Ontario’s 2019 budget promises extended liquor service hours

Published April 11, 2019

Thanks a brunch, Ontario!

Today’s first budget announcement from the new Progressive Conservative government of Ontario included a commitment to extend liquor service hours; licensed establishments will soon be allowed to start serving alcoholic beverages at 9:00 a.m., seven days a week.

This was a pre-budget request from Restaurants Canada, in response to the Ontario government’s decision earlier this year to extend hours for retail alcohol sales.

Reasons to raise a glass

Licensed restaurants, bars and golf courses will no longer have to explain to perplexed patrons that they cannot enjoy an alcoholic beverage with their meal until 11 a.m. — this has long been an irritant for businesses in tourist areas where restrictive hours seem antiquated to visitors, as well as for restaurants specializing in brunch service.

The new rules will also allow flexibility for bars and restaurants that cater to sporting events overseas that frequently have early start times.

The new budget also includes a promise to loosen advertising restrictions surrounding happy hour pricing and specials.

More details on these changes to alcohol regulations can be found on pg. 85 of Ontario’s full Budget 2019 document.

A regulatory change is required to bring the extended service hours into effect. Restaurants Canada will provide an update once the Ontario government has implemented this reform to the province’s liquor regulations.

A few new gains and no additional pain

Ontario’s 2019 budget includes no new taxes for residents or businesses. But it does include tax credits and other measures aimed at helping parents, seniors and business owners.

While the budget did not include an anticipated 1 per cent cut in the corporate tax rate, it did introduce a tax credit aimed at encouraging businesses to make capital investments.

With the gains in this budget coming without any major service cuts or tax increases, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government does not expect to balance the province’s books within their first term. They have committed to implement a plan to achieve a balanced budget by 2023–24.

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada, at jrilett@restaurantscanada.org or 1-800-387-5649 ext. 4241.

Marlee Wasser

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