Ontario Gov’t Plans Huge Shake-up in Beer Store, LCBO

The Ontario Government Plans Huge Shake-up In LCBO and Beer Store. Reports suggest that the Wynne government has decided to allow beer and wine sales in 300 of the province’s 1,500 large supermarkets.

Reports suggest that the Ontario government  plans a huge shake-up In the LCBO and Beer Store. This could result in allowing beer and wine sales in 300 of the province’s 1,500 large supermarkets.

The spring Ontario budget is expected to outline new alcohol retail policies that could see up to 300 new wine and beer sales licences sold to large supermarket chains as a way to generate more revenue for the provincial government and open up Ontario alcohol sales.

Media reports suggest that the Wynne government has decided to liberalize Ontario’s restrictive beer and wine retailing to initially allow sales in 300 of the province’s 1,500 grocery stores.

Reports indicate that the government will auction off retail licences and limit supermarket chains from owning more than 75 apiece in order to bolster competition.

Sale of hard liquor will continue to be restricted to the publicly-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which runs 651 outlets and 212 independent stores in rural areas. The LCBO will continue to sell beer and wine as well.

Grocery store beer sales should shake-up the 448-outlet Beer Store, which is privately owned by the foreign-owned  parent companies of Labatt, Molson, and Sleeman.

While the Beer Store will continue to operate its own stores and be allowed to distribute beer to supermarkets‎, the Ontario government is expected to collect a new franchise fee ‎of as much as $100 million a year.

At the same time that the Ontario government seems intent on allowing large grocery chains to sell wine and beer, the province’s craft brewing industry is pressing for more sales outlets for their specialty brews.

Ontario Craft Brewers – the association representing craft brewers – says that in addition to the existing retail channels of the LCBO, the Beer Store and possibly grocery stores, the government should allow established craft brewers to open at least one off-site store per brewery and allow them to sell each other’s products in them, and in their existing on-site brewery stores.

The lobby group says the ability to sell through this complementary channel will help grow the industry of 150+ small, independent craft breweries in the province. This new retail channel would also directly have an impact on the growth of the emerging local hops industry, which is also expanding across the province.

“We believe our share could double or triple in the next few years as our access improves,” Darren Smith, president of Lake of Bays Brewing Co. and vice-chair of Ontario Craft Brewers. According to Smith, this could mean another 1,000 to 2,000 new direct brewery jobs. In addition, each off-site store would generate another four to five direct jobs, the group said.

Meanwhile, the union representing workers at the LCBO is saying an emphatic “no” to an expansion of beer and wine sails into supermarkets.

“The Liberal government’s cavalier approach to allowing beer and wine into 300 grocery stores is loaded with health care and social impact consequences,” said Denise Davis, chair of the liquor board employees division of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “But the premier has provided no indication how the government will handle the harmful side effects of expanded alcohol availability which all leading experts say triggers abuse of a controlled substance and higher costs to taxpayers.

“She’s deliberately ignoring the expert evidence that shows that greater alcohol availability leads to an “alcohol deficit” whereby we spend more treating the harmful side effects of alcohol than we actually take in from alcohol-associated revenue.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, whose union represents more than 7,000 LCBO workers, said the government has adopted a reckless approach to its plan to expand beer and wine retail locations by 20 per cent over the 1,500 locations where alcohol is presently available.

“Let’s call this for what it really is,” said Thomas. “This is a golden egg laid for the appetite of the Ontario Liberal government’s corporate pals in the grocery industry some of whom, like Nova Scotia-based Sobey’s, don’t even have headquarters in Ontario. Imagine that: profits from private alcohol sales flowing out of the province instead of staying here in Ontario to help fund health care, education and infrastructure.”

And the union representing the Beer Store workers also opposes changes to the Ontario alcohol retail scene.

“What mustn’t be forgotten is that The Beer Store provides Ontario consumers, parents and communities the highest standard of social responsibility and safety,” says Paul Meinema, the National President of UFCW Canada. “We’re talking about the safety of the public, drivers, and also about the safety of workers who are well trained in challenging customers who are underage or under the influence of alcohol.”

11 thoughts on “Ontario Gov’t Plans Huge Shake-up in Beer Store, LCBO

  1. Johnny_Canuck

    Bad news for craft brewers. Bad news for those who want a variety and selection of beer. Bad news for good jobs. Good news for lazy people and minimum wagers. Too bad government can’t manage their own house and have to resort to raping industry and the public for revenue.

    1. don meade

      this is best news I’ve heard lately from the on gov;t, this will provide much needed income for the prov. . I hope this will help lower our debt without any more tax increases or cuts to our health care system. the on grov’t should not sell hydro 1 , this corp. just needs to rain in on its operating costs.

  2. DD

    Why just 300 licenses to large supermarket chains. Go for broke, open it up to all supermarkets, mini-markets and corner stores. across the province and not just the Toronto area.

    We are so far behind the eight ball on beer and wine selling we’re archaic. Why do we listen to the same poppycock from the unions representing the LCBO and Brewers Retail employees that we’re not ready to deal with the health care and social impact consequences of opening up sales. Doesn’t cut it, to many other provinces and states sell beer and wine in supermarkets, corner stores, mini markets even over the counter selling in restaurants that haven’t seen social and health effects, just ease of access and competitive pricing.

  3. robert dalley

    all you people really don’t see the whole picture this is bad news for the industry and the province. this is nothing more than the government trying to recoup the money paid out for the gas plants. The social aspects will really be impacted. more health care issues will be created and more health care wait times. the new avenues opened up will not be follow the law underage drinking will go up and more impaired driving will be seen its time the Ontario public wakes up and realize that this is wrong for all of Ontario

    1. Chrwilcoa

      Give me a break. Your fear mongering is not fooling anyone. Many provinces sell 100% of their wine, liquor and beer through private licensed retailers. You’re just regurgitating all the union b.s. And the Unions are doing what unions do, looking out for their own bottom line.

  4. dan l.

    Warren thomas needs to open his eyes to the fact that TBS profits go out of the country altogether… at least sobeys could help canadian GDP… and the craft breweries may get a piece too, which directly helps ontario economy far better than his lcbo does

    1. Johnny_Canuck

      ALL the profits go out of the country? So all the taxes paid, all the wages paid to the workers in the breweries, all the suppliers who provide materials and services are all non existent. There’s never been a dollar spent reinvesting in breweries or supply chain or people? Last time I checked the profits from every car manufacturer left the country, same as the profits from every oil company. I bet the manufacturer of your phone and your TV are out of country winners as well. When will this nonsense about out of country ownership end? We live in a global economy. At least the owners of The Beer Store make their products in Ontario. My guess you have an RRSP or investment of some kind. Go buy some stock and then you too can have a hand in “Foreign” ownership.

  5. chris kingston

    This is a stupid fraud its still all owned by foreign corps. Under beer store title and auctioning them off is like say the poor kids don’t deserve an opportunity to try and earn Thiers I’m willing to bet 290 of those liscences will go to stores owned by Weston’s they will just keep bidding put the competition. No make it all or none this is just an ugly corrupt cash grab.

  6. Joan

    TBS is run on a cost recovery basis – there are no profits. Do your research before you opine. Bottom line is wine and beer will get more expensive – do you really think all of these extra fees will be absorbed by they companies?


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