There is much debate on how wine, beer and liquor should be sold in this province. Ontario has an interesting model for selling booze, with the LCBO as a government-run agency, while The Beer Store is run by a triad of big time brewers.
Other provinces do things differently. Alberta has private system that has significantly increased product selection but has also massively increased consumption. Quebec sells product at convenience stores. BC has an amalgamated system of private and public outlets.
One thing is clear – people want to sell booze and lots of it, because it means money. With bucks on the line, companies are greatly motivated – and this is why this debate keeps happening, over and over. Add to this the recent popularity of micro-breweries and independent wineries, each jockeying for position and market share; suddenly, you have a big tempest built from many small storms.
A recent article in the Toronto Star details a study published by the CD HOWE institute. This is an economic agency highlighting one side of the alcohol distribution issue – costs and revenues. Another recent study commissioned by The Beer Store and reported on by the Financial Post focuses on price. We certainly seem to care about cheap booze, running to where it’s cheapest when we live close to provincial and American borders.
But, ultimately, what are the costs? Alcohol generates profits, but it generates a range of health and social harms. There are real costs that no one seems to be talking about.