Not so quick with that toast

A 2001 survey by the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions showed Ontario has the second lowest beverage alcohol prices on average in Canada (New Brunswick was first). For wine, Ontario had the lowest prices on average.

The Financial Post
March 4, 2002

Not so quick with that toast
Chris Layton

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Don Martin's column, Raise a Glass to Alberta's Liquor Policy (Feb. 27) ignores key facts about the LCBO and beverage alcohol retail service in Ontario.

Ontario has 1,564 retail outlets where consumers can purchase beverage alcohol, 62% of which (964) are privately operated. This includes 600 LCBO stores, 107 LCBO agency stores and another 857 beer stores, Ontario winery stores, on-site distillery and brewery outlets and duty-free stores. The Ontario government has announced plans to add another 82 agency stores run by small businesses, bringing the number of beverage alcohol retail outlets in Ontario to 1,646, 64% run by the private sector. Alberta has 907 privately operated liquor stores in total.

More than 14,000 products were available to LCBO customers last year, either through LCBO retail stores or through various LCBO ordering programs. More than 430 LCBO stores offer a per store selection of 1,000 to 5,500 products. Per store selection in Alberta is considerably lower in most cases.

The Ontario government received more than $1.8-billion in beverage alcohol revenue last year, which includes the LCBO dividend transfer, PST and revenue from sources such as beer stores and licensing fees. This year, the LCBO is on track to deliver its seventh straight record transfer dividend of $905-million and another $270-million in PST to the province. By contrast, the government of Alberta can expect $490-million from its flat tax on beverage alcohol sales.

A 2001 survey by the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions showed Ontario has the second lowest beverage alcohol prices on average in Canada (New Brunswick was first). For wine, Ontario had the lowest prices on average.

Most intriguing is Mr. Martin's definition of "relief" in Alberta. According to him, when you run out of alcohol at a late-night party, relief is "a strip mall away" where you'll find "a McBooze outlet open for business until 2 a.m." Those who have concerns about alcohol abuse don't necessarily view this as a good thing.

Chris Layton, LCBO media relations co-ordinator, Toronto.


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