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Premier Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario/YouTube screen shot, May 24, 2024

Expanded beer/wine sales to be made sooner

By Randy Thoms May 24, 2024 | 1:29 PM

The provincial government is fast-tracking its plans to have convenience stores and more grocery and big-box stores sell beer and other alcoholic beverages.

This August, existing grocery and big box stores currently selling beer, cider or wine will be able to sell ready-to-drink beverages and 12, 24 and 30 packs of beer.

More grocery and big box stores are expected to be approved for similar sales on Hallowe’en.

After September 5, 2024, convenience stores approved by government will be able to sell beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.

The rollout was initially planned for 2026.

Premier Doug Ford says it is what people want.

“The response from the public, from stakeholders, from small businesses, has been absolutely, overwhelmingly positive,” says Ford.

“People are excited. They’re going to enjoy the same choice and convenience as other Canadians and other people right across the world, to buy a case of beer or a bottle of wine on the way up to the cottage, or maybe you’re going to start up the grill in the backyard or summer barbecue. They’re excited to hear that they’re finally being treated as adults.”

The Premier first proposed expanded beer and liquor sales in 2018.

Ford says the changes will create 8,500 new stores where consumers can purchase alcohol products.

As part of the announcement, the provincial government will provide The Beer Store with $225 million.

Ford says this allows for a stable transition to a more open and convenient marketplace.

“It’s not going directly to the beer stores. Where it’s going is to make sure that we protect the beer store employees, to make sure they know they’re going to be taken care of, going to audit every single penny to make sure it’s going in the right place.

Ford says The Beer Store and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) will continue to play a role in sales, recycling and distribution.

An agreement keeps The Beer Store responsible for accepting empty bottles for recycling until 2031.

The government says there are no plans to sell off the LCBO as it will remain the sole retailer of beverages like vodka, gin and whisky.