The Kingston/Greenwood Community Health Board recently hosted more than 75 participants at a forum focused on the culture of alcohol in Kings County.
‘Our Community and Alcohol: Kings County working together to understand issues and plan actions,’ was held at the Louis Millett Community Complex in New Minas. Attendees included municipal leaders, local youth, representatives from Acadia University, members of Kings County’s five community health boards and Health Minister Leo Glavine.
As part of the province-wide Municipal Alcohol Project, the one-day forum presented alcohol-related issues in Nova Scotia communities. Assault, domestic violence, binge drinking, risky sexual behaviour, emergency room congestion and property damage were among the identified alcohol-related harms affecting Nova Scotians.
“The time to act is now,” said Kings County Warden Diana Brothers.
“We have to work together and engage with our communities to understand how we can change our difficult relationship with alcohol for future generations.”
A youth panel provided insight into the complex set of messages and issues that youth need to navigate around alcohol use. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer and chief medical officer of health, followed this with data demonstrating that Nova Scotians live in an environment that, through marketing and social messages, conveys the societal expectation to drink. The evidence indicates that Nova Scotians are among the heaviest drinkers in Canada and that they are starting to drink earlier with each generation.
“Our communities are suffering the consequences of alcohol-related harms,” said Tricia Cochrane, vice-president of continuing care and community health for Annapolis Valley Health, who also spoke at the forum.
“We’re committed to working with local partners to improve the health of our community – and that includes addressing harmful alcohol use,” she added.
Daisy Dwyer, chairwoman of the Kingston/Greenwood Community Health Board, said it was inspiring to see the response to the event.
“We hope this forum proves to be a springboard for further conversations and focused action on how we can reduce the alcohol harms in our communities.”