Attorney General Suzanne Anton says private stores have been calling for equal treatment from the province's wholesale liquor monopoly.

‘Level playing field’ for B.C. liquor stores

BCGEU welcomes possible Sunday openings, more fridges in government stores to compete with private retailers

VICTORIA – B.C. government liquor stores are losing their wholesale price advantage next spring, but will also have the option of opening Sundays and evenings with chilled offerings to help them compete with private stores.

The change to a single wholesale price for every product takes effect April 1, the same date B.C. is permitting private or government liquor sales in separate facilities inside grocery stores.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton said the change is to create a “level playing field” for liquor retailing in B.C., after private store operators complained that the existing system gave government stores an unfair price advantage.

Currently the Liquor Distribution Branch, the government monopoly wholesaler, sells products to government stores at cost and sets a minimum price for all retailers. The wholesale price for private retail stores is 16 per cent less than that retail price, rural agency stores pay 12 per cent less, and stores that sell only B.C. wine get a 30 per cent discount.

A new wholesale price structure for the thousands of products sold in liquor stores will be the same for all retailers, set to retain the $1 billion in revenues the province takes in annually from liquor sales. Anton said she doesn’t expect substantial changes in retail prices.

The B.C. Government Employees Union, representing government liquor store staff, welcomed the Sunday openings and increased hours to help their stores compete.

“The move to a single wholesale price will only be in the public interest if it protects and expands over time provincial revenue,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

Premier Christy Clark said the government’s liquor policy review showed “people really like their government liquor stores” because of the wide selection and well-trained staff. Clark agreed with Smith that government stores are well positioned to compete with private outlets, which are generally not unionized and pay lower wages.

The government is also changing its tax system for breweries to eliminate the steep increase that applies when small breweries reach a certain level of production. Anton said that is designed to encourage growth of craft breweries, which currently employ 2,500 people in B.C.

Liquor Distribution Branch officials are also working on a system of higher prices for high-alcohol beverages, a measure long recommended by Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall to discourage overconsumption.

 

Just Posted

Construction begins on Hwy 3A outside Keremeos

Portion of road will be reduced to single lane alternating traffic until Nov. 30

Save the date for Light Up weekend in Keremeos

12 Days of Christmas is the theme of this year’s Light Up in Keremeos

Fundraiser set for 15-year-old Keremeos girl injured in collision

A fundraiser is being held at the Branding Iron on December 1 for Keirsten Haynes

Rural recreation tax, priority for Penticton

Three Penticton regional district reps want a way to tax rural areas for recreation services

B.C. couple helping wildfire evacuees in northern California

A planned holiday has turned into a humanitarian effort for a Penticton couple

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Trudeau says he won’t negotiate in public on future of LGBTQ rights in USMCA

Legislators urged Trump not to sign the agreement unless the language was removed.

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

Most Read