Ontario to extend alcohol sales hours to align with legal cannabis shops
You will be able to buy alcohol in Ontario as late as 11 p.m. under the Ontario government’s newly-revamped sales policy, and maybe one day at your local corner store too.
The LCBO, The Beer Store, and authorized grocery stores will be allowed to sell alcohol from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, according to the PC government’s Fall Economic Statement.
Currently, alcohol can be sold within those hours from Monday to Saturday, but only from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Many locations currently close between 9 and 10 p.m.
The Ontario government announced its “modernizing” of alcohol sales on Thursday.
As part of the modernization, the government intends to develop a plan to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores and big-box stores “based on market demand, not government decree,” they said.
A “comprehensive review” will also be conducted, where consumers and businesses can weigh in on the rules surrounding alcohol sales. There was no indication when and how that review would happen.
It’s also not clear when the changes to alcohol sales will be implemented or whether every store in the province would be required to operate under the new rules.
“These changes will allow consumers to make the responsible choices that work best for them while improving access and convenience,” the government said.
Sources tell CTV News Toronto that the move was done to align alcohol sales with cannabis sales, once legal pot shops open on April 1.
As part of the announced regulations, the stand-alone marijuana shops must be at least 150 metres away from schools and only those 19 years or older can be allowed inside.
“The distance buffer will help protect students and keep communities safe, while other regulations will combat the influence and participation of organized crime in the legal licensed framework,” a news release from the attorney general’s office on Wednesday reads.
When it comes to licences, the province will start accepting applications on Dec. 17. Those who were previously operating a pot shop illegally will not be eligible for a licence nor will anyone who was involved or associated with organized crime.
Applicants must also “demonstrate their tax compliance status to show that they are in good standing with the government,” the province said.
Those who are approved for a licence, and those they subsequently hire to work at the stores, will also be required to complete “approved training” on the “responsible sale of cannabis.”
Until April, Ontarians can only purchase pot legally through the online Ontario Cannabis Store.
The government also touted its revival of buck-a-beer in its alcohol sales modernization plan.
Back in August, Ford dropped the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from $1.25 for those brews with an alcohol volume below 5.6 per cent.
“So far, more than 50,000 cases of buck-a-beer products have been sold in Ontario,” the government wrote in the Fall Economic Statement.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Queen's Park Bureau Chief Colin D'Mello