No wholesale pricing earns B.C. ‘C’ in liquor policy: report

Province didn’t go far enough in modernizing liquor laws, says Restaurants Canada

  • Nov. 7, 2017 2:05 p.m.

B.C. is getting worse, not better, at removing red tape from liquor policies, according to Restaurants Canada.

In its Raise the Bar report card issued Tuesday, the organization gave the province a C grade, down from a C+ two years ago, saying bars and restaurants still have to buy their alcohol at full retail prices.

“The previous government made a series of positive announcements after the liquor review in 2015, but they stopped short of offering wholesale pricing for bars and restaurants,” said Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president for western Canada.

“Private liquor stores got a price break, but our industry did not. It’s getting harder and harder for bar and restaurant owners to swallow these high prices.”

The Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale markup is 124 per cent of the supplier price for hard liquor, 73 per cent for coolers and ciders, and 89 per cent for wine. There is a per-litre tax with ascending rates for small, medium and large breweries.

According to the report card, Alberta is the only province to offer wholesale booze pricing to bars and restaurants.

B.C. has made some steps to modernize its liquor laws. In 2015, it unveiled happy hour pricing which allowed for time-specific pricing. However, not all establishments were happy with the new policy which forced some bars and restaurants to raise their pricing to meet minimum prices per drink.

The 2015 regulations also allowed children into pubs during mealtimes.


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