Setting the minimum legal drinking age is important for every country because of the burden of responsibility that comes with alcoholic beverages. Worldwide, the minimum drinking age varies but most are between 18 and 21 years. In Canada, this age varies with the province or territory. Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba have set the minimum age to 18 years whereas in Yukon, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Newfoundland and Labrador have all set the minimum age limit at 19 years. The minimum drinking age debate has been going on for a long time as different jurisdictions ponder whether to increase or not increase the age.
The Canadian constitution gives the ten provinces and three territories the responsibility of coming up with laws governing the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages to the extent that such laws are consistent with the federal laws. In all the provinces and territories, it is only Alberta that has privatized the liquor industry. Except in a few provinces and territories, the consumption of alcoholic beverage remains prohibited in public places unless one obtains a written permit from the municipal authorities. However, Quebec allows people to take low alcohol contents in public as long as there is a food accompaniment. All the provinces and territories strictly prohibit drinking and driving. This provision of the law is so strict in Quebec and Ontario that one cannot drive or sit in a stationary vehicle while having an open liquor containing bottle even if he or she is not drinking. Most jurisdictions do not allow adults to buy alcohol for minors.
Alcohol is the most used drug in Canada with at least 80% of the population being consumers of alcoholic beverages. The number of drinkers has been on the increase over the past two decades and continues to rise.
Canada has comprehensive public and private health programs that work with young people, authorities, and communities in an effort to reduce underage drinking. These programs include awareness sessions that educate young people and the public on the dangers of alcohol consumption and thus reducing the risks. A number of educational programs teaching young people on the responsible hosting of parties and other activities exist to help fight against underage drinking. Several rehabilitation programs to help affected individuals are also in place.