B.C. to ration liquor amid ongoing strike, says industry group

Click to play video: 'Province puts limits on purchases at BC Liquor Stores' Province puts limits on purchases at BC Liquor Stores
Many customers at the Mission BC Liquor Store in Kelowna Friday were surprised their alcohol purchases were being limited. Signage around the store stating customers could only buy 3 of any individual item of liquor, with the exception of beer. – Aug 19, 2022

A group that represents British Columbia’s private liquor stores says the province has imposed limits on alcohol sales at government-run outlets, effective immediately.

The Alliance of Beverage Licensees of BC (ABLE BC) says government officials have informed it that all customers, including bars, pubs, restaurants and the public, will be rationed to no more than three of any individual items of liquor, with the exception of beer.

This includes refreshment beverage products that come in 4-packs, 6-packs and other formats and will count as one product.

This will remain in place until the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) distribution centres resume operations.

In a statement, the LDB said it wants to support the hospitality industry, particularly smaller businesses and retail customers.

“(These) measures will support equal access to product to ensure service for as many customers as possible,” the organization said.

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“This is insane. The only reason BC Liquor Stores are rationing quantities is because of the BCGEU strike, which is shutting down B.C.’s vital liquor distribution warehouses,” said Jeff Guignard, Executive Director of ABLE BC in a release.

Read more: Pressure mounts on B.C. government as public sector strike drags on

These limits will impact everyone shopping at B.C. Liquor Stores, including pubs, bars, and restaurants.

“That the BCGEU strike continues to disrupt our entire industry is deeply frustrating to the pubs and restaurants still struggling to recover from the financial damage of the pandemic,” said Guignard.

B.C.’s private liquor stores will not be implementing similar restrictions. “We will continue to serve our customers to the best of our ability, while supplies last,” said Guignard. “This needs to stop before it gets worse. We urge both sides to get back to the negotiation table immediately before this strike does further damage to BC’s economy.”
As the limit is tied to the individual product SKU (barcode), examples of purchases that fit within the quantity limit could include:

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  • Three bottles of one kind of vodka and three bottles of another kind of vodka.
  • Three six-packs of a refreshment beverage, three bottles of wine, and three bottles of another kind of wine.

The order comes as striking members of the BC General Employees Union picket liquor distribution warehouses for the fifth day.

So far, the province has offered the BCGEU wage increases amounting to about 11 per cent over three years, with a $2,500 signing bonus.

Provincial officials are hoping that a deal with the union, among B.C.’s biggest, will set the chain of dominoes in motion to settle disputes with the other public sectors.

The Hospital Employees Union has currently paused negotiations with the province, while the nurses won’t begin until the fall.

Click to play video: 'Locals react to limits on alcohol sales imposed by the province' Locals react to limits on alcohol sales imposed by the province
Locals react to limits on alcohol sales imposed by the province – Aug 19, 2022

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is currently at the table. Union president Clint Johnston said the province’s latest offer is far below what teachers are seeking, but that there has been movement.

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In a statement from the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, officials said they have turned their “anger publicly towards the BCGEU and the irresponsibility of their actions that is hurting our fragile industry.

“We are making sure the public and government are aware of the damage this is causing with this dispute we are not party to.”

Global News has reached out to the BCGEU for comment.

More coming.

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