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Researcher: Update needed on Health Canada website for alcohol



Researchers behind the latest guidance on drinking alcohol want Health Canada to update findings on its website to inform the public about safe levels of consumption.

And federal Health Minister Jean-Yves agrees Canadians should have access to that “important piece of advice.”

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released a Health Canada-funded report in January that says scientific evidence from around the world suggests no amount of alcohol is safe and low-risk is defined as two drinks per week, instead of two drinks per day, based on its previously recommended limits from 2011. But the old information remains on the federal agency’s site.

Duclos said people need access to the latest, robust data online to make decisions about drinking and their well-being.


“I think every Canadian deserves to know what the experts believe,” he said in an interview. “In the end, it’s for people to decide. They need to have easy access to the type of information that matters to them.”

However, Duclos said he could not say if the site would be updated. He deferred to Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett, but a spokeswoman for her said the minister was not available for comment.

In a statement, Bennett’s office said the government will “continue to engage Canadians on policies to address alcohol-related harms and to determine best approaches to disseminate information on risks related to alcohol use.”

“We believe it is essential to have this work done before proceeding to finalizing specific guidance tools and methods of communication.”

However, Bennett has not committed to mandating warning labels on alcohol containers, as recommended in the report. She said in February that she hoped the industry would voluntarily take on the labelling issue.

Dr. Peter Butt, who co-chaired the CCSA’s guidance project, said basic information should be provided by Health Canada to show the federal government’s support of the project it paid for.

“We’re talking about a cultural and political shift that doesn’t happen overnight. But you know, people would like to see the government do the right thing,” he said of replacing the old guidance, which set weekly limits at 15 standard drinks for men and 10 for women.

“I’m sure Health Canada is grappling with this as individuals did when the guidance came out,” said Butt, adding the evidence researchers considered raises multiple questions: “What do we need to do to respond to this? What’s our responsibility? And where do we land in terms of tolerating risk — politically and economically as opposed to the right thing to do?”

He called alcohol a “complicated commodity” in the way it is marketed, even as a potentially high-risk product that is linked to health conditions and rising health-care costs.

Butt also questioned Bennett’s stance on leaving the issue of warning labels to the alcohol industry.

“This is not providing any guidance whatsoever. This is just going to kick the can further down the road. And what do you think the tobacco industry would have done if they were told to voluntarily place labels on their packages of cigarettes,” said Butt, who is also a clinical associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s department of family medicine. His clinical and research work focuses on substance use disorders.

Wine Growers of Canada has said it is developing a QR code that could voluntarily be placed on alcohol containers to direct consumers to a site that warns about alcohol’s association with increased long-term risk of serious illness and potential negative effects on relationships.

Butt called that approach equivalent to “infomercials” on websites aimed at furthering the financial interests of the industry rather than providing consumers with the information they need directly on alcohol containers.

“Alcohol is no ordinary commodity. It has a history. It’s embedded in our culture. There’s an economy attached to it,” he said.

Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) at the University of Victoria, said the latest guidance is based on scientific data and could be used to set policies, such as federal taxes, physical availability of alcohol and treatment interventions to minimize its harms.

“I certainly hope Health Canada will step up and play an active role in at least in this one aspect of improving things,” he said of the agency posting the CCSA’s updated guidance, for which he provided expertise.

Preliminary results of CISUR’s latest edition of the ongoing Canadian Alcohol Policy Evaluation research project, which assesses how well provincial and federal governments are implementing policies, show all 13 provinces and territories are selling alcohol at a loss, meaning taxpayers are subsidizing sales, Naimi said.

“There’s lots to be done in Canada with respect to improving people’s health and well-being with respect to alcohol. And I think the guidance is an important part of reshaping that sort of conversation. So, of course, I’m concerned that the word gets out.”

The previous guidelines were associated with health harms, said Naimi, adding: “I can’t really explain why (Health Canada) wouldn’t at least post the new ones.”

Catherine Paradis, interim director of the CCSA, who, along with Butt, directed the guidance project, said plans are underway to launch an awareness campaign to educate the public online, through doctors’ offices and various agencies about the risks related to drinking alcohol.

“We’re receiving tons of requests,” she said of interest from organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Liver Foundation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2023.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.



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Air Canada flights delayed due to IT issue – CTV News



Air Canada reported a technical issue with its flight communications system on Thursday, causing delays across the country for the second time in a week.

In a statement to, the Montreal-based company said it was experiencing a “temporary technical issue” with the system it uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor the performance of its operations.

By Thursday afternoon, the airline said the system had “begun to stabilize,” though flights were expected to be impacted for the remainder of the day.


“The communicator system has begun to stabilize, and aircraft continue to move although still at a lower than normal rate. As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” Air Canada said.

“Customers are advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport as we anticipate the impact will persist through the balance of the day.”

As a result of the system failure, the airline said it implemented a “flexible policy,” allowing customers who wished to change their travel plans to do so at no cost.

Speaking to reporters before question period, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the federal government has been in touch with Air Canada and is encouraging the airline to get its communications system back up and running “as quickly as possible.”

“They understand the consequences of these delays and we’ll keep following up on the situation,” said Alghabra.

