ontario alcohol laws

Ontario government urged to expand beer and booze sales to farmers' markets

Doug Ford's PC government has done much to loosen the rules surrounding alcohol consumption "for the people" of Ontario since coming into power last summer — more so than anything else, some might argue.

But it's not nearly enough, if you ask business leaders within the province.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) just published a 33-page-long report flush with recommendations on how to "modernize the sale and distribution of beverage alcohol" in Ontario.

Among the independent advocacy group's recommendations for the sales of beer, wine, spirits and cider are:

  • Allowing alcohol producers to sell their products online. 
  • Allowing consumers to purchase booze online using third-party payment processors, both in general and from other provinces.
  • Make an exemption to let airports sell alcohol 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.
  • Reducing taxes on all Ontario wines, applying a "graduated tax" to spirits and taxing craft cider at the same rate as craft beer.
  • Allowing producers of beer and alcohol that have retail stores to sell their drinks at farmers' markets.
  • Developing "comprehensive and targeted public education campaigns" warning of potential health and social harms associated with alcohol consumption.
  • Reducing the number of bee colonies mead producers must have per year from 100 to 50.

"In 2019, the Government of Ontario is closer than ever to bringing
about substantive reforms to the sale and distribution of beverage
alcohol," reads the OCC's report. "While the desire to modernize the sale of beverage alcohol in this province is warranted, it is not new. 

The report goes on to commend the changes proposed in Ontario's 2019 budget, such as the creation of a tailgating event permit, the extension of alcohol serving hours and the expansion of beer into corner stores.

It also, however, says that these reforms "do little to address the fundamental inequities as it pertains to beverage alcohol producers across all four categories — wine, beer, cider, and spirits."

"Rather than focusing efforts on beer alone, the Province should also focus on the important contributions of wine, cider, and spirits producers, for whom it takes years and significant investment to produce a batch of alcohol and generate profit," the report concludes.

"By getting the modernization process right, the government could unlock economic growth and generate greater tax revenue to fund the public services Ontarians rely on."

Lead photo by

Jason Cook

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