Canada’s brewers, who have been committed advocates of the responsible use of their products for decades, today launched Partners for Safer Communities, a joint initiative to promote the use of designated drivers, reduce the incidence of drinking and driving, and prevent underage drinking. Beer Canada is launching this unifying initiative as an industry first for competitors to work together to advance social goals.
“Canada’s brewers have long taken the lead when it comes to encouraging moderation and responsible drinking, and we’ve done it again with this new, one-of-a-kind initiative,” said Beer Canada chairman, John Sleeman. “Partners for Safer Communities is a powerful signal that, although we’re individual brewers in a fiercely competitive industry, there’s strength in putting our differences aside and taking action together to promote responsible drinking.”
Brewers are setting aside normal day-to-day market competition to work together and challenge their employees to participate in a “day in the trade” to promote safer communities through responsible drinking. The national launch will be hosted by Beer Canada president Luke Harford, representing 32 brewers across Canada, who will be joined at the launch by Beer Canada members Charles Bierbrier, founder of Bierbrier Brewery; George Croft, CEO of Brick Brewing; Jan Craps, president of Labatt Breweries; Tommaso Magnotta, general manager, Magnotta Brewery; Stewart Glendinning, CEO of Molson Coors Canada; and John Sleeman, founder and chair of Sleeman Breweries Ltd.
“The beer industry has partnered with police, government, NGOs and transit authorities in the past,” said Sleeman on behalf of Beer Canada, “but we believe Partners for Safer Communities is the first multi-company, co-operative initiative in our industry to address issues of this type.”
Beer industry investments of close to $200 million over the last 35 years have contributed to significant progress in areas such as the change in attitudes toward drinking and driving. Canadian brewers were the first in the alcohol industry to employ research to combat drinking and driving in the 1980s. A focus on the critical aspects of the issues has helped provide the information required to apply resources in areas most likely to have the greatest impact.
Awareness resulting from a variety of designated driver programs and other initiatives has contributed to a decrease in alcohol-related impaired driving in Canada in recent decades. However, Canadians rightfully still regard drinking and driving as a major social problem. Government and independent research confirm that industry and other efforts are having a positive impact on additional aspects of responsible drinking as well.
- Statistics Canada shows the rate of alcohol-related impaired driving incidents in Canada decreased 58% between 1991 and 2014. Another Statistics Canada release in July 2015 reports a 5% decline between 2013 and 2014 – the third consecutive year of improvement.
- According to Health Canada most Canadian drinkers in 2012 – representing over 85% of the total population – drank within the recommended Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
- Another Health Canada survey indicates that underage drinking for Canada has declined from 53% in 2008 to 41% in 2012.
Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), a charitable, independent, road safety research institute said, “Fatalities among younger and drinking drivers have generally declined in the past decade, and more than 80% of Canadians report never driving after drinking. However, reductions in the percentage of road crash fatalities involving a drinking driver have been more difficult to achieve, and this issue remains a top concern among Canadians. To ensure continued progress, education, enforcement and other efforts that reinforce prevention strategies and changes in social attitudes must be sustained and enhanced.”
A 2011 TIRF Road Safety Monitor Report on Youth Drinking and Driving indicates 86% of drivers aged 16-24 agreed or strongly agreed to not being able to drive safely after drinking alcohol; and younger drivers are more likely than their older counterparts to use alternatives such as taking a taxi (42% vs. 18%) or public transit (40% vs. 14%), staying over at a friend’s (34% vs. 14%) or asking someone else to drive (67% vs. 48%).
While the companies are all working on this initiative together, each is striving to put its best foot forward through widespread employee participation.
The launch of Partners for Safer Communities will take place in towns and cities across Canada and involve an expected 1,500 employees from all partners. Employees of the participating brewers will visit close to 2,500 licensees in a united approach to raise awareness of correct ID checking and support servers with tips and materials on carrying out their Duty of Care in the responsible service of alcohol. Teams of employees will also engage consumers, licensees and servers to “take the pledge” that they will not drink and drive.
Sleeman said, “Partners for Safer Communities reinforces that the beer industry is very serious about responsible drinking, safe roads and safe communities. We know it takes a community to make Canada a safer place, and our community of brewers can make a greater impact together than alone.”
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