WATCH ABOVE: Premier Kathleen Wynne says the monopoly on beer in the province is now over as up to 450 stores will begin selling beer. Marianne Dimain reports.
TORONTO – Beer sales will soon be coming to a supermarket near you as Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Thursday the sale of beer in up to 450 grocery stores across the province.
Ontario’s Liberal government will also revamp the foreign-owned Beer Store that will bring in $100 million a year through a “volumetric tax or markup” on all beer sold in Ontario.
“When it comes to the sale of beer in Ontario, I’m here to announce that the status quo is over and that the days of monopoly are done,” Wynne told reporters Thursday.
The Premier called the change the “biggest shakeup” to beer sales in the province since prohibition was repealed in 1927.
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In addition to selling beer in grocery stores, Ontario will start a new project to sell 12-packs of beer in 10 LCBO stores, and make it easier for craft brewers to list their products in the 447 Beer Store locations across the province.
Wynne said that despite the changes in the alcohol distribution in the province the same safe guards will remain in place like the hours of sale for alcohol.
“The fact that a representative of [Mothers Against Drunk Driving] has endorsed what we are doing is indicative of the fact that we are putting all the social controls and the social protections in place around this decision that are already in place on alcohol consumption across the province,” said Wynne.
Reaction to the announcement has been positive with the Ontario Craft Brewers calling it a “monumental” day for craft brewers and consumers in the province.
“We believe that this package of fundamental changes, when fully implemented, will unlock craft brewers’ true growth potential, allowing us to quickly double or triple our direct brewery jobs,” said Cam Heaps, co-founder of Steam Whistle Brewing and chair of Ontario Craft Brewers.
Heaps said the changes will create up to 2,000 jobs across the province.
WATCH: Wynne addresses possible difficulty of selling beer in supermarkets
The changes come in the wake of a report by a panel headed by TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, which examined Crown assets to find ways to maximize value for provincial infrastructure plans.
The Progressive Conservatives meanwhile criticized the new beer tax as a “crash grab.”
“It’s all about a cash grab to fuel the Wynne Liberals spending addiction,” said Opposition finance critic Vic Fedeli.
In addition to modernizing beer sales, the province will also sell off a 60 per cent stake in Hydro One that could generate $9 billion according to the report.
*With a file from the Canadian Press
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