Alcohol a problem on Island?

Chief health officer, medical society raise alarm over our drinking habits

Published on July 3, 2014

Dr. David Bannon, president of the P.E.I Medical Society, speaks to a reporter during the annual meeting of the society in Stanley Bridge Saturday.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

The thousands of visitors pouring into the province over the weekend and for Canada Day festivities might get the impression that Islanders have a problem with alcohol. It’s easy to see why. The main story in The Guardian on Saturday said P.E.I.’s chief health officer is concerned that one- quarter of Islanders are heavy drinkers. Dr. Heather Morrison issued the 2014 health trends report on Friday, just in time to make Islanders nervous at the start of the pre-Canada Day weekend. It wasn’t just the fact that Islanders drink too much booze; we are less active, more overweight and are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions than the rest of the country. Things have gotten worse from the last such report, which indicates we haven’t learned any valuable health lessons over the past several years.

Then, in The Guardian on Monday, it was the turn of the Medical Society of P.E.I. to take a couple of critical swings at the drinking habits of Islanders. This time there were two stories outlining the problems we have with alcohol and even bigger problems in the treatment of the alcoholism.

The society devoted one of its three resolutions to alcohol addictions. Dr. Jerry O’Hanley said alcohol addiction is such a huge problem on P.E.I., it’s hard to define the scope of the problem or get numbers on the numbers of alcoholics. Canadians consume more alcohol per capita than most other countries and P.E.I. has a higher binge-drinking rate than the rest of Canada.

Society president Dr. David Bannon said the problem has worsened because alcohol is so socially acceptable and readily available thanks to the proliferation of liquor stores and agency outlets across the province.

The resolution requests the P.E.I. Department of Health and Wellness to address alcohol abuse in the province and to promote consuming lower, safer levels of alcohol in hopes it will minimize the negative impacts of excessive drinking.

If there is any good news for Island drinkers, Dr. Morrison said her biggest concerns were obesity and inactivity levels of Islanders, while alcohol is number three or four on the list.

Like any alcoholic, Islanders first have to declare we have a problem and then deal with it. It’s up to each Islander to make healthier choices. Do we prefer the nickname of Spud or beer gut?


Fireworks lose fizzle


By mid-afternoon Tuesday, an estimated 15,000 music fans had crowded onto the event grounds location in the east end of Charlottetown for a free concert headlined by a large number of big-name performers. Another estimated 5,000 people were busy at the Celebration Zone at Confederation Landing Park, the centrepiece for many of the events associated with 150th anniversary parties. The launch of the Young Company’s noon hour show at Confederation Centre also drew a big crowd.

It was a great way to celebrate Canada Day and the countdown to early September and the actual 150th anniversary when the Fathers of Confederation landed in the city in 1864 to launch discussions on the formation of Canada. Warm, sunny weather certainly helped bring out the throngs.

Observers said they never saw larger crowds for the fireworks that night, billed as the largest in Canada. Organizers might have exaggerated. The show started at 10 p.m. and was over by 10:13 p.m. It was so short that spectators thought there were technical problems or the second half was just slow starting. Maybe a little less hype and a few more fireworks might be in order next time.