STUDY: Allowing private business to sell booze would generate more money for Province

The study by the C-D Howe Institute also says more competition would lower prices for consumers

A new report says Ontario could make more money from booze sales if it opened up the business to more retailers. The study by the C-D Howe Institute also says more competition would lower prices for consumers.

It says the government is actually foregoing revenue by preserving its virtual monopoly on the sale of alcohol.

It says Western provinces with more competition had seven per cent more per capita in provincial alcohol profits than those with government-run monopolies.

The report recommends that Ontario allow wine and beer sales in grocery and convenience stores and licence other retail outlets to sell beer. It also says the government should allow all wine retailers to have their own off-winery stores.

``These changes would increase the choices available and reduce prices for Ontario consumers, as well as improve the competitiveness of Ontario's smaller wineries and breweries and generate more revenue for the government,'' it said.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that limits off-site liquor sales to a chain of government stores, a single private beer retailer and a fixed number of off-winery wine stores, the report said.

The publicly owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which pours about $2.5 billion into provincial and federal coffers each year, sells hard liquor as well as beer and wine.

The Beer Store, run by three foreign-owned brewers, also has a quasi-monopoly of beer sales and retail distribution. It generates about $1 billion for the province in taxes.

The high costs of the LCBO _ including salaries and benefits for employees _ are unlikely to shrink without more competition, the report said.

The governing Liberals recently allowed Ontario wine sales in farmer's markets and are experimenting with selling domestic wine in a small number of LCBO boutiques in grocery stores. But they have steadfastly refused to open up sales of wine and beer in the vast majority of convenience and grocery stores, citing social responsibility.

Other provinces have moved away from monopolies, the report said. Quebec allows wine and beer sales in grocery and convenience stores, British Columbia will allow liquor sales in grocery stores next year and Alberta privatized the sale of alcohol 20 years ago.

Almost all retail alcohol in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba is sold in government-run stores, the report said. But Manitoba and Saskatchewan allow take-away beer sales in licensed hotels and Saskatchewan said it will allow a limited number of privately held stores to sell booze.

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  1. Mike from the hinterland posted on 08/20/2014 07:20 AM
    Social responsibility BS. In the hinterland in Bruce county in Tiverton, Inverhuron, etc. there are already franchise beer and liquor stores in local convenience and general stores. In the Northern Ontario, there are similar franchises.

    There was no moral breakdown in society and it saves a round trip of 80kms to the purchase wine for dinner. In fact, the local store owners know the kids in the area and do just as good of job not giving alcohol to minors. In fact it is a benefit for these local store owners are benefitting by increased foot traffic.

    You would think the Wynne fiberal Libranos who are also looking for revenue would jump on this to increase their revenues.
    1. AbbyW posted on 08/20/2014 07:45 AM
      @Mike from the hinterland If the Liberals weren't liars they'd admit the monopoly is intended to maintain income for the province. Of course if they had any business sense they'd understand they could make more by privatizing as they still receive the taxes and they'd be able to eliminate the bloated expenses of the LCBO as no private enterprise could exist with LCBO expenses.
  2. Jack posted on 08/20/2014 10:13 AM
    Until the Ontario government catches up to the rest of Canada and lets the private sector break the Beer Store and LCBO monopolies, we do have some options.

    Farmers Markets, such as the St Lawrence Market in Toronto, and chain store The Wine Rack are an option for buying wine without supporting the government monopoly. Also, there is always the option of brewing your own at home or in specialty stores; I have no information on how affordable that is, though.

    Beer, on the other hand, I can talk about. My fiancee happened to give me a Mr Beer brewing kit for my birthday, and since then I haven't bought a single bottle from the cartel-owned Beer Store. With a simple recipe and a small investment in equipment, you can brew gallons of beer for something like 66 cents per pint.
    1. Jack posted on 08/20/2014 12:03 PM
      @Jack If anyone is interested in more information, you can check out Brew Wiki and the Homebrew Talk Forums; also, I find Ontario Beer Kegs to be a pretty good source for ingredients.
  3. frankling posted on 08/20/2014 11:28 AM
    Gov. has no legitimacy to be in this sector anymore, especially to gouge the public.
  4. AbbyW posted on 08/20/2014 01:18 PM
    Another nanny state concept of the LCBO is to have minimum pricing on alcohol to supposedly reduce abuse. If the Ontario government is so concerned about abuse from cheap products why not legislate the same for fast food, fattening foods, etc.?

    I like the idea of my life being controlled by a party that has "stolen", lied, and mismanaged this province towards fiscal ruin.

    They must know best and we're fools to question them.
  5. IBLeaf posted on 08/20/2014 01:39 PM
    Answer: Flush it right down the toilet.

    Question: What will the Liberals do when they get a hold of this study?
  6. Murray_2008 posted on 08/20/2014 02:39 PM
    Premier Dad, and now Premier Mom, know what’s best for us. Only a $25 per hour cashier at the LCBO can save our kids from turning into drunks because those greedy convenience store owners will sell to anyone (even though they are trusted to sell lotto and tobacco, which are age restricted). Did you see that commercial where the big white convenience store owner was yukking it up with those teenagers, gleefully accepting their money for the booze? It has nothing to do with money, it’s all about the kids. Right.
    1. AbbyW posted on 08/20/2014 02:46 PM
      @Murray_2008 Convenience store owners face fines and risk their livelihood if they sell to minors, so they're motivated to follow the law.

      LCBO workers face NOTHING if caught so they have less incentive to follow the law, and let's not forget the 15 year-old boy who dressed up in a niqab and bought alcohol in 3 stores. Nothing happened to those employees.

      The ad is a union tactic to keep their overpaid and bloated jobs and pensions.
    2. Murray_2008 posted on 08/20/2014 03:07 PM
      @AbbyW I agree...not sure if you realized I was being sarcastic.
    3. AbbyW posted on 08/20/2014 04:40 PM
      @Murray_2008 of course I did
  7. dama posted on 08/20/2014 03:12 PM
    Reports pertaining to this come up every 5 to 6 years.and the have been talking about this for decades.. . flogging a dead horse.really.

    No government will let corner or grocery stores sell beer or wine if it is not CONTROLLED by the LCBO or Beer store.. the recent partnerships with some Loblaw stores attest to that.. so, consumer will not enjoy lowering price of beer..
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