The Government of Ontario is planning to introduce a legislation to end a 2015 Master Framework Agreement (MFA) with the Beer Store, a Canadian privately owned chain of retail outlets.
The Beer Store is currently owned and controlled by three major firms, Molson (51%), Labatt (45%) and Sleeman (4%).
Under the agreement, the Beer Store has effective control over 70% of the beer retail, including exclusive right to sell 12 and 24 packs of alcoholic beverages, in most of their local markets, until 2025. Consumers are required to buy from the Beer Store if they want to purchase in bulk.
The MFA, signed by the previous Ontario government, also restricts the authorisation of new retail outlets.
If passed and proclaimed, the new bill will allow the current government to expand alcohol sales by increasing retail stores that could support economic growth and job creation.
Ontario finance minister Vic Fedeli said: “The unfair agreement with the Beer Store puts the interests of three large global brewers ahead of Ontario consumers, taxpayers and small businesses.
“It’s a bad deal for people in Ontario who want more choice and convenience, and it’s deeply unfair to businesses who want to compete in this sector.”
The government has also released a report outlining the inconvenience and unfairness of the current system for Ontