Some argue that the province’s current policies don’t protect citizens
Special event liquor licenses are needed for all events that plan to serve alcohol. In Alberta, these licenses are available at any liquor store.
Currently, as long as a person is of legal drinking age they can purchase a liquor license for around $10 to $20.
Some critics say Alberta’s licensing regulations should be stricter, like those in British Columbia and Ontario.
One of these critics is Andrew Murie, the chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, or MADD.
Photo by Garrett Harvey“I can tell you that the evidence shows the more regulations you have, the more you protect it, the less death and injuries you’ll have,” Muire says.
For example, in British Colombia, special event licenses are only available at government-owned stores and can take several weeks to be approved by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
If the event is being organized for a group or business, all coordinators and servers must complete Serving it Right, an online liquor serving course.
The course is similar to the ProServe course that is required to work as a liquor store clerk or a bartender in Alberta.
However, the higher liquor regulations in B.C. are not popular among some liquor store employees, including Daryl Lamb.
Lamb, the general manager of Legacy Liquor Store in Vancouver, says the process of getting a special event licensing in B.C is “ludicrous.”
The license can cost $40 to $100 depending of the size of the event.
But, the problem with both B.C. and Alberta’s approach, according to Murie, is that the people serving alcohol at special event might be more likely to sell liquor to an underage or intoxicated customer.
“If I was to give a gold star to liquor licensing enforcement, I wouldn’t give it to B.C., and I certainly wouldn’t give it to Alberta,” he says.
Another critic of Alberta’s liquor regulations is the Canada’s Temperance Foundation, an organization that says they strive for education of drug and alcohol abstinence.
In an email interview, Miles Craig, the organization’s chief executive officer, said the foundation “favours government legislation aimed at reducing the use of alcohol throughout the country, including increased pricing and reduced accessibility.”
Instead, Murie says the best way to guard against liquor being handed to underage or intoxicated drinkers is “caterers endorsement,” a policy used in Ontario.
This means that a bartender at a special event has to be a professional, government-trained, server.
Murie says: “If something goes wrong, if I am affected as an innocent person, I legitimately have somebody that I can go back and sue who is responsible for the death or injury of a loved one.
If it’s an untrained person and the act doesn’t require that kind of training, it would be very hard to sue because that person has no responsibilities.”