I just want to buy a bottle of wine

February 10, 2014

In 1927, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Brewers Retail Board were created in part to ease the regime of the temperance movement, and 87 years later we still have the same archaic views of alcohol sales.  The LCBO is very profitable for the Ontario government to the tune of billions of dollars and why would you want to get rid of that cash cow.  The Beer Store, who many believe is owned and operated by the Provincial Government, is actually owned by Molson Coors Brewing at 49%,Labatts a division of Anheuser-Busch Inbev at 49% and Sleeman Breweries, an arm of Sapporo Breweries at 2%.  The Beer Store sells 80% of the beer in Ontario, with the rest being sold by the LCBO and brewery direct selling.  Conveniently, the beer store has released a study that claims beer prices would increase by $10 for a 24 pack if they were sold in corner stores.  How reliable is a study with this result when the study is sponsored by the beer store.  It’s like saying I did a study that all 5 feet tall women are the best at everything.  The fact that I am 5 feet would have no bearing on the result.  This debate of selling alcohol at corner stores and grocery stores has been on the table of the provincial government for decades.  Every time an election is near, this issue comes up and yet no political party is courageous enough to have it on their platform.

According to the beer store,  the price of beer would increase by so much due to the cost of transportation and distribution.   The Beer Store operates its own fleet services, which means they provide all the delivery of their products to all licensed establishments.  They also charge for this service depending on your purchase amount.  How could this increase costs if they charge for the service. The establishment still pays.

Beer, wines and spirits are priced according to a minimum selling price.  This minimum price is used to guarantee profit to the provincial government, to support the domestic alcohol beverage industry and to control alcohol consumption.  All alcoholic products are subject to the excise tax, also known as a sin tax and this will never change.  When the PST and the GST were harmonized into the HST, tax on alcohol went from 15% to 13%, yet the price of the alcohol actually increased.  The LCBO and Beer stores increased their mark ups so that the prices remained high and  alcohol consumption would not increase.  The argument for not having beer and wine sell in corner stores is always the same.  Alcohol will be sold to minors; consumption will increase causing mayhem in the streets.  The province of Quebec sells alcoholic products in grocery stores and the prices are equivalent across the board. Provinces that allow sales of alcohol in corner stores do not show increases in crime or consumption by minors.  It does not make it easier to get alcohol; it just makes it more convenient.

How can we possibly want to be considered a cosmopolitan city, the likes of New York, Paris and London when we still treat our citizens like morons who are unable to purchase and consume alcohol without the government “assisting” us?  Occasionally when luck has it, I get to travel to the Azores and when I am grocery shopping I pick up my wine, beer and spirits at the same time.  I usually have to fight off all the minors and drunks who are creating mayhem at the same time.

Thank goodness for the Ontario Government, we are so much more civilized.







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