NORTH YORK: The government of Ontario is putting people first and improving choice and convenience for consumers by expanding sales of beverage alcohol to nearly 300 new retail outlets across Ontario – many opening this summer, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance, announced today.
These stores will provide new economic opportunities for businesses across the province, while offering local craft brewers and wineries with greater reach and visibility.
“Whether driving to the cottage or running errands, consumers across Ontario will now have more places to pick up beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages,” said Minister Fedeli. “Our government is committed to delivering greater choice and convenience to individuals and families, and this expansion is just the beginning.”
Ontario is allowing 87 more grocery stores across the province to sell wine, beer and cider, bringing the total number of grocery store authorizations to 450. New grocers will be able to start selling wine, beer and cider starting in September.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is also expanding its agency store program to approximately 200 new underserved communities, with up to 60 stores expected to open in August. Up to150 new locations are expected to open by December 2019, with additional stores opening in spring 2020. These new locations will now be called “LCBO Convenience Outlets” to help consumers easily identify local alcohol retailers in their community that offer a similar product assortment as LCBO stores.
“LCBO Convenience Outlets provide socially responsible access to beverage alcohol products from Ontario and around the world, and this expansion, along with the increased number of grocery outlets, is a welcomed opportunity to provide greater accessibility and convenience to our valued customers across the province,” said George Soleas, President & CEO, LCBO.
“By opening up more alcohol retail outlets across the province, we are not only making life easier for people, we are enabling growth and job creation in the province’s booming beer and wine industry,” said Minister Fedeli. “Our government’s Open for Business, Open for Jobs approach is about promoting competition, and establishing fairness for everyone, from our small craft brewers, cider and wine producers, to the large beer producers.”
Ontario’s Government for the People respects adult consumers by trusting them to make responsible choices that work for them. Enabling nearly 300 additional stores to sell alcohol is a first step in delivering choice, convenience and fairness, while discussions with industry are underway to expand alcohol sales into corner stores, big-box stores and even more grocery stores.
- Grocers will be selected through a lottery process. Successful grocers will then apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for an authorization and enter into a wholesale supply agreement with the LCBO.
- The LCBO will release a Request for Proposal for local retailers in the 200 newly identified communities. All business applicants that meet the requirements for an authorization will be entered into a lottery for each community and those selected will be eligible for Convenience Outlet authorizations.
- Ken Hughes, Special Advisor for the Beverage Alcohol Review, recently released a report detailing the inconvenience and unfairness of the current system for everyday Ontario consumers. A key recommendation was to allow more businesses to provide choice and convenience by expanding the number of LCBO agency stores and allowing alcohol to be sold in more grocery stores.
- Ontario has fewer stores that can sell alcohol than any other province when compared against population size. There are over 8,000 retail stores in Quebec selling alcohol, but less than 3,000 in Ontario.
- To date, the government has increased choice and convenience and saved consumers money by:
- Letting sports fans drink alcohol at tailgating parties at eligible sporting events.
- Enabling municipalities to make rules about alcohol consumption in public spaces like parks.
- Extending hours of alcohol service at licensed establishments, allowing them to start serving alcohol at 9 a.m.
- Letting the Beer Store, LCBO and other authorized retailers, such as grocery stores and agency stores, sell alcohol from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.
- Changing advertising rules to allow for “happy hour” in Ontario.
- Providing flexibility for wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries to promote their products at manufacturing sites by removing the prescribed serving sizes for “by the glass” licences.
- Pausing beer and wine tax hikes initiated by the previous government.
- Lowering the price floor to allow brewers to sell beer for $1 (Buck-a-beer).