Many jurisdictions, including the U.S., (above), Europe and some provinces already allow alcohol sales in corner and grocery stores.
Photo Credit: Jeannie Nuss/Associated Press

Ontario won’t say yes or no to alchohol sales in convenience stores

 In Canada’s most populous province, the Liquour Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has a virtual monopoly on the sale of wine and spirits.

In fact it’s one of the largest purchasers and retailers of alcohol in the world and last year the crown agency brought in some $1.65 billion dollars into Ontario’s government coffers.

However, there is increasing demand to relax sales regulations to match those of many other jurisdictions in Canada, and those in the US whereby beer, wine and spirits are sold by privately owned stores.

Ontario Finance minister, Charles Sousa, was asked this week whether he would allow convenience stores to sell alcohol, he said he wouldn’t rule it out. However he also said there are no plans to change the structure of the LCBO.

The Crown corporation has been expanding its reach by opening a handful of what it calls “Express” outlets in certain grocery stores, along with 219 agency stores in partnership with other retail operations.  These are primarily in areas with too small a market to support a full-sized LCBO outlet.

The latest pressure on the government to relax sales comes from Mac’s Convenience Stores which has 547 outlets across the province which said it would be able to create 1,600 full-time jobs if allowed to sell beer, wine, and spirits.

A study commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association found that the provincial government would receive more revenue if alcohol sales were permitted in convenience stores.

Former Liberal premier David Peterson promised to allow corner stores to sell beer and wine in the 1980s, but it never happened. Ex-premier Dalton McGuinty also denied several requests from the industry to do it.

Current Finance Minister Sousa’s predecessor, Dwight Duncan, shot the proposal down last year after the Ontario Convenience Stores Association delivered a petition with 112,500 signatures supporting the idea of broader retail availability of beer and wine.

(with files from CBC)

Categories: Economy, Politics, Society

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