The province has steeply increased fines for those who sell alcohol to minors in an effort to curb underage drinking.

On Thursday, officials said that Manitoba now has the highest fines in Canada associated with underage drinking.

The minimum fine for people who sell or buy alcohol for a minor increased from $1,260.30 to $2,000. The fine for a corporation that sells or buys alcohol for a minor rose to $5,000.

"With this increase in fines, Manitoba has become a leader among Canadian jurisdictions in sending a clear message to those who facilitate underage drinking," said Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh.

The fine for minors who attempt to purchase alcohol using false identification, or who possess or consume alcohol, also increased to $655.65 from $292.65.

"Certainly it's a deterrent to anyone supplying alcohol to a minor and hopefully a deterrent to a minor wanting to purchase alcohol," said Diana Soroka, spokesperson with the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission

Bars or licensed restaurants who serve alcohol to minors can now be fined $655.65, up from $292.65, and they can also be subject to disciplinary action by the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.

In early March, Mackintosh announced the provincial government's intention to increase fines as a measure to address underage drinking.

Mackintosh added the underage drinking has a steep social cost. The province also pointed to the 2009 Health Survey of 34,000 Manitoba youth which found that 36 per cent of youths indicated they had consumed alcohol at lease once in the past 30 days.

According to the report, 34 per cent of youth in the survey indicated they had engaged in binge drinking, which the report's authors defined as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting.

- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley