Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines provide adults, ages 25 to 65 who choose to drink, information on alcohol and related health risks so that they can make an informed choice about drinking.
By choosing to limit their alcohol consumption, adults can reduce their risk of short and long-term alcohol-related harms, such as injuries and certain chronic diseases. The Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition Alcohol Working Group cites that according to the research, drinking any type of alcohol – beer, wine or spirits – raises your risk of cancer.
Guideline 1: Reduce Long-Term Alcohol-Related Health Risks
Guideline 2: Minimize Risk of Injury and Harm
3 drinks (for women) at any one time
4 drinks (for men) at any one time
In Ontario, the maximum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for licensed drivers is 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. Driving with a BAC in excess of 0.08 is a criminal offense. New drivers with a class G1 license must have a BAC of zero. Use your weight and the number of drinks per hour to estimate your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).
The safest choice is to plan ahead. Don’t drink and drive.
Guideline 3: When to Avoid Drinking
Driving a vehicle or operating machinery and tools
Taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines or drugs that interact with alcohol
Doing any kind of dangerous physical activity
Living with mental or physical health problems
Pregnant or planning to be pregnant or about to breastfeed
Responsible for the safety of others and making important decisions
Living with alcohol dependence
Guideline 4: Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
Any kind of alcohol can be harmful during pregnancy including liquor, beer, wine and coolers. Learn about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Guideline 5: Delay Your Drinking
Youth should delay their drinking until their late teens, as alcohol is harmful to the development of the brain and body. Teens should plan ahead and follow local drinking laws.
Drink under parental guidance
Never drink more than 1-2 drinks at a time, and never more than 1-2 times per week
Youth in their late teens to age 24 years should never exceed the daily and weekly limits outlined in Guideline 1.
It’s important for parents to talk to their teens about alcohol.
Adapted with permission from Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, 2011.
Standard Drink Size
Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines define a drink as:
A regular-sized can/bottle
341 ml or 12 oz of 5% alcohol content (beer, cider, or cooler)
A glass of wine
142 ml or 5 oz with 12% alcohol content
A shot of distilled liquor
43 ml or 1.5 oz of 40% alcohol content (rye, gin, rum etc.)
Learn how to make fun and tasty non-alcoholic drinks for your next party.
- To obtain a copy of Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines brochure and/or Mocktail Recipe card in English, please call Toronto Health Connection at 416-338-7600, Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
- For more information and related reports, see Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.