Restaurant and bar owners frustrated by provincial liquor systems

Ontario scores a disappointing D+ on Restaurants Canada's liquor report card

TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2015 /CNW/ - Ontario has one of the least bar- and restaurant-friendly liquor policies of any province in Canada, according to a new report card issued by Restaurants Canada. Raise the Bar grades each province according to its liquor policies and regulations. Ontario earned a D+ because licensees must pay higher than retail to purchase beer and spirits. In addition, the wait time for new and amended licenses is unacceptably long.

Ontario tied with Saskatchewan for the second-worst score in Canada; only Newfoundland, with an F, had a lower grade.  In contrast, Alberta topped the country with a B+ score, thanks to its practice of offering restaurant and bar owners a wide selection of alcoholic products at competitive prices.

"There's a lot of work to do in Ontario," says James Rilett, Restaurants Canada's Ontario vice-president. "These grades are a sign of how much – or how little – provincial governments support the small business owners who operate restaurants and bars in every community across the country."

Full provincial results are available here:

The Raise the Bar report card is the by-product of a survey of Canada's restaurant and bar owners who are frustrated with provincial regulations that control the cost and distribution of the alcoholic beverages they provide to customers. The report evaluates provincial governments across the country, and scores their support for the food and beverage service industry in four categories: pricing and selection; licensing and regulation; customer sales; and political and regulatory activity. 

Close to all (97%) surveyed members of Restaurants Canada want to see wholesale pricing for the products they sell in their establishments, and 72% believe the cost of purchasing their product (often from liquor distribution monopolies) hinders their ability to do business. Less than a third (30%) say they receive value from their local liquor or beer supplier.

"The purpose of the report is to spotlight what provinces are doing right, and where they can make improvements," says Rilett. "We're hopeful that we can work with the government of Ontario to improve pricing, so bar and restaurant owners can maximize their customers' experiences."

Restaurants Canada is a growing community of 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. We connect our members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy for a strong and vibrant restaurant industry. Canada's restaurant industry directly employs 1.2 million Canadians, is the number one source of first jobs, and serves 18 million customers every day.

SOURCE Restaurants Canada

For further information: Media Contact: James Rilett, Vice President, Ontario, cell (416) 738-9546 or; Beth Pollock, Communications Specialist, 1-800-387-5649 ext. 4254, or; Ellen Woodger, The Gabor Group, (416) 483-2358 or


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