Manitoba’s bar and restaurant owners call offside on provincial liquor rules

Published November 7, 2017

Province receives a “C” grade in new Raise the Bar report card

When it comes to selling beer, wine and spirits, the Manitoba government puts bars and restaurants at a distinct disadvantage compared to their competitors. Hotels and meal delivery services can sell these beverages for offsite consumption – but it’s illegal for bars and restaurants to do the same.

Restaurants Canada, an industry group representing restaurant and bar owners in the province, aims to level the playing field. In its Raise the Bar report card issued today, it awards Manitoba a mediocre “C” grade for its liquor policies – unchanged since the first report card was issued two years ago. The 2017 report argues for several changes including:

  • Allow bars and restaurants to offer liquor offsite sales, just like hotels, beer vendors, and meal delivery services do
  • Introduce wholesale pricing for licensees, and allow them to pay by credit card, just like retail customers do

“Manitoba took steps to streamline liquor licensing and cut red tape in recent years, but it missed the boat in terms of levelling the playing field for bar and restaurant owners,” says Joyce Reynolds, Restaurants Canada’s executive vice president, government affairs. “We need policies that will lead to better prices and service for bar and restaurant customers, and continued growth and investment by these businesses in Manitoba. Instead the government has created a system of winners and losers in the hospitality industry.”

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.

The full rankings are:

Province Grade
Alberta B
Quebec B-
Nova Scotia B-
P.E.I. B-
British Columbia C
Manitoba C
Saskatchewan C-
Ontario D+
New Brunswick D
Newfoundland D-

Canada’s bars and licensed restaurants represent 48,000 businesses, directly employ 560,000 Canadians, and generate $8.2 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

Restaurants Canada Digital

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