REGINA - Saskatchewan is saying no to lowering the legal drinking age to 18, even though some members of the government's own party want the change.
Donna Harpauer, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, says people will still have to be 19 to drink legally in the province.
"There was arguments given quite compellingly on both sides," Harpauer said Monday at the legislature.
"The general consensus, however, among the main stakeholder groups and the majority of the people who corresponded with my office or other MLA offices is that the legal drinking age in Saskatchewan should remain at 19 years.
"There have been many reasons provided as to why ... most of them centred of course around issues of young people drinking, and drinking and driving."
Harpauer said she heard from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but the concern was also raised by the city of Prince Albert and northern communities, where there are issues with substance abuse.
Dale Larsen with the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police said the chiefs back the government's decision.
"We know that young people are already involved in a disproportionate amount of incidents involving alcohol, so allowing young people to legally consume alcohol earlier would only make it worse," Larsen said in a news release.
Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec have 18 as the drinking age.
Young people in Saskatchewan communities that are close to Manitoba and Alberta have been known to cross provincial boundaries to drink. But Harpauer said neighbouring provinces having a lower drinking age is not "a compelling enough reason" for Saskatchewan to follow.
The question was being considered after delegates at the Saskatchewan Party's annual convention last fall voted in favour of reducing the drinking age by one year.
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Talk About The Issues
If you had alcohol or drugs in your past, you may want to consider telling your kids about it, Murie says. A 2008 survey of more than 6,000 American teenagers found that they were <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/teens/alcohol-and-drug-use/you-did-drugs-what-do-you-tell-your-kids-when-they-ask/article2216392/" target="_hplink">50 per cent less likely to use drugs</a> if they had "learned a lot" about them from their parents.
Be The Role Model
"It starts with the parents themselves and their own consumption of drinking alcohol. It's the kind of mentoring they are showing," Murie says.
Don't Be Permissive
"It's unacceptable to allow kids to consume alcohol in front of you," Murie says. Parents need to work with their kids to control alcohol use -- especially alcohol abuse involving young people.
Parents should always be accessible to their children, Murie says. "Work with your teens to give them alternatives if they do get into a [uncomfortable] situation. They need a phone or a prepaid taxi cab card if possible," he says.
Understand The Risks And Take Control
Even if a party isn't happening at your home, parents should still be able to take control, Murie says. "[It's about understanding the risks and [the fact] that alcohol is alcohol. One shot or glass of wine, it doesn't matter." Murie also says that if your kids do attend a house party, parents should call the host parent beforehand to find out if alcohol will be in the household -- especially if kids are underage.