In this Living in Canada guide, we are going to cover the legal drinking age in Canada by province and what documents are accepted to buy or drink alcohol.
Every province has their own rules for drinking in terms of liquor sale permission, distribution of alcohol, minimum age restrictions for the person who is consuming it etc. For example, let’s check What’s the legal drinking age in Toronto?
In Toronto, the legal drinking age is 19 years old as in the province of Ontario. However, the minimum age for the salesperson is 18 years old.
If a salesperson has any doubt about the buyer’s age, he has the full right to ask for an acceptable form of identification as proof of age. It would be best if you cooperated with the salesman to identify your age. Identification of age must be current, government-issued ID and include a photo of the person and the birth date. You will find proof of ID lists ahead in this article.
What is the Legal Drinking Age in Canada in 2023?
If we talk generally about the drinking age in Canada, there is no defined age for legal alcohol purchase or consumption by the federal government. Each province and territory has the right to set its own drinking age. The legal age for purchasing alcohol in different provinces of Canada is as follows:
- 19 years of age in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Yukon.
- 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec
The drinking age was raised to 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec in 1985, and 19 in the rest of the country in 1988.
There are a few exceptions to the drinking age laws in Canada. For example, people can drink alcohol on private property with parental consent in Alberta. In Quebec, people can drink alcohol on licensed premises with parental consent if they are accompanied by an adult.
|ⓘ Disclaimer: Please remember that this information is for general informational and educational purposes only. You must check the legal drinking age on your province’s official government websites or sources. We take no responsibility here, as this information could be outdated or changed, we strongly recommend double-checking the legal and law-related information or clearing your queries with the official sources only. We have also included many sources and fact-checked the information from multiple sources.|
The legal drinking age and the types of alcoholic beverages:
- Legal drinking age: 18
- This includes all alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits.
- Legal drinking age: 18
- This age restriction is the same for beer, wine, and spirits.
- Legal drinking age: 18
- The legal drinking age covers beer, wine, and vodka, among other alcoholic drinks.
Can you drink a beer at the age of 18 in Canada?
Yes but in some provinces only, Like in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec you can drink a beer at the age of 18 in Canada.
For the rest of the provinces in Canada, the legal drinking age is generally 19, which also applies to beer, wine, and spirits.
Here is the list of provinces:
- British Columbia
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
- Prince Edward Island
- Northwest Territories
Let me answer some of the most asked questions based on reliable sources and fact-checking:
Can you drink wine at the age of 18 in Canada?
The simple answer is, Yes, But in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, you can legally drink wine at the age of 18. Please remember that you can not drink wine in other provinces under 19, you must be at least 19 years old.
Can I drink vodka under 19 in Canada?
Yes, in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, you can legally drink vodka at 18. But to drink legally in other provinces you must be at least 19 or above.
A fun fact, So if it’s your 19th birthday, you can officially drink after midnight at (00:01). If you carry your official ID with you.
If you have further questions, must check this Alcohol Drinking Ages and Law Source: Drinking laws – RCMP
History of MLDA Changes in Canada
Most of you don’t know about MLDA, For those who do not know, What is MLDA?
MLDA stands for ‘Minimum Legal Drinking Age.
Earlier before the 1970s most of the Canadian provinces and territories had MLDA 20 or 21 years minimum. In the 1970s, all Canadian provinces and territories lowered the ‘minimum legal drinking age‘ MLDA from 20 years old or 21 years old to either 18 yr or 19 yr close to the age group which is legally an adult.
Ontario and Saskatchewan specifically increased their MLDA from 18 years old to 19 years old, in the late 1970s. (source: ccsa.ca)
More recently, in 1987, P.E.I. increased their legal drinking age from 18 to 19 years; since this time there have been no further changes to the MLDA in Canada.
As of November 2023, the most recent MLDA is 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, and 19 years in the rest of the Canadian provinces and territories.
What is the Legal Drinking Age in Canada by Provinces in 2023?
As of November 2023, In the provinces of Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Yukon, the legal drinking age is 19 years old.
In the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec the legal drinking age is 18 years old in the year 2023.
Here is the quick table explaining the legal drinking age in Canada by each province in 2023.
|[Legal Age of Drinking: By Provinces]||[Age]|
|British Columbia||19 years|
|Northwest Territories||19 years|
|Nova Scotia||19 years|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||19 years|
|Prince Edward Island||19 years|
|New Brunswick||19 years|
|*Last Update||November 2023|
Legal Drinking Age in Alberta 2023
As of November 2023, If you are planning to buy alcohol or drink alcohol, you must be aware that the legal drinking age in Calgary, Edmonton, or anywhere in Alberta is 18 years old.
