Ontario finance minister not ruling out selling alcohol in convenience stores

TORONTO – Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa isn’t ruling out the sale of alcohol in convenience stores.

Asked repeatedly whether he’d allow convenience stores to sell booze, Sousa wouldn’t close the door to the change, which the governing Liberals have repeatedly rebuffed.

The minister says the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is expanding its reach into grocery stores and adding more retail stores.

But he says he’ll always be looking at alternatives that would support the province’s economy.

Ontario is facing an $11.7-billion deficit, which the Liberals have promised to eliminate by 2017-18.

Sousa’s comments came after Mac’s Convenience Stores said it would create 1,600 full-time jobs if its Ontario stores were allowed to sell beer, wine and spirits.

The chain owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) made a pitch for selling booze at its 547 stores in Ontario on Wednesday, saying it’s something continually asked for by customers.

A study commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association found that the Ontario government would receive increased revenues if alcohol sales were permitted in convenience stores.

Mac’s vice-president Tom Moher said sales at its two agency stores in Thamesford, Ont. and Craigleith that are allowed to sell alcohol have significantly higher sales and require more staff to handle the extra demand.

Retailers operate some 219 agency stores in communities without large enough population bases to support regular government-owned LCBO stores.

Moher said the private sector can build facilities to sell beer, wine and spirits, saving the LCBO from such endeavours.

The provincial Liberals announced a pilot program to sell liquor and wine in 10 grocery stores. The Crown corporation will set up Express stores later this year.

The LCBO turned over $1.65 billion to the province last year, excluding taxes.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says the province should allow beer, wine and spirits to be sold in corner stores and has also floated the idea of selling part or all of the LCBO.

Quebec-based Couche-Tard operates 665 corporate stores in Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, that sell beer. The company also sells beer at 3,000 stores in the United States, and 1,400 in Europe.

Couche-Tard is Canada’s largest convenience store operator and the second-largest in North America with more than $15.9 million in annual revenues and about 53,000 employees around the world.




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Ontario finance minister not ruling out selling alcohol in convenience stores

  1. I’ve never really understood why there’s a ban on alcohol in such places. The big worry I hear is that it makes it too easy for kids to get.

    To which my response is, “And if they get it, then what? They’ll drink and mess up their judgment? The reason they’re not considered adults is because they (generally) don’t have good judgment as it is, not really sure how alcohol will make that worse.”

    • I don’t understand why every store has to sell everything….

      • They don’t. But they shouldn’t be barred from selling certain things either.

        • ??? No stores can sell pot….most can’t sell cigs….or be open on Xmas

          711 wine is not a great thing to be promoting. Mac’s milk and booze isn’t either. They would likely have swarming

          Grocery stores in Ont stock wine….just one kind though so far.

          • My mistake. I assumed you had a modicum of intelligence, and so would understand the difference between items that we are legally allowed to own in general, and those that we are not.

            Understanding now that this is incorrect, I’ll try to drill down to the more basic concepts that I’m getting at in hopes that you might be able to understand:

            If it can be legally sold to the general public, why can it not be legally sold in any store open to the general public?

            I can certainly understand restrictions placed on the sale of things.. ie, can’t sell cigs to kids, etc. Can’t sell booze to kids. Fine. Why does it matter what particular store we don’t sell these things to kids from?

          • My mistake, I assumed you knew how the law works….and that it can ban anything it likes.

            And I assumed you understood how convenience stores in neighbourhoods worked….and what swarming is.

          • Well of course it can. The point of the post was “why would it?”

          • We’ve heard this line many times before, and it never happens.

            There’s no real reason why it should.

          • Swarming is what happens when you, Jan and Holly Stick all join the same comment thread. But what does that have to do with alcohol sales in convenience stores?

          • LOL yeah cuz Cons never all jump on one thread.

          • My mistake. I assumed you had a modicum of intelligence…

            And what a mistake it was.

          • Just noticing that seems to be my new phrase for the week. Ugh.

            On the bright side, at least it’s better than “And make no mistake..”

    • Ya. Why don’t we just start letting them sell crack to kids also. Kids are stupid anyway, so who cares.

      • Hm. Did I say we let them sell alcohol to kids?
        No.. no.. it doesn’t look like I did.

        Perhaps you should learn to read.

        Once you’ve done that. Perhaps you should learn to think, and that would enable you to perhaps understand the difference between something that is legal for people to have vs something that is not.

  2. It’s not about availability it’s about price for me.
    Why can I by a 1.44 litre of CC at Duty free for $25 yet at LCBO it cost $57?
    This is a monopoly of price controls which would be illegal in every single other industry except the ones controlled by the government.
    If I had the money to do it, I’d take the province to the Supreme Court for stifling consumer choice and anti-competitive practices.
    I admit the choice at LCBO is good, but it does not carry everything I want to buy and I have no alternative to get what I want.
    So choice and price are seriously impacting the consumers of Ontario.

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