Wholesale pricing system coming to B.C. liquor, but exact prices unknown

WATCH: It’s perhaps the biggest change to BC’s antiquated liquor laws and the part that consumers are most interested in – how the government will level the playing field between public and private liquor stores. Keith Baldrey reports.

Come April 1, British Columbians will be able to spend more time in government liquor stores thanks to expanded hours on Sundays and holidays.

But whether they’ll be spending significantly more money remains to be seen.

The provincial government said they would publicly release the new wholesale prices on March 20, following weeks of the NDP claiming they would end up being significantly more than the current prices. But the day came and went without the government announcing the new numbers.

“There’s two possibilities,” said NDP liquor policy critic David Eby.

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“One is that they’re keeping prices about the same, in which case government liquor stores are going to show a loss of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. The other possibility is prices are going up significantly. The prices are secret. I think most of your viewers will be as suspicious as I am.”

The confusion stems from a shift to a wholesale pricing system, which means public and private stores will all pay the same price. In addition, the new listed prices in stores won’t include taxes.

“What the consumers will notice is that the prices may vary slightly higher, slightly lower, but very minor changes,” says Attorney-General Suzanne Anton.

“There may be some prices that move, [but] it’ll be right in the same range that people paid at before.”

What that exact price will be remains to be seen, however.

“Restaurants have to buy at retail prices, it’s seven business days before this new policy comes in, and they still don’t know what they’re going to be paying for their product,” says Eby.

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