Ford hints at The Beer Store changes in favour of ‘convenience’ for Ontario shoppers

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Published November 24, 2023 at 11:24 am

the beer store ontario

The Beer Store model could soon see some changes as Ontario works to bring beer to grocery stores and other shops in Ontario.

The idea to bring beer and wine to convenience stores across Ontario was one of Premier Doug Ford’s 2018 campaign promises.

When it comes to beer sales in Ontario, The Beer Store has long held the monopoly in the market. A group of Ontario-based brewers founded the store in 1927 just after prohibition ended.

These days, however, two multinational companies — Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch InBev (owner of Labatt) — own a majority of The Beer Store. There are 424 locations across Ontario.

Smaller craft breweries have long argued the system is unfair.

This week, news organizations reported a possible end of The Beer Store agreement.

The current agreement, known as Master Framework Agreement, between the province and The Beer Store expires in 2025. And sources said Ontario will give notice by the end of December that it intends to terminate this agreement.

But at a news conference today (Nov. 24) in Mississauga, Premier Doug Ford indicated The Beer Store will not close.

“We’re working alongside with The Beer Store,” Ford said. “We’re in negotiations and we’re going to keep our promise to make sure we have convenience and selection across the province like you see across the entire world.”

Ford said the government wants to be fair to The Beer Store.

“The Beer Store will play an important role in the whole system,” he said.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health opposes selling alcohol in more convenient locations.

“Extensive international research has demonstrated that the ease with which alcohol can be obtained—where, when and by whom— has an impact on levels of consumption; in turn, alcohol consumption levels correlate with harm at the population level,” the Centre wrote in a 2019 report.

But Ford said selling beer and wine to convenience and grocery stores is common around the world.

“We are the only jurisdiction in the entire world that you can’t go into the retail store and buy a case of beer in a bottle of wine when you’re buying a steak for dinner or whatever you’re buying,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense. So we’re moving forward with this.”

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