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

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: Rubik’s Rumble a hit at Chilliwack middle school

Students fill gymnasium for first annual tournament focusing on popular puzzle toy

VIDEO: Gun enthusiasts fill Chilliwack venue for antique show

Collectors, proud owners and vendors took part in the event that approaches half a century in age

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read