Mayor Shaun Collier of Ajax has sent a letter to Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, echoing calls by local businesses and the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade to allow restaurants temporary access to wholesale beer, wine and spirits through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
The Province of Ontario has taken significant steps to support restaurants struggling through mandatory closures as a result of Covid-19, including capping third party delivery service fees, and allowing alcohol delivery. The ability for restaurants to access wholesale beer, wine and spirits on a temporary basis will reduce the cost of doing business, and also benefit consumers, said Mayor Collier in a statement.
“Provincially mandated closures (delivery or carry-out only), as well as indoor and outdoor dining limitations to accommodate public health measures continue to impact our restaurants, more than a year after the pandemic was declared,” he said.
British Columbia implemented the same temporary wholesaling measure in June 2020, and reports are positive. Mayor Collier’s request is that Ontario mirror the BC example, as it is anticipated the province could take many months to fully reopen and for customers’ behavioural patterns to rebound.
“The Province has been responding to suggestions that would cut red tape and bring down the cost of doing business to support our restaurants and business community. I hope that Minister Bethlenfalvy will consider our request to implement this temporary measure to ensure that more restaurants survive, and ultimately achieve continued, long-term success,” said Mayor Collier.
“We have been advocating to the Ontario government to temporarily grant restaurants wholesale pricing from the LCBO. Some of our restaurant members have shared concerns about their ability to remain profitable, and the savings resulting from wholesale pricing could be used to offset pandemic costs and help ensure their survival. The province has already made several impactful moves, like permanently allowing alcoholic beverages to be part of take-out and delivery, and capping delivery fees. We hope that they will recognize this as a crucial next step in support of restaurants,” added Nicole Gibson, Executive Director, Ajax Pickering Board of Trade.
- The Province of British Columbia announced a temporary change to allow restaurants, pubs and eateries access to wholesale beer, wine and spirit pricing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, effective June 2020. The Province of British Columbia will re-evaluate the program in March 2021
- Restaurants across Ontario have been mandated to shut down (delivery or pick up only) at least twice (depending on public health unit) since March 2020. They have also had restrictions placed on indoor and outdoor dining to accommodate public health protocols
- Allowing Ontario restaurants to access wholesale pricing on alcoholic beverages will serve to increase margins by reducing the cost of doing business
- Similar wholesale or discount programs have been implemented in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia