‘Level playing field’ for B.C. liquor stores

BCGEU welcomes possible Sunday openings, more fridges in government stores to compete with private retailers

Attorney General Suzanne Anton says private stores have been calling for equal treatment from the province's wholesale liquor monopoly.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton says private stores have been calling for equal treatment from the province's wholesale liquor monopoly.

VICTORIA – B.C. government liquor stores are losing their wholesale price advantage next spring, but will also have the option of opening Sundays and evenings with chilled offerings to help them compete with private stores.

The change to a single wholesale price for every product takes effect April 1, the same date B.C. is permitting private or government liquor sales in separate facilities inside grocery stores.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton said the change is to create a “level playing field” for liquor retailing in B.C., after private store operators complained that the existing system gave government stores an unfair price advantage.

Currently the Liquor Distribution Branch, the government monopoly wholesaler, sells products to government stores at cost and sets a minimum price for all retailers. The wholesale price for private retail stores is 16 per cent less than that retail price, rural agency stores pay 12 per cent less, and stores that sell only B.C. wine get a 30 per cent discount.

A new wholesale price structure for the thousands of products sold in liquor stores will be the same for all retailers, set to retain the $1 billion in revenues the province takes in annually from liquor sales. Anton said she doesn’t expect substantial changes in retail prices.

The B.C. Government Employees Union, representing government liquor store staff, welcomed the Sunday openings and increased hours to help their stores compete.

“The move to a single wholesale price will only be in the public interest if it protects and expands over time provincial revenue,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

Premier Christy Clark said the government’s liquor policy review showed “people really like their government liquor stores” because of the wide selection and well-trained staff. Clark agreed with Smith that government stores are well positioned to compete with private outlets, which are generally not unionized and pay lower wages.

The government is also changing its tax system for breweries to eliminate the steep increase that applies when small breweries reach a certain level of production. Anton said that is designed to encourage growth of craft breweries, which currently employ 2,500 people in B.C.

Liquor Distribution Branch officials are also working on a system of higher prices for high-alcohol beverages, a measure long recommended by Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall to discourage overconsumption.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Most Read