Wynne rejects call to sell craft beer and local wines in convenience stores
Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario's Liberal government has no plans to allow the sale of beer and wine in corner stores.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association -- which includes Avondale, 7-11 and Mac's as well as Petro-Canada, Imperial Oil and Canadian Tire -- wants to sell local wines and craft beers.
Wynne says the government will expand the availability of Ontario beers and wines in specialty stores, but won't agree to making them available in convenience stores.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the Liberals will also put LCBO outlets in 10 grocery stores as a pilot project.
Sousa says the government-run liquor stores and the foreign-owned Beer Store do a good job of keeping minors from buying booze.
The Progressive Conservatives have released a white paper calling for the expansion of beer and wine sales to privately owned retail outlets.
But the New Democrats say they support the government's position that the LCBO provides good services and product selection in a socially responsible manner, and there's no need to expand beer and wine sales to corner stores.
"You look at LCBO stores you have great choice of products, you've got affordability and it's really a service that's responsible in regards to how you sell alcohol," said NDP house leader Gilles Bisson. "We have to take our responsibility when it comes to alcohol to make sure that only those people of age are able to buy it."
The convenience stores association also wants the province to restrict what products the Beer Store can sell, complaining some locations offer "confectionery goods, clothing, gift cards, and barbecue paraphernalia" such as propane tanks.
"The fact that The Beer Store was granted a monopoly in this province to sell beer products, rightly or wrongly, should be reason enough to limit them from competing with businesses that currently do not have the same government granted ability," the association said in a submission to Ontario's Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
"In not prescribing a set list that is considered fair by our sector, The Beer Store will always have the potential to become 'convenience stores that sell beer' and put legitimate family run stores out of business."
There are already 219 LCBO agency stores inside convenience stores in communities that aren't large enough to support a regular liquor store, and the Liberals plan to put LCBO Express outlets in 10 grocery stores as a pilot project.
The government has also been "investing heavily" to promote the sales of Vintners' Quality Alliance wines through private stores, added Sousa.
"In fact, we just came out with new boutique stores that highlight home grown wines and local craft beers," he said.
The Convenience Stores' Association said it represents 10,000 retailers employing about 75,000 people across Ontario.