WGC supports drinking in moderation and responsible wine consumption and plays an active role in preventing excessive consumption and misuse of alcoholic beverages in Canada.
The Right Amount
In fall 2021, Wine Growers Canada launched “The Right Amount” initiative to help Canadians make informed decisions about their wine consumption. The Right Amount provides information for consumers on responsible, moderate drinking, occasions when it’s best not to drink at all, and tips for parents talking to youths about alcohol.
The interactive website offers information about serving sizes, alcohol content and standard drinks, including a standard drink calculator. This tool allows consumers to better track their consumption on a daily and weekly basis, to support moderation efforts. Consumers are also encouraged to always drink wine in a moderate fashion, eat before and while they drink, and to alternate between wine and water, other non-alcoholic beverages, or consider a no alcohol or a lower-alcohol wine. Highlighted throughout the website is an important reminder that for some, the right amount is none.
In addition, the initiative offers a whole host of ready-to-use resources for wineries to use to promote the message of moderation. The resources include ready-to-print postcards for use in winery tasting rooms and neck tags for use on wine bottles. Wineries can also find guidance on voluntary standard drink labelling that comply with both Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations and liquor board standards, and a range of digital design resources for use on wine labels, such standard drink information, and QR codes (that lead consumers to The Right Amount website). The website continues to attract thousands of consumers every month, providing wine lovers the information they need to make an informed personal choice and support a positive and health relationship with alcohol.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian wine industry took proactive steps to be key partners in the fight against COVID-19 and its health consequences. Many wineries stepped up to help address the nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer that was of particular concern during the early months of the pandemic. Through their distribution networks, Canadian wineries voluntarily delivered hand sanitizer to those who need it, including to frontline workers.
Wine Growers Canada made efforts to remind consumers that, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than 2 drinks a day or 10 drinks a week for women, and no more than 3 drinks per day or 15 drinks per week for men, balanced with non-drinking days each week.
Through The Right Amount, WGC continues to promote moderation, tracking alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol.
WGC Code for Responsible Advertising and Marketing Practices
In fall 2020, Wine Growers Canada launched its Code for Responsible Advertising and Marketing Practices (WGC Code), a code developed to provide guidance to WGC members and their employees on responsible marketing best practices. It is an essential framework for responsible communication activities to advertise and market the products of WGC members to those of legal purchase age.
WGC members have made a commitment to undertake consumer communications activities in line with this code, including through undertaking measures to ensure their marketing is never directed at those under the legal purchase age and does not portray the consumption of wine in an irresponsible manner. Wineries will uphold their commitments to never direct marketing towards minors through a range of measures, from reviewing audience analytics for media communications, limiting the manufacture of branded goods to adult-only sizes, restricting billboard advertising to ensure it is not in proximity to elementary or secondary schools, and using age mechanisms on social media.
As consumer information channels change to incorporate more digital channels, it has become more important than ever to create this code, by ensuring member wineries continue to market their products in a responsible manner and with the highest ethical standards. WGC thanks all those who participated on our expert working group to develop this code.
National Alcohol Strategy
The consumption of alcohol can have beneficial or harmful effects depending on the amount consumed, personal characteristics including gender, age, body mass, and other characteristics of the person consuming the alcohol. Moderate wine consumption by adults, as part of a balanced diet, is compatible with a low-risk, healthy lifestyle.
WGC plays an active role in preventing excessive consumption and misuse of alcoholic beverages in Canada. In 2005, WGC joined an expert working group co-chaired by Health Canada, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission to develop the National Alcohol Strategy.
The resulting report, Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm in Canada: Towards a Culture of Moderation – Recommendations for a National Alcohol Strategy (2007), sets out 41 recommendations to support the development of a culture of moderate alcohol use and to reduce alcohol-related harm.
In 2008, WGC became a member of the National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Committee (NASAC) which was organized to implement, monitor and evaluate the National Alcohol Strategy recommendations. These recommendations focus on four strategic areas for action:
- Health promotion, prevention and education
- Health impacts and treatment
- Availability of alcohol
- Safer communities
Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
Canada’s National Alcohol Strategy prioritized the development of national alcohol drinking guidelines to encourage a culture of moderation, while promoting consistency and clarity. WGC represent the beverage alcohol industry on the National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Knowledge Exchange Committee, which was tasked to develop and complete Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
For the first time, Canada now has a national set of low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines, endorsed by federal, provincial and territorial health ministers, as well as Wine Growers Canada.
These guidelines, have been developed for Canadians of legal drinking age who choose to drink alcohol, and are intended to provide consistent information across the country to help Canadians moderate their alcohol consumption and reduce alcohol-related harm.
Drinking is a personal choice. If you choose to drink, these guidelines can help you decide when, where, why and how.
The WGC message with regards to drinking and driving has, and always will be, “Do not Drink and Drive”. WGC and our member wineries undertake considerable measures to support moderate and responsible wine consumption. As the national wine industry association, we have taken the lead in creating a drinking in moderation website to educate Canadian wineries and consumers about the importance of consuming wine in moderation. Education is the best means to equip consumers with the knowledge required to make responsible decisions about when, why and how much they drink. WGC member wineries are encouraged to share this website with their customers, in their materials, social media and web presence.
The law in Canada on alcohol-impaired drinking is two-fold. On the one hand, the federal Criminal Code deals with those who have a blood alcohol level of over .08. In addition, each province implements sanctions on those found driving with a blood alcohol level of over the provincial limit – which ranges from .04 in Saskatchewan to .08 in Alberta and Quebec. Measures most effective in deterring repeat offenders are those that are swift, certain and severe, such as provincial sanctions, whereby enhanced short-term administrative sanctions, combined with vehicle impoundment and monetary penalties, are viable, effective means of reducing the magnitude of alcohol-impaired driving in Canada. This combination of federal and provincial measures supports a declining number of individuals driving under the influence of alcohol, and does not place too much pressure on an already overstretched federal court system, with provinces handing out administrative sanctions.