Saskatchewan is on the map when it comes to both alcohol consumption and drinking and driving. In much the same way that Florida is a hot spot for drunk drivers in the USA, Saskatchewan is well known for some of the most tragic drunk driving crashes in Canada. It’s also got a large population of people with a fairly cavalier attitude toward drunk driving.
With that in mind, is it a good idea for a province that like, one with an existing drinking and driving problem, to privatize liquor sales? Maybe not, but it seems like a done deal, as SLGA has begun laying off employees and the entire province makes the slow and steady move toward privatization.
What will happen when the torch for liquor sales passes to retail establishments in Saskatchewan is anyone’s guess, but if the privatization of liquor in British Columbia is any example, there’s going to be alcohol readily available for purchase at more locations with extended hours. If you also look at BC as an example of what happened after privatization, there’s going to be an increase in drunk driving too.
According to the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC), researchers found a strong link between how many liquor stores were open and how many injuries and death were caused by alcohol. They took a look at data collected over five years, from 2003 to 2008, and found that alcohol consumption increased substantially after the transition from government run to private liquor stores. They also found that for every twenty percent increase in private store placement, there was an increase in alcohol-related deaths of 3.25 percent.
It all adds up to more drinking and driving, and Saskatchewan is a province already over run with drunk drivers. But what Saskatchewan does have going for it are harsh drunk driving laws. While British Columbia didn’t bring in their own strict drunk driving laws until 2010, Saskatchewan’s impaired driving penalties with fines, driver’s license suspensions, and all offender ignition interlock program is already in place.
At least in terms of penalties, if there is another increase in drunk driving in the province due to the privatization of liquor, Saskatchewan is ready for it. The biggest hurdle the province still has to overcome are the attitudes toward drunk driving, because it really seems as though the people of Saskatchewan may not be ready for alcohol available at all hours of the day and night.