A Report on Alcohol in Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Executive Summary

For centuries, alcohol has played a significant role in society. While generating some social and economic benefits, alcohol also places significant health, safety, social, and economic burdens on society. This report aims to explore those factors to provide local organizations with information in order to inform planning and service delivery to address alcohol misuse.
Some of the important findings from this report include:
Drinking behaviour of WDG residents:
  • 81% of WDG residents report drinking alcohol in the last 12 months. A higher proportion of WDG residents drink compared to all Ontario (72%)
  • On average, WDG residents drink between 4 and 5 drinks per week
  • 49% of WDG residents reported drinking in excess of at least one of Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRADGs)1. A higher proportion of WDG residents reported exceeding the LRADGs compared to Ontario (41%)
  • Men are more likely to exceed both LRADGs but there has been a 10% increase between 2007-2013 in the proportion of women who report exceeding the special occasion limit
Drinking behaviour of special populations:
  • 22% of grade 7 students and 66% of grade 10 students reported drinking in the last 12 months
  • Grade 10 males are more likely to report heavy drinking than females and grade 10 youth in Dufferin are more likely to report heavy drinking than grade 10 students in Wellington and Guelph
  • A higher proportion of grade 7 and 10 youth who drink more frequently are at risk of depression compared to youth who drink less frequently

University Students

  • 89% of students at the University of Guelph reported drinking within the last 12 months
  • 31.1% of students classify as light-infrequent drinkers and 27.5% of students classify as heavy-frequent drinkers
Women of Childbearing Age & Pregnant Women
  • Of women of childbearing age (15-44 years old), 86% reported drinking within the last 12 months and 62% reported exceeding the LRADGs in 2013.1 Canada’s national Low Risk Alcohol Drinking guidelines were created to give Canadians information on how to drink on a low-risk way.  
  • ​Of the women included in a WDGPH Prebirth Clinic study, 18% reported consuming alcohol during their pregnancy and on 2% of the total sample continued to use alcohol after they became aware of their pregnancy.
Alcohol availability and sales:
  • Alcohol availability is concentrated around areas of high population density
  • 87% of Guelph residents live within 1.0 kilometers of an alcohol outlet2 compared to 61% of Dufferin residents and 47% of Wellington residents
  • Dufferin County residents purchased the most litres of alcohol per capita (ages 19+) within WDG for all types of alcohol, with Guelph coming in at a very close 2nd in all categories.
Alcohol’s impact on health and safety:
  • Hospitalizations for diseases caused solely by alcohol have increased by 28% from 2009-2013
  • There is no accurate data on the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the community
  • The number of alcohol related charges and impaired driving charges by police forces in Wellington and Dufferin has been declining over the last 5 years
  • In 2013, the 25-44 year olds age group received more alcohol related charges than any other age group in Wellington and Dufferin
  • No local data is available on the prevalence of violent incidents related to alcohol in WDG
There is much work to be done to address the health and social impacts of high risk alcohol use in WDG. Research, public education, community engagement and healthy public policy development will all play a role in the creation of an alcohol strategy to encourage moderate drinking.
1 Canada’s national Low Risk Alcohol Drinking guidelines were created to give Canadians information on how to drink on a low-risk way.This report looks at Guideline #1 (daily and weekly drinking limits) and Guideline #2 only (special occasion limits) only.
2 An alcohol outlet is any place that sells alcohol. For the purposes of this report these include: Beer stores & LCBO stores, breweries, wineries, brew and ferment on premise establishments, off-site winery retail stores, and licensed establishments (e.g. restaurants and bars).