Where to Buy Booze in Canada: A Spirited Snapshot

Posted on October 23, 2013 by Michael Benarroch

Where to Buy Booze in Canada: A Spirited Snapshot

Posted on October 23, 2013 by Michael Benarroch

The argument around which retailers should have the right to sell hooch in this country is exasperating, emotional and enduring. Recent developments make the subject ripe for a recap.


Herewith, an inventory of the most up-to-date deets on the evolving subject of alcohol retailing in Canada:

• Under the Canadian Constitution, the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages is the sole responsibility of the provinces.

 • Alberta became the first Canadian jurisdiction to privatize liquor retailing, warehousing and distribution in 1993. It remains the only one to have completely privatized its retail liquor industry.

 • Wine and beer are sold in convenience stores in Quebec.

• Saskatchewan just joined BC and Nova Scotia with the introduction of a more liberal private-public liquor-store system.

• In BC, a new proposal designed to overhaul the province’s liquor laws has sparked fresh debate on the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets and convenience stores.

• 670 private liquor stores currently operate in BC.

• An Ontario Convenience Stores Association survey found that 67 percent of Ontarians want to be able to purchase beer, wine and spirits at their local convenience store.

• Ontarians bought some $9.5 billion in alcohol last year.

• Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has insinuated that she’s prepared to entertain more liberal liquor-sale laws in a bid to boost Ontario’s wine industry.

• The LCBO operates three new “boutiques” that hawk VQA Ontario craft wines.

• Select Ontario supermarkets will soon feature LCBO “express stores.”

Mac’s Convenience Stores has declared that it will build 27 ultra-modern, $2-million stores across the province within two years of being granted the right to sell beer, wine and spirits at its 547 Ontario stores.

• Mac’s already operates two flagship “agency” stores —one in Thamesford, one in Craigleith — that are permitted to sell alcohol.