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Strategy to push moderation

Province initiates consultations

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The Selinger government kicked off a public consultation Tuesday that will see a new health strategy developed in the coming months to encourage a 'culture of moderation' when it comes drinking.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

The Selinger government kicked off a public consultation Tuesday that will see a new health strategy developed in the coming months to encourage a 'culture of moderation' when it comes drinking. Photo Store

TOO much of anything is bad for you -- and the province wants to put alcohol higher on that list.

The Selinger government kicked off a public consultation Tuesday that will see a new health strategy developed in the coming months to encourage a "culture of moderation" when it comes drinking.

Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said the strategy will look at everything from binge drinking, underage drinking, impaired driving to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

The strategy is being developed at the same time the province is liberalizing liquor laws -- legislation is slated to pass in December -- and is in response to a national study last March that found Manitoba did not have a provincial health plan that includes alcohol as a priority issue.

Rondeau said about 95 per cent of Manitobans drink responsibility -- it's the other five per cent who misuse and abuse it.

He said a strategy to address alcohol abuse will be developed by a committee chaired by chief provincial public health officer Dr. Michael Routledge.

Representatives from government, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, the Manitoba Hotel Association and the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association will sit on the committee.

"If you listen to the politicians, we'll have a simple answer, and you know that if we come up with a very simple solution to a very complex problem, you know it won't work," Rondeau said. "What we're going to do is listen to the experts."

Routledge said he sees his task as giving Manitobans the tools to make healthier decisions when it comes to drinking.

"It's nothing that we're going to fix in six months, but hopefully this is a step in that direction, he said. "We're going to try to step outside that box of just telling people what to do and actually facilitate them making healthy choices," he added.

"We all know this -- the damages from alcohol are real. We just have to figure out the best ways we can develop a strategy."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2013 A3

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Updated on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 6:45 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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