November 5, 2015 1:21 am
Updated: November 5, 2015 1:23 am

New B.C. happy hour rules lead to cheaper drinks, but increased social costs: study

WATCH: A new study by the University of Victoria says the BC's government's minimum pricing rules on liquor have resulted in people getting a break, but as Kylie Stanton reports, there's been a hefty social cost.


Victoria’s Beagle Pub has 36 brews on tap, all of which go on sale for $5 a pint when happy hour hits.

The pub brought in the pricing last June, after the province made changes to the rules allowing happy hour liquor sales.

While British Columbians have been enjoying deals like the ones offered at the Victoria watering hole, the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC decided to find out if happy hours have led to lower drink prices.

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Their research found that drinks are, in fact, cheaper.

“While most of the 197 happy hour drink specials that were recorded complied with the three-dollar minimum, happy hour prices were on average 35 cents cheaper per standard drink…than pre-existing daily drink specials,” said the research.

The study also tried to examine the social costs of happy hour deals.

Researchers say the lower prices are resulting in more consumption, putting pressure on public health.

“When booze gets cheaper people get more drunk, there’s more problems,” said Tim Stockwell of the Centre for Addictions Research of BC . “There’s an increase in crime. We pay our money and take our chances. In this case, we pay less money and take our chances.”

Researchers have made recommendations to limit the negative impacts of happy hour. They suggest restricting happy hours to a maximum of two hours and increasing the minimum price to $3.25, which will be adjusted annually for inflation.

They also recommend setting minimum prices according to alcohol content rather than volume, which researchers says would close a “loophole allowing high strength beverages to be sold cheaply.”

“We need to look at striking the right balance,” said Coralee Oakes, minister responsible for liquor distribution. “We will continue to work with health advocates as we move forward on the continued recommendations that we’re implementing.”

Beagle Pub owner Bart Reed has a different perspective on any proposed changes.

“My thoughts are always the same with this type of thing: leave everyone alone,” Reed said. “Back off with the regulations. Let the people decide what the people want.”

-With files from Kylie Stanton

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