Ontario government officially expands beer sales to convenience stores
It may end up costing you a fortune (both at the cash register and in taxes), but Doug Ford's PC government is moving forward with its plan to bring alcohol to convenience stores across Ontario, despite many, many warnings against it from industry sources and experts.
Legislation just passed at Queen's Park to cancel the Ontario government's existing 10-year contract with the Beer Store — a move that will make it possible for corner stores to sell beer, but is also expected to cost the province up to $1 billion in legal penalties.
The bill received Royal Assent on Thursday afternoon, but will not become law until it has been proclaimed by the government. Being that said government is now on vacation until October, it's unlikely that we'll see booze in bodegas anytime in the immediate future.
Provincial officials seem stoked and ready to go, nonetheless.
"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 Ontario Minister Vic Fedeli during a press conference on Thursday.
"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."
Here’s how the Beer Store is responding to the bill’s passage: “over the last three months, the Beer Store, brewers and the Government of Ontario have been attempting, in good faith, to negotiate amendments to the agreement in order to address the objectives of the government.” pic.twitter.com/zsDXk4wn1J— Marieke Walsh (@MariekeWalsh) June 6, 2019
The first step, according to Fedeli, is authorizing "nearly 300 additional stores to sell alcohol" across Ontario. These locations will be a mixture of corner stores, big-box stores and 87 more grocery stores.
We can also expect to see 60 new "LCBO Convenience Outlets" open in Ontario this August. By the end of 2019, officials say the province will have as many as 150 new LCBO locations "with additional stores opening in spring 2020."
So, uh, take that, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I guess.
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