Legal Drinking Age in Manitoba 2023
Make sure you are 18 years old if you are going to buy or drink alcohol in Winnipeg or anywhere in Manitoba.
You must carry your photo ID card (list given below) if you are planning to buy alcohol.
Legal Drinking Age in Quebec 2023
If you are in Montreal or anywhere in Quebec, the legal drinking age in Quebec or the buying age is 18 years old.
Legal Drinking Age in British Columbia 2023
The legal drinking age in Vancouver, Surrey or anywhere in British Columbia is 19 years old. Must carry your photo ID card. eg driving licence if you are going to buy liquor from any store, you will be asked for a photo ID card.
Legal Drinking Age in Ontario 2023
In the financial capital of Canada, the legal drinking age in Toronto or anywhere in Ontario is 19 years old.
Legal Drinking Age in Saskatchewan 2023
In the Prairies, The legal drinking age in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw or anywhere in Saskatchewan is 19 years old.
Legal Drinking Age in Northwest Territories 2023
In the Northwest Territories, the legal drinking age is 19 years old. A valid photo ID would be required if you plan to buy liquor.
Legal Drinking Age in Nova Scotia 2023
Similar to most of the other provinces the legal drinking age in Nova Scotia is also 19 years old.
Legal Drinking Age in Nunavut 2023
Nunavut also has a legal drinking age of 19 years old minimum.
Legal Drinking Age in Newfoundland and Labrador
19 years old.
Prince Edward Island: Legal Drinking Age in 2023
Prince Edward Island also has the same legal drinking age of 19 years old.
New Brunswick: Legal Drinking Age 2023
The legal drinking age anywhere in New Brunswick is 19 years old.
Yukon: Legal Drinking Age 2023
Anywhere in Yukon, you must be at least 19 years old to consume alcohol.
Drinking Laws in Canada: by Provinces
If you are a new immigrant or visitor, please make sure to read these drinking laws in Canada and the possible consequences.
Anyone in Canada must be aware of these drinking laws which are important even if you are not drinking or buying alcohol.
How do the drinking laws differ between provinces and cities?
The laws regarding alcohol consumption in Toronto are governed by the Ontario Liquor Control Board (LCBO). The legal drinking age in Toronto is 19. Alcohol may be consumed in public places, such as restaurants, bars, and parks.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. For example, alcohol can be consumed in certain public places, such as schools, hospitals, and government buildings.
The rules regarding alcohol consumption vary between provinces and cities. For instance, the legal drinking age in Montreal is 18. Additionally, alcohol can be purchased and consumed in public places, such as parks and sidewalks, provided that it is not within view of a school or daycare center.
What are some of the risks of underage drinking?
There are many risks to underage drinking, including:
• Health risks – alcohol can damage the developing brains of young people and lead to problems with learning, memory and behaviour. It can also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer.
• Social risks – underage drinking can lead to social problems such as fighting, vandalism and truancy. It can also adversely affect family relationships.
• Economic risks – alcohol consumption can lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism from work or school, and increased healthcare costs.
What ID proofs are required to drink or buy alcohol in Canada?
Here is the list of photo IDs and documents acceptable to purchase or drink legally in Canada as of March 2023:
Canadian Citizenship Card:
A citizenship card is a card that proves your Canadian citizenship and must have your photo on it and your date of birth to confirm.
Any province’s driver’s license card is acceptable and has your photo and DOB on it.
If you are a tourist to Canada, you can provide your country driving license which proves your identity and age.
An official document that identifies you as a citizen of a particular country and shows your photo and date of birth to identify your age.
Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card:
This card is for those who are serving or served in the Canadian armed forces and must have their photo on it as well as their DOB.
A Secure Indian Status Card issued by the Government of Canada
Permanent Resident Card:
The Permanent Resident card is an identification document and a travel document for permanent residents of Canada which has your photo and identification of your age on it.
A photo card issued by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)
Conclusion: Legal Drinking Age in Canada
Even if you meet the minimum requirement of the drinking age, it is still important to use caution when consuming alcohol. If you are under the influence of alcohol, your judgment and coordination can be impaired, which can lead to accidents or other dangerous situations.
I would request you strictly follow the legal drinking age law in Canada according to your province. If you choose to drink alcohol, it is important to do so responsibly and in moderation.
Drinking alcohol illegally can lead to serious consequences, including heavy fines and even jail time. It’s important to weigh the risks and benefits before making a decision about whether or not to drink illegally.