From The Waterloo Region Record, by Mary K. Cunningham, September 10th, 2019

Making alcohol more accessible is a bad move, the provincial initiatives to make it easier to buy beer and wine will increase the rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

So Rick Rabba, president of Rabba Fine Foods, sees alcohol sales in his stores as good for business?

It probably is good for his bottom line but as another part of Ontario’s headlong, ongoing, foolish rush to, in his words, “increase choice, convenience and fairness for those who enjoy alcohol and modernize beer and wine retailing,” the results are proving to be increasingly negative. Making alcohol more accessible is a very poor decision on the part of both the Wynne and Ford governments. Here’s why.

The rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in Canada has been shown to be much higher than what those of us who work in the field thought. More access to alcohol will increase it further. FASD is now recognized by experts as our most prevalent birth defect, bar none. In fact, studies from 2014-18 clearly show increased FASD incidence rates of two to four per cent (variation by study sample) and we are starting to realize that FASD or permanent brain damage caused by pre-birth exposure to alcohol in the womb probably surpasses all of the other common birth defects put together. Do we really want more FASD out there, especially when it is largely preventable?

Do our Ontario alcohol purveyors know that at least 40,000 children in Ontario’s schools have FASD? Do they want to add to this problem? Probably not. Junior kindergarten to Grade 4 students with serious behaviour problems are classic, textbook FASD. Students and educators getting hurt at school, classroom chaos and dropping test scores are just three of the many school problems caused by FASD. These children are damaged, not bad. None of this is their fault. To make matters worse, most educators (not all of them) and the Ontario Ministry of Education have no expertise in supporting and intervening with FASD effectively. In Waterloo Region, we wonder why the rates of homelessness have soared. Really? And yet our provincial government increases the availability of wine and beer. (Read more…)