Ontario looks to loosen rules on sale of booze

QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford’s strapped government is looking to the sins of a few to help bail out a province deep in debt.

Ontario is looking to bolster is books with more booze sales, which translates into sin taxes for copious consumers.

Ontario is inviting consumers and businesses to share their views on how beverage alcohol choice and convenience can be increased in the province.

That would lead to a larger government consumption take — or sin tax as its known.

Is this Christmas cheer from jolly, ol’ Ford or a lump of coal from a Scrooge government?

“Our plan has been clear when it comes to expanding options for the sale and consumption of beverage alcohol in Ontario. Today, we are moving forward on the promise to improve customer convenience and choice and enable more opportunities for businesses,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance in a release.

As part of its commitment to transforming alcohol sales, Ontario wants input on a number of areas, including:

  • Improving the rules for how beer, cider, wine and spirits are sold and consumed
  • Allowing new types of stores, including corner stores and big-box stores, and more grocery stores, to sell these products
  • Creating more opportunities for private sector sellers and distributors
  • Ensuring communities are kept safe and healthy.

Ontario Launches Consultations on Alcohol Choice and Convenience

Take the survey at https://www.ontario.ca/form/alcohol-choice-and-convenience-for-the-people-survey

The first phase of this review includes a public consultation to provide consumers and businesses with the opportunity to share their views on increasing choice and convenience around the sale and consumption of beverage alcohol.

Businesses and consumers over the legal drinking age of 19 are invited to share their views by visiting Ontario.ca/AlcoholConsultations and providing input no later than Feb. 1.

The government will also be inviting key groups to participate in roundtable discussions to ensure their valuable advice helps inform this review, including those representing beverage alcohol producers, public health and safety organizations, retailers, municipalities, consumer groups, and restaurants and bars.

“Our government is listening to the people of Ontario,” said Fedeli. “Our government is committed to respecting adult consumers by trusting them to make responsible choices that work for them. Alcohol reform is something long-desired by the people of Ontario.”

The consultation delivers on the government’s promise outlined in the fall fiscal update to put consumers first in addition to the following changes:

As of December 2, 2018, Ontario has increased convenience and choice by letting the Beer Store, LCBO and other authorized retail outlets, such as grocery stores and agency stores, sell alcohol from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.

The government says — again with no evidence — that it is also saving Ontario beer consumers money by bringing back buck-a-beer. As well it is stopping the previous government’s three-cents-per-litre beer tax hike.

You can share your views on the sale and consumption of beverage alcohol by visiting ontario.ca/alcoholconsultations.