Ontario may soon allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine
On the heels of Toronto City Council's move to permit alcohol consumption in some Toronto parks this summer as part of a pilot program, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has vowed to finally get beer and wine into convenience stores, which is something he had committed to back in 2018 and had started to put into motion the following year.
The leader was questioned on the topic in a press briefing on Monday, and confirmed that his aim is still to expand the list of where one can purchase adult beverages to stores like Costco, Walmart, Sobeys, and other big box stores, as well as corner stores.
"We're going to be working with [the Beer Store], and our goal is to make sure that there's beer and wine sold at the big retailers... and the convenience stores. We're going to fulfill that promise," he said.
Convenience stores call on Ontario to allow beer and wine sales in their shops https://t.co/BX0M54BmZ9 #Ontario— blogTO (@blogTO) October 7, 2021
Under Ford, Ontario has already seen hundreds of locations of supermarkets like Loblaws and Metro begin carrying some booze — no spirits, but beers, ciders and wine at some — with 7-Eleven also planning to expand its alcohol service from one store to 60 others.
This is along with his "buck-a-beer" initiative, which lowered the legal cost of one beer in Ontario to $1, though only some breweries jumped on board.
As far as the timeline for making libations more widely available, Ford reminded residents that the Beer Store is privately- and not government-owned, and that there is an existing agreement with the retailer that needs to be broken in order for the plan to come into effect.
Take the greenbelt. Give us beer. That just about sums up @fordnation.— Leslie (@LeslieF152) May 15, 2023
"I have to be aware that there is a contract with the Beer Stores... they're owned by three massive beer companies — foreign, may I add, foreign beer companies," he said, adding that he "doesn't think that monopoly's right."
With 450 outlets across the province, the Beer Store is owned by Labatt Brewing Company (Anheuser-Busch), Molson Coors Beverage Company, and to a lesser degree, Sleeman Breweries (Sapporo Breweries). Brewers outside this list have to pay a fee for their product to be available in-store, which is thankfully lower for smaller entities.
Focusing on priorities…good for you, Dougie!— SandyT (@sassygirlcanada) May 15, 2023
Though some may be happy with the news that purchasing these products will become more convenient, the response thus far has largely been negative, with constituents wishing that Ford would tackle other, more important issues instead, such as the healthcare system, rent and grocery prices, and environmental issues.
Don't care! What about affordable rent & restricting greedy landlords from outrageous increases. The Rent Guideline must be for all of Ontario— 🇬🇧 🌹Debbie 🇬🇧🌹 (@DebbieGBUK) May 15, 2023
"Don’t we have better things to focus our attention on?!" one person asked in response to the news on Twitter.
"Take the greenbelt. Give us beer. That just about sums up [Doug Ford]," another added.
I honestly don't care if beer and wine are available in convenience stores in Ontario. They've been available in depanneurs in Quebec for decades. But I do care that this government makes alcohol a consistent priority instead of say, healthcare.— Peggy Blair (@peggy_blair) May 16, 2023
Still others noted that an even better idea would be one that is already in action in many rural Ontario townships provincewide, where many Beer Stores and LCBOs exist as separate entities inside convenience store locations.
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