A rigorous approach to the future

Éduc’alcool drew the government’s attention to the consequences of a narrow reading of the recommendations in the Robillard report on the privatization of wine and spirits sales in Quebec, which apparently have resulted from an incomplete analysis.

With regard to prevention, will implementing the Robillard report recommendations make the situation in Quebec better or worse? We believe unequivocally that privatizing alcohol sales, as the report recommends—even partially—would be detrimental.

Éduc’alcool is concerned about what was not said about the fate that the report has reserved for the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ). In its brief, it addressed and destroyed all the standard myths on the subject and invited the government to take this into account in its deliberations.

There may indeed be some potential commercial benefits, and a certain portion of the electorate might be pleased with the notion of “lowering prices,” “reducing administration costs,” and “improving performance.” This is not for us to judge. However, the sale of alcohol is more than a political, financial or commercial issue: it is primarily a matter of public health and safety.

Alcohol is not like other products, the marketing of which is determined solely by the laws of money, the market, supply and demand. And the SAQ is not just any other business or profit centre.

That is why Éduc’alcool believes that the conversation must absolutely occur across the board, throughout the government, well beyond the commissioners’ unfortunately incomplete analysis or an assessment of their recommendations while wearing bean-counter blinkers.

When it comes to alcohol, the state must play a central role, particularly since it is the state itself that must absorb the tremendous costs related to alcohol abuse and dependence.

Éduc’alcool is hoping to be reassured, in the sense that the government will see to it that the future of the SAQ is considered carefully and rigorously, from every angle. The path to improved performance for the SAQ cannot and must not lead through the increased privatization of alcohol sales.

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