Ontario’s Beer Store monopoly said on Monday opening up beer and wine sales to competing convenience store operators in the province would drive up prices for consumers.
The Beer Store – which is owned by three private multinational brewers in Molson Coors, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Sapporo – said deregulation in Alberta and British Columbia has had the effect of lifting prices there, pointing to research it commissioned.
Using a standard case of Molson Canadian, we’ve taken a quick trip around the country and compared prices between provinces.
It was harder than it sounds: Though sold universally across Canada, there isn’t a standardized Canadian product sold through every province (a 24-pack of 341ml bottles, for example).
In Western Canada, 351ml cans appear to be the only choice for consumers. In Atlantic Canada, meanwhile, only 20- or 12- or 8-packs seem to be available. Nevertheless, we’ve cobbled together a chart comparing retail prices (see below).
What’s clear from the quick comparison? Quebec, which has allowed beer and wine sales in corner stores and supermarkets for years, seems to be a genuine outlier compared to the rest of the country, a wonderfully less-expensive one where the price of a 24-pack of cans or bottles (of Canadian) sells for about $27.
Beer prices in Ontario and British Columbia are also somewhat comparable (though a bit higher in Ontario), despite the fact that B.C. is unregulated and Ontario retail sales remain controlled by the three-brewer monopoly and the province’s liquor control board.
The most expensive place in Canada to buy a 24 of Canadian? Downtown Yellowknife, where a Liquor Store clerk told Global News a case of bottles is $56.65 (no cans available).
And for the rest of the country, a case of Canadian costs between $40 and $47, cans or bottles.
Here are the sources for the provincial liquor control boards and private distributors we sourced pricing information from: B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Yukon and Northwest Territories.