Beer coming to corner stores

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The Ford government is taking steps to allow beer sales in convenience stores.

The Conservatives introduced a bill in the Ontario Legislature on May 27 that will terminate Ontario’s contract with the Beer Store, which does not allow the sale of beer in corner stores across the province.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the system in place is a monopoly that is giving Ontarians and business owners a bad deal.

“The province’s current beer distribution system is owned by three global giants who were handed a sweetheart deal by the previous government, who are more interested in protecting profits than convenience or choice for average people,” Fedeli told the Legislature on Monday.

The announcement follows negotiations between Ford’s government and the Beer Store over the Premier’s promise during the election campaign to allow beer and wine sales in corner stores. He has said expansion to more grocery stores, as well as retailers will open up competition.

In 2015, the Liberals ratified the contract between The Beer Store, three major breweries, and the province that was scheduled to last until 2025. That contact allowed the Liberals to expand into grocery stores, but it limited the number and type of retailers that can sell alcohol in the province.

Ford’s promise to allow more than 11,000 convenience stores to sell beer and wine would have directly breached the contract.

Violating the contract would leave taxpayers on the hook for stiff penalties and any breach could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

President John Nock the United Food and Commercial Workers local that represents Beer Store employees said the government’s decision could cost thousands of jobs.

“We will fight this government and this premier to keep our jobs and to save the taxpayers the billions Ford is willing to pay to put beer in corner stores,” Nock said in a statement.

The Tories have also announced a number of loosened alcohol restrictions, including allowing alcohol served in restaurants and at sporting events at 9 a.m., seven days a week, letting people consume booze in parks, and legalizing tailgating parties near sports events.