TORONTO — Tim Hudak, leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party, has re-opened the debate on privatizing liquor sales, arguing that it’s time to “end the LCBO and Beer Store monopolies” and make alcohol available for sale in corner stores and grocery stores throughout Ontario.
The Toronto-based Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) applauded Hudak’s position, citing numerous benefits to the restaurant industry.
“Even though Ontario’s 30,000 restaurants are the LCBO’s largest customer, selection and wholesale pricing are unavailable to them,” said Stephanie Jones, VP, Ontario for the CRFA. “Distribution decisions are determined without their input, and instead based on an outdated bureaucracy. Do you know any other business that operates this way and survives? This is a non-partisan issue. The LCBO needs to be held accountable to its customers.”
On the other hand, Ontario might stand to lose a healthy revenue stream by dismantling the LCBO, said Trish Hennessy, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario office, in a response published on theStar.com. “Nearly $13 billion in LCBO dividends has gone to the province over the past decade. It doesn’t make sense for the Ontario government to give up such a healthy stream of revenue, especially while it’s paying down the deficit it incurred due in large part to the global recession.”
Alcohol is sold in privately owned liquor stores and supermarkets in British Columbia and Alberta, and beer and wine can be sold at corner stores and supermarkets in Quebec.