In a new published report a conservative think tank is calling for the province to abolish Ontario’s long standing beer, wine and spirits retail monopolies.
The C.D. Howe Institute report, which is titled Uncorking a Strange Brew: The Need for More Competition in Ontario’s Alcoholic Beverage Retailing System, says “The lack of competition in Ontario’s system for alcoholic beverage retailing causes higher prices for consumers and foregone government revenue.”
According to the report, consumers in provinces like Quebec, where there is actual competition between private sector retail entities, pay about $10 less per pack of 24 domestic beers; on average, they also pay less for imported beer.
The report goes on to call The Beer Store’s monopoly “an anachronism,” referring to the 1927 legislation that enabled its stranglehold on beer sales in Ontario.
The report states the obvious when it broaches the subject of why these monopolies still exist. “Those profiting from the status quo . . . have a major stake in it and strongly oppose reform,” it says. Indeed, when the LCBO adds $1.74 billion to the government’s war chest, as it did in 2013-2014, there’s very little incentive to shake things up. However, the irony is that the report says its finding suggest that the government would actually profit more from opening things up; in fact, a government-led study concluded the same in 2005, though then Premier Dalton McGuinty decided to ignore its findings.
It’s doubtful this report will have any sway on the government, but, hey, one can always dream that sometime in the future they will be able to buy beer at their local convenience store.