Researchers who collaborated on the latest guide on alcohol consumption would like Health Canada to update the information published on its website on this subject.

Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos also believes that the public should have access to the most important recommendation made by the researchers

The Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada in January. In it, he states that scientific findings show that there is no safe limit to alcohol consumption. According to him, drinking only one to two standard drinks a week “represents a low risk”.

The previous Canadian Benchmarks on Alcohol and Health, published in 2011, reported two drinks… a day. This data is still on the Health Canada website.

Duclos says people need to have access to this data online to think about alcohol consumption and their well-being.

“Every Canadian has the right to know what the experts believe,” he acknowledges. Ultimately, it’s up to the people to decide. They must have easy access to this type of information which is important to them. »

However, the Minister cannot promise that the site will be updated. He referred the matter to Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett. A spokeswoman said she was unavailable for comment.

“We believe this task is essential before we put in place the latest tools and methods of communication. »

Bennett did not commit to introducing new federal regulations that would require companies to add new labels to their products, as the group of scientists recommends. In February, she said she hoped the industry would tackle the labeling problem on its own, without being forced to.

Peter Butt, who co-chaired the drafting of the new guide, wants Health Canada to release the latest data to demonstrate government support for the report. He recalls that the latter was funded by Health Canada.

“We are talking about a cultural and political transformation that will not happen overnight. But you know, people want to see the government do the right things,” he said.

He wants the 2011 guide that recommended a weekly limit of 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks for women to be replaced by the new Benchmarks.

“I’m sure Health Canada has to digest the new guidance, just as individuals have had to,” adds Dr. Butt, who concedes that the latest data raises several questions.

“What do we need to react to this?” What is our responsibility? How do we position ourselves in terms of tolerable risks — economic and political versus what is fair? »

He considers alcohol to be a “complicated product” in the way it is marketed.

He questions Ms. Bennett’s position of wanting to leave this issue to the industry itself.

Vignerons Canada says it is creating a QR code that could be voluntarily placed on a container of alcohol. This code would send consumers to a site that would contain warnings about the dangers of alcohol, including long-term mental health risks and potential negative effects on a relationship.

Dr. Butt compares this strategy to “advertorials” on the Internet that are more about advocating for the financial interests of industry than providing information to consumers.

“Alcohol is no ordinary product. He has a story. It fits into our culture. There is an economy around it,” he says.

Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, points out that the latest Benchmarks are grounded in science. They could be used to implement policies to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol consumption.

“I really hope that Health Canada will take an active role on this,” he said of the need to publish the Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction guide.