Starting January 1, Ontario has cut LCBO wholesale alcohol prices for bars and restaurants and is enabling curbside pickup of beer, wine, and cider from licensed grocery stores, as well as freezing the basic beer tax rate.
A government announcement says the measure intends to support licensed bars, restaurants, and other businesses by saving them an effective 20 per cent when compared to retail prices.
Those savings will be achieved through increasing the discount on liquor consumption premise licensees’ alcohol purchases from the LCBO to 10 per cent and eliminating the six per cent mark-up on cider, wine, and spirits. The government notes that when combined with HST recovery and container deposit fees, this will result in licensees effectively paying 20 per cent less than retail prices for alcohol purchased wholesale from the LCBO.
It adds the change will provide approximately $60 million in annual support to restaurants, bars and other businesses.
The basic beer tax rates that were set to be indexed to inflation on March 1, 2022 have been frozen until the same date in 2023 to help beer and craft beer brewers to recover and grow.
A final measure also sees the extension of retail sale hours of alcohol 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., enacted temporarily in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, made permanent.
The government says the new flexibilities will build on its previous moves around alcohol during the pandemic, which have included expanding sales of beverage alcohol to more retail outlets across Ontario, permanently allowing licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order, and giving licensed restaurants and bars and retailers more flexibility in using liquor delivery services.