New Ontario Alcohol Sales: Ontario Accelerates Alcohol Sales Expansion to Corner Stores and Supermarkets

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced a new deal to accelerate the plan for selling beer, wine, and ready-to-drink cocktails in corner stores and additional supermarkets, set to start on September 4, 2024. This move, 16 months ahead of the original timeline, will cost the province up to $225 million to compensate The Beer Store, owned by multinational brewing companies, for the accelerated timeline.

Retailers such as convenience stores and gas stations can begin selling low-alcohol beverages from September 4, with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) starting the licensing process on June 17. Additionally, 450 grocery stores with existing licenses for beer and wine can sell ready-to-drink cocktails starting August 1, with other supermarkets and grocers following on October 31.

The new agreement will allow up to 8,500 more locations to sell alcohol, breaking The Beer Store’s quasi-monopoly on beer sales that dates back to the end of Prohibition. This expansion aims to provide more choice and convenience for consumers while supporting local brewers, wineries, and small businesses. Premier Ford emphasized that the funds to The Beer Store are intended to support its workers and maintain operations, not to benefit the conglomerates owning the store.

Critics have raised concerns about the multimillion-dollar payment to The Beer Store and the potential health risks of increased alcohol accessibility. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health warned that more access could lead to a rise in alcohol-related harms and deaths. The Ontario Liberal and NDP leaders have also criticized the deal, suggesting the funds could be better spent on healthcare and other pressing needs.

Ontario Alcohol Business Insurance

Despite the controversy, this change presents significant opportunities for businesses. Retailers entering the alcohol market must ensure they have comprehensive business insurance coverage including for alcohol liability to protect against potential risks. For those planning to stock alcohol, securing proper Ontario business insurance with alcohol is crucial to mitigate liabilities and safeguard their operations. This is especially important for stores selling alcohol, as they face unique risks and regulatory requirements.