The system failure caused delays for the majority of flights scheduled to depart from the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Thursday morning, said Michel Rosset, communications manager for the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

Some Air Canada flights in the afternoon and evening were scheduled to run on time at the Winnipeg airport, but Rosset advised passengers to look online for updated flight information as that could change.

“With flights, even on a good day, things could change pretty quickly. So I’d recommend, if you’re looking for updated (flight information) throughout the day, the best bet is just to head to our website,” he told in a phone interview.

Leah Batstone, communications and marketing advisor for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, said the Halifax airport was aware of the “IT issue” that Air Canada was experiencing and recommended passengers to keep tabs on their flight status.

“As always, travellers are advised to check their flight status directly with their airline before coming to the airport,” Batstone said in an emailed statement to

Air Canada was forced to ground its planes last week due to a similar problem with its communications system, which delayed nearly half its flights.

The airline said the issue it experienced this Thursday was in the “same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”

“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future,” it said.

“We apologize for the impact on our customers and appreciate their patience. We are working hard to get people on their way as soon as possible.”

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Air Canada flight delays at Toronto Pearson | CTV News – CTV News Toronto



Several Air Canada flights are delayed at Toronto Pearson International Airport due to a temporary technical issue.

The Canadian airline said its system used to communicate with aircraft and monitor operational performance is impacted. Flights were delayed all across the airline’s system as a result, a spokesperson for Air Canada confirmed to CTV News Toronto.

At around 1:30 p.m., the airline said the communicator system has “begun to stabilize,” with flights continuing to move “although still at a lower than normal rate.”


“As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” the statement reads.

Greater Toronto Airports Authority media manager Rachel Bertone told CTV News Toronto that Toronto Pearson passengers are encouraged to check their flight status before making their way to the airport.

“We have also put in place a flexible policy for those who wish to change their travel plans at no cost,” Air Canada said.

As of Thursday afternoon, numerous Air Canada flights initially scheduled to leave Toronto Pearson this morning have been delayed to the afternoon.

Plus, many of Air Canada’s flights headed to the Toronto airport from places like Orlando, Fla., Vancouver, B.C., and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, have been delayed.

In terms of cancellations, however, just over two per cent of departures and roughly 3.5 per cent of arrivals have been cancelled – though it should be noted these percentages include all airlines. 

“We apologize to those affected, and appreciate their patience,” the statement reads.

This is the second time in a week that Air Canada has suffered a technical issue with its computer system, which delayed nearly half of all its flights.

The airline confirmed in its statement, “The issue today was in the same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”

Air Canada has not said how long the technical issue is expected to last, but said they are “working hard” to get fliers on their way as quickly as they can.

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Air Canada flight communicator system breaks down, causing widespread delays –



Air Canada is experiencing an issue with one of its internal systems, leading to flight delays across its network.

The airline said Thursday it is “experiencing a temporary technical issue with its communicator system, one of the systems that we use to communicate with aircraft and monitor operational performance.”

The issue is causing delays across the system, with 234 flights delayed so far on Thursday and 34 cancellations, according to That’s about 44 per cent of the airline’s daily load.


Air Canada’s flanker brand Rouge is also impacted, with 78 delays, or 52 per cent of its flights, as well as 11 cancellations.

It’s the second time in less than a week that the airline has been hit by a problem with its communicator system that caused delays or cancellations. On May 25, U.S. aviation regulator the FAA ordered a ground stop of all Air Canada flights due to unspecified internal computer issues. The outage lasted a little over an hour.

Air Canada says the impacted system is the same as the one from last week, but says the two outages are “unrelated.”

“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future.”

Duncan Dee, a former executive at the airline, described the affected system as an “electronic tracking system to allow them to identify the location of their aircraft at any given time within their network.”

People on the ground watch an Air Canada jet fly over LAX airport.
An Air Canada jet is shown flying over the skies near Los Angeles International Airport. Almost half of the airline’s regularly scheduled flight load has been delayed or cancelled on Thursday because of a technology outage. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg)

“It’s the system which allows them to track their aircraft and to communicate with flights in a more automated way,” he told CBC News.

He was scheduled to fly on an Air Canada flight himself on Thursday and said it was disheartening to see the system fail twice “in such a short period of time. This isn’t something that happens very regularly … because obviously systems aren’t supposed to go down and certainly not to go down so soon, one after the other.”

Government monitoring situation

Early in the afternoon, the airline said the system has begun to “stabilize” but is not yet back to normal and delays continue.

The airline is advising anyone who is supposed to fly today to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport. 

“We are working hard to rectify this situation,” the airline told CBC News in an emailed statement. “We apologize to those affected, and appreciate their patience.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he has been in constant contact with the airline and has been assured that the company is doing everything it can.

“I encourage them to get it up as quickly as possible,” Alghabra said. “They understand the consequences of these delays … they are working on restoring it as quickly as possible.”

Last month, the government tabled new rules designed to make it harder for airlines to wriggle out of compensating passengers for costly delays and cancellations. Those rules have yet to be tabled, but Alghabra said what’s happening on Thursday would be covered by existing rules since it’s being caused by something the airline can control. 

“Based on current rules, passengers are protected,” he said. “Air Canada has obligations to passengers.”

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