“Raise the Bar” report card applauds updated liquor policies, but mandatory bottle stamps remain a major irritant

Nov. 7, 2017 (Quebec City) – Quebec is near the top of the class in a new report card on provincial liquor policies, issued today by Restaurants Canada, an industry group representing bars and restaurants.

The Raise the Bar report card awards Quebec a B-minus grade, and commends the government and Société des alcools du Québec on actions taken to lower prices, cut red tape and improve service to licensees. The SAQ has also said it will not pass along the recently announced increase in the federal excise tax to licensees.

“Our members are very pleased with recent developments that have streamlined liquor licensing requirements and made it much easier for them to provide great service to their customers,” says David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada’s vice president, Federal and Quebec. “There is always more work to be done, but the glass is half full for sure.”

The report calls out a major irritant for Quebec’s bar and restaurant operators – the paper stamps they must adhere to every bottle of beer, wine and spirits. No other province has this requirement.

“In addition to being time consuming and unnecessary, the stamps fall off and are easy to lose,” says Lefebvre. “Ending this requirement would be an easy fix for the government and big relief for our members.”

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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