What signage will your establishment be required to display as “Public Educational Materials” in 2015?

In response to Recommendations #3, #4 and #5 contained in the Final Report, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is considering a requirement that in 2015 all licensed establishments and liquor stores display “social responsibility educational materials” in their premises.

The authority to require the posting of such materials will be contained in section 49.1 of the Act. This section is not yet in force pending industry consultations.

The basis for the government’s new “social responsibility messaging” will be Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines developed by the Canadian Centre for Drink Abuse. Beer Canada, Spirits Canada, and the Canadian Vintners Association all participated in the development of the guidelines. The Low Risk Drinking Guidelines have been adopted by Provincial Ministers of Health across Canada.

British Columbia has a history of voluntary involvement by licensees in promoting social responsibility messaging. Following the Stanley Cup riots in 2011 for example, the Branch ran an anti-binge drinking campaign with its partners at Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health as well as the City of Vancouver. Posters were mailed out to all licensed establishments in British Columbia. While many establishments displayed the posters, some did not.

The feedback from licensees was that large and graphic posters are not a  “fit” with all businesses. Some establishments simply do not have the space, while for others (such as restaurants) a large poster with images of binge-drinking is not acceptable for their atmosphere.

With mandatory posting of educational materials the likely result of the Branch’s deliberations on the Recommendations, the only real outstanding question is what options will be available for licensees to display the information? Clearly a  “one-size fits all” approach is not consistent with the diverse nature of licensed premises.

The signage that is acceptable in a sports bar is different than what will be effective in a restaurant, a stadium, or a liquor retail store. The volume of information, the theme of the information, and how the information is presented are some of the key issues to be considered by the Branch.

Licensees should turn their minds now to what will be the most effective, and least disruptive, way to promote the Branch’s social responsibility messaging in their establishments. Remember, once section 49.1 of the Act takes effect failure to display the required information could result in a contravention notice.

If you have concerns about how this matter is to be dealt with you should be in touch with your industry organization representing your interests.

*Alcohol & Advocacy publishes articles for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice, and persons requiring such advice should consult legal counsel.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.

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