Today, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance, announced the Government of Ontario is putting people first and moving forward to fulfill its commitment to increase choice, convenience and fairness for alcohol consumers.
The government plans to introduce legislation that would, if passed and proclaimed, terminate the previous governments unfair agreement with the Beer Store, allowing Ontarios government to expand alcohol sales to corner, big-box, and more grocery stores while protecting taxpayers.
“The unfair agreement with the Beer Store puts the interests of three large global brewers ahead of Ontario consumers, taxpayers and small businesses,” said Fedeli. “Its a bad deal for people in Ontario who want more choice and convenience, and its deeply unfair to businesses who want to compete in this sector.”
Today, the government released a report delivered by Ken Hughes, Ontarios Special Advisor for the Beverage Alcohol Review. It details the inconvenience and unfairness of the current system for everyday Ontario consumers, and identified the agreement with the Beer Store and its private owners as the primary obstacle to achieving a more fair and convenient alcohol retail system in Ontario.
“Many of the current challenges with alcohol retail in Ontario stem from the 2015 Master Framework Agreement signed by the previous government, the Beer Store and the three large global brewers who own it,” said Ken Hughes, Special Advisor for the Beverage Alcohol Review. “Because of it, many small businesses are shut out of alcohol retail, and the economic benefits that could come from an expanded market.”
Ontarios Government for the People looks forward to continuing discussions with the Beer Store with the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable amendment that will improve choice and convenience.
“Its my hope the multinational brewers who own the Beer Store will put the interest of their customers and Ontarians first and join us as we build a modern, equitable system that opens up more places to buy beer while we create a model that also allows small businesses to grow and create jobs,” concluded Fedeli.
The vast majority of The Beer Store is owned by Molson, Labatt and Sleeman — all three are controlled by foreign multinational corporations — while a very small percentage of the distributor is owned by 30 Ontario-based brewers.
TORONTO – The Progressive Conservative government plans to rip up an agreement with The Beer Store in order to allow the sale of beer and wine in corner stores, but employees with the alcohol retailer are warning the move will come with a steep cost.
The government tabled legislation Monday that would terminate a 10-year contract with The Beer Store that was signed by the previous Liberal government. The deal permitted an expansion of beer and wine sales to hundreds of grocery stores.
Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly indicated he plans to put beer and wine in corner stores, but he has to break that agreement to do so. While tabling Monday’s bill, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the current system is a monopoly that is a bad deal for consumers and businesses.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has called the current system a monopoly that is a bad deal for consumers and businesses.
READ MORE: Beer Store launches ad campaign against Ford government as debate around alcohol sales intensifies
The Progressive Conservatives have tabled legislation to end the contract put in place by the Liberals.
“The province’s current beer distribution system is owned by three global giants who were handed a sweetheart deal by the previous government, and who are more interested in protecting profits than providing convenience or choice for average people,” Fedeli said.
The Beer Store and its union have been embarking on a public relations campaign to push back against having beer in corner stores, with the brewers taking out an ad saying they keep prices down with their distribution system, and the union taking out ads warning that cancelling the Beer Store’s deal could cost taxpayers a lot.
Video: Beer Store battle: what will it cost taxpayers?
In a statement sent to Global News Monday afternoon, Beer Store President Ted Moroz said the company is reviewing legislative details related to the agreement and is considering legal options.
The government cannot extinguish our right to damages as outlined in the Master Framework Agreement. It is critical to understand that The Beer Store has, in good faith, based on a legally-negotiated 10-year operating agreement with the Province of Ontario, invested more than $100 million to modernize its stores and to continue to upgrade the consumer experience,” Moroz wrote.
[The Beer Store] will fight this legislation vigorously through the courts and we remain committed to protecting the 7,000 Ontarians who work at The Beer Store and rely on these jobs to support their families.
The United Food and Commercial Workers local representing Beer Store employees said Monday that the government’s decision could cost thousands of jobs.
“We will fight this government and this premier to keep our jobs and to save the taxpayers the billions Ford is willing to pay to put beer in corner stores,” president John Nock said in a statement.
On Friday, the province’s special adviser on alcohol delivered a report to Fedeli on ways to improve consumer choice and convenience.
The Tories have also announced a number of loosened alcohol restrictions, including allowing alcohol to be served at 9 a.m., seven days a week, letting people consume booze in parks, and legalizing tailgating parties near sports events.
#BREAKING: @globalnewsto has obtained the letter lawyers for multiple breweries just sent Attorney General @C_Mulroney in response to @fordnation move to rip up @TheBeerStoreON contract #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/ZjtjWSXzl3