Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Breathalyzer yanked from pub

Non-profit has no link to burn fund

  • Print

A coin-operated breathalyzer machine in Winnipeg pubs is supposed to raise money for burn victims, but is raising a lot of questions instead.

"We're not sure if the money's going to charity," said King's Head Pub owner Jay Khanuja. On Friday, he had the Burn Victims Aid Society machine unplugged and was waiting for it to be removed from the tavern.

The other concern was whether the machine could accurately read someone's blood-alcohol level, he said.

"We do a lot of charities," he said, such as raising money for the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation and breast cancer research at the pub.

When the Burn Victims Aid Society representative contacted him, Khanuja said he believed they were connected to a local burn fund. He agreed to have the breathalyzer put in Nov. 1. When he learned that wasn't the case, he decided to send the machine back.

"It's too gimmicky," he said.

The chairman of the Firefighters Burn Fund of Manitoba said the Burn Victims Aid Society didn't contact him about the machines before approaching Winnipeg bars and restaurants to put them in.

"I had never heard of them before," said Martin Johnson, who contacted his board and the firefighters' union. "Nobody had heard of them before, either."

While the burn fund is a registered charity, the Burn Victims Aid Society is not. It is a registered non-profit organization that isn't required to report as much information as a charity. It cannot issue tax receipts.

Johnson found out about the society when a Winnipeg restaurant owner contacted the burn fund to see if anyone knew about coin-operated breathalyzers being used to raise money for burn victims. The restaurateur forwarded an e-mail riddled with spelling mistakes from a woman from the society identified as Jen, saying: "We have done work with the local burn unit and we defeinitely do thinigs to heelp with the community, hence why the guys are helping us with this particular program."

Johnson was alarmed and posted a notice on the Manitoba charity's website: "It has come to our attention that a group that calls itself 'Burn Victims Aid Society' (BVAS) is contacting businesses in Winnipeg with a fundraising scheme involving coin-operated breathalyzer. They claim to 'have done work with the local burn unit and the guys are helping them'. We find no proof that either claim has merit."

The chairman of the society is upset over media reports questioning the accuracy of the breathalyzers and the legitimacy of its philanthropy. "It looks so bad, my girlfriend is bawling," said Julius Zanoni in Edmonton. "I'm embarrassed. It sucks."

Zanoni said the non-profit organization has 10 machines in Winnipeg. He said they decided to put them in Winnipeg because there were none here. They've collected $780 in the last three weeks and he offered it to the Manitoba burn fund, but it refused. He said it will be donated to a Winnipeg charity for children.

Winnipeg police say unless the machine is tested, calibrated, serviced and certified, it won't meet criteria set out in the Criminal Code."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2012 A15

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google