Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wine of the times

I always keep an eye out to see if NL makes the national news.

You never know when or why we’ll be in the headlines.

Take today’s Toronto Star story.

Red wine is cutting into beer’s traditional market dominance across Canada, Stats Canada reported Tuesday (April 20th, 2010).

New numbers show that beer remains the most popular alcoholic drink in Canada, but its market share has fizzled to 46 per cent in 2009 from 53 per cent in 1993.

Beer stores and agencies sold 2.3 billion litres of beer in 2009, or $318.30 a person for every Canadian over the age of 15.

While Canada may be on its way to becoming a nation of winos, we Newfoundlanders still like our beer.

Which is why we made the national news today, although the precise reason was buried deeper in the story.

The biggest beer sales per capita were recorded in …

Drum roll please …

Newfoundland and the territories.

God love us, we're always making the top of some cross-Canada list.

It’s actually too bad we don’t like wine more.

Numerous studies tout the benefits of a glass of wine — especially red.

God knows our health could do with a boost.

Which brings me to the reason why NL made the pages of the Toronto Star yesterday (Monday, April 19th).

Economist Dale Orr did an analysis of health-care spending across Canada and found that Newfoundland was the biggest spender at $4,490 per person; Quebec was the lowest at $3,490.

Orr attempted to explain why the wide variation in per-capita health spending from one province to the next.

Are provinces like NL with higher-than-average expenditures delivering health care inefficiently?

Good question.

Or are the ones that spend less than average compromising on quality?

Another good question.

Only there are no concrete answers.

We had better get some soon.

An estimated 35.3 cents of every dollar the NL government spends this fiscal year will go towards health, according to the province's most recent budget.

Last year we spent 33 cents of every dollar on health.

Maybe Ray Guy is right — we’d all be better off moving into cardboard boxes on the Health Sciences parking lot.

How do we turn things around?

More analysis to start.

And perhaps a glass of red wine to end.

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