Province earns C-minus grade in latest “Raise the Bar” report card

Nov. 7, 2017 (Regina) – Saskatchewan has taken steps to modernize liquor policies for bars and restaurants, but business owners are frustrated by several new roadblocks. The new 6% sales tax on dining out, an increase in liquor mark-ups, and an uneven playing field when it comes to wholesale pricing are causing major headaches.

In a report card issued today, Restaurants Canada, the industry group representing restaurant and bar owners in the province, awards Saskatchewan a C-minus for its liquor policies, up slightly from a D-plus two years ago.

Called Raise the Bar, the new report card calls on the province to fix a flawed and unfair wholesale pricing system.

Under the new rules, only those licensees with an offsale endorsement (legally permitting them to sell liquor to patrons to take home) can buy beer, wine and spirits at a wholesale prices. The province is no longer granting offsale endorsements, so the only way for other licensees to access lower prices is to purchase from their competitors, who determine what discount to offer.

“The government has no business creating winners and losers in our hospitality industry,” says Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s vice president for Western Canada. “This flawed and unfair system must be corrected so that all licensees have access to the same wholesale pricing.”

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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