Convenience stores angry sale of beer and wine not part of discussions on easing liquor laws

Opinion polls show Ontarians want greater convenience when buying beer and wine

TORONTO, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - Ontario's convenience stores are calling for a serious discussion about easing Ontario's liquor laws so responsible adults can enjoy a beer with less bureaucracy. On the heels of the McGuinty government's announcement they'll review relaxing liquor laws for festivals and tailgate parties, convenience store operators are calling for the government to look more broadly and examine the sale of beer and wine in convenience stores.

"We know buying things like beer and wine at convenience stores is something that Ontarians want," said Dave Bryans, President of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). "In 2010, pollster Angus Reid asked Ontarians this exact question and 63% immediately supported the idea. And that's before our industry even has had a chance to make our case or educate people about our excellent record of selling age-restricted products."

Canadians outside Ontario are well-acquainted with the convenience that accompanies more realistic liquor control laws. In particular, Quebec and Newfoundland have long histories of convenience store retailers responsibly selling beer and other alcohol for decades.

"Tourism Minister Michael Chan said recently that he has "a great deal of confidence in the LCBO", but if that's the case, the provincial government should be supremely confident in the abilities of the convenience store industry to responsibly sell alcohol," said Bryans. "Not only do we have a better age check system than these outlets, our record in testing for age is better."

Convenience stores have an exceptional age testing program, We Expect ID, and have conducted over 100 million age checks in Ontario since 2008.  Unlike any other retailer selling age restricted products, We Expect ID allows retail workers to swipe the driver's licence of anyone who appears under 25 to read their age information that's magnetically encoded in the card. This means when used the system eliminates the chance of error in checking for age.  The track record of convenience stores is backed up by Health Canada, whose testing of convenience stores demonstrates an excellent track record when it comes to checking for age - better than the LCBO or Beer Store. 

"Beer and wine in convenience stores is something Ontarians want, convenience stores have shown they can sell alcohol responsibly, and we're already doing it in over 200 communities in Ontario," added Bryans.  "If the provincial government really wanted to liberalize Ontario's liquor laws to cut responsible adults a little slack from the bureaucracy, they should be looking at how they can actually make it more convenient for people to buy beer for the weekend or that bottle of wine for dinner."

SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association

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John Perenack, (quick response), 416-238-2576


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