Newfoundland trails other provinces with D-minus in latest “Raise the Bar” report card
Two years ago, industry group Restaurants Canada gave Newfoundland and Labrador a dismal “F” grade on its first Raise the Bar report card on provincial liquor policies. Things have improved since then, but only enough to earn the province a D-minus on the 2017 Raise the Bar report card issued today.
There’s still a long way to go to create a modern, fair and competitive provincial liquor system, the report notes.
Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) has taken steps to improve relations with licensees by providing more notice of price increases, streamlining inspections, and ending the special-order fee. The industry is still incensed over a major increase in license fees, however, and needs relief from high prices.
“It’s frustrating to see a few administrative improvements for licensees, but zero action on the core issues of pricing and regulations,” says Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada’s vice president, Atlantic Canada. “We need the government and the NLC to get behind the bar and restaurant industry as a key contributor to the economy. They should be helping licensees to grow and succeed, not milking them dry.”
The report also notes that the NLC is in a conflict of interest as a licensee supplier, competitor and regulator.
“We hope this government has the will to move forward with a more modern and competitive system for sourcing and serving beer, wine and spirits,” says Erjavec.
Raise the Bar rates each province on the bar- and restaurant-friendliness of their liquor policies, primarily in terms of price, selection, licensing and regulation. Alberta earned the top mark, a “B”, as the only province to offer true wholesale pricing on beer, wine and spirits. Newfoundland and Labrador is at the bottom of the class with D-minus due to high prices, limited selection and excess red tape.
Canada’s bars and licensed restaurants represent 48,000 businesses, directly employ 560,000 Canadians, and generate .2 billion a year in economic activity, 97% of which goes back to the community through wages, benefits, business purchases and charitable donations.
The complete Raise the Bar report card is available at restaurantscanada.org/raise-the-bar-2017.