beer for the same price as an eight per cent alcohol malt liquor in the same-sized bottle.

"When you raise your minimum price on alcohol content, you get rid of that cheap source, so you create a really solid floor," Thomas said.

But it's not just cheap beer that addicts are attracted to; they're also partial to potent varieties of sherry, he said.

"If it's in the system, they'll find it," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media