Canada’s restaurant and bar owners frustrated with provincial liquor regulations

Published November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015, TORONTO – If you’ve ever wondered about the high cost of a bottle of wine when you dine out, a new report on Canada’s provincial liquor systems offers some answers: restaurant and bar owners in 8 out of 10 provinces pay the same price – or higher – as you do for a bottle of wine.

Today’s Raise the Bar report card from Restaurants Canada grades each province on its liquor policies and regulations as they relate to the hospitality industry.

Alberta is top of the class with a B+, offering the broadest selection of beer, wine and spirits at the best average price relative to other Canadian provinces.

Newfoundland and Labrador trails the country with a dismal “F” grade, due to limited product selection, some of the highest prices in Canada, and an inspection system that requires liquor inspectors to wear flak jackets when they enter a bar or restaurant.

This year’s report card follows 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.

“From coast to coast, Canada’s lawmakers are imposing out-of-date regulations that prevent our industry from passing on savings and convenience to customers, and providing the best possible guest experience,” says Donna Dooher, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada. “It’s a part of the greater supply management issue that keeps Canadian businesses from competing at their full potential.”

The Raise the Bar report card evaluates provincial governments across the country and scores their support for the food and beverage service industry in categories that include pricing and selection; licensing and regulation; customer sales; and political and regulatory activity.

Full provincial results are available here.

Results from both the membership survey by Restaurants Canada and today’s report focus primarily on unfair pricing for businesses serving alcohol to customers.

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

“Canada’s hospitality industry plays a strong and vibrant role in our country’s communities. We support local musicians, the arts, sports teams, and we employ more than a million Canadians,” says Dooher. “This report card is an important evaluation of the extent to which provincial governments support our industry. There’s a real opportunity here for governments to work with us to grow the hospitality industry across the country.”

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.


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