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Letter: No need to continue Beer Store monopoly

Re: Letter “ Selling alcohol in corner stores could be harmful ,” which appeared in the May 6 edition of Northern Life.
Re: Letter “Selling alcohol in corner stores could be harmful,” which appeared in the May 6 edition of Northern Life.

The ongoing debate by Beer Store employees that they are the only retailer who should be allowed to control the sale of beer in Ontario is defenceless.

Three foreign multi-national companies have had a monopoly on beer sales, profits, listings and competition for more than 87 years.

It is now time for an open, transparent and competitive market like we see in every other jurisdiction in North America.

Let us share some basic facts instead of the myths offered by the Beer Stores:

1) Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America where private brewers operate a retail monopoly.

2) The Beer Store’s owners are Molson Coors (U.S.), Anheuser Busch Inbev (Belgium), Sapporo (Japan).

3) Ontario’s convenience stores have had decades of experience selling alcohol as LCBO Agency Stores where more than 200 convenience stores already sell alcohol.

4) The Ontario government earns $1.7 billion in non-tax revenue from the LCBO, but nothing from The Beer Store. If the LCBO acts as wholesaler and opens up retailing to more agency stores, the province could grow revenue it gets from LCBO without having to spend any extra capital.

5) Convenience stores do a better job than The Beer Store at keeping age-restricted products away from minors and share the data (Statopex). We pass at 95 per cent and challenge the writer to share TBS data? Local health units and the AGCO oversee age testing in all C Stores while The Beer Store is self-regulated with no government oversight.

6) Despite fewer restrictions on alcohol sales in recent years, impaired driving rates in Ontario have fallen 30 per cent since 2001.

7) Adding beer to the existing distribution system for convenience stores can be done responsibly and allows increase convenience for customers.

8) C Stores have offered to set aside 30 per cent of the beer space for Ontario Craft Beers to help the small brewers develop in each area of Ontario and not limit the shelf by having large listing fees to discourage Craft Brewers.

9) There are no beer stores in Quebec and C Stores have sold the beer for more than 40 years responsibly and handled all the returns in over 6,000 locations.

Ontarians don’t need the Beer Store nanny state, nor should they allow three foreign companies to control our choice of products and continue to inconvenience all Ontarians with a fear-mongering and insulting campaign that has demonstrated their only need: profits for their owners.

Dave Bryans
CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association