Nova Scotia improves to B-minus in latest “Raise the Bar” report card

Nov. 7, 2017 (Halifax) – Nova Scotia is heading in the right direction when it comes to provincial liquor policies, but bar and restaurant owners are still frustrated by high prices for beer, wine and spirits. That’s the message in the new Raise the Bar report card, issued today by industry group Restaurants Canada.

The report card on provincial liquor policies awards Nova Scotia a B-minus grade, up from C-plus in the first report card issued two years ago.

On the positive side: wholesale pricing for wine and spirits, more flexible licensing rules, the ability to buy directly from producers as well as through some private sector stores, and tax cuts on craft beer.

On the negative side: Overall high prices on all products, and no wholesale discount on beer purchases. In addition, the province is passing along a recent increase in the federal excise tax, which includes a “tax escalator” that will automatically increase prices every year.

“The government and the NSLC deserve credit for responding to the issues we raised in our first Raise the Bar report card. The glass is definitely half full, and we’re confident that things will continue to improve,” says Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada’s vice president, Atlantic Canada. “Bars and restaurants are community builders, job creators and tourist magnets. With more competitive pricing they could contribute even more in all those areas.”

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 restaurantscanada.org/raise-the-bar-2017.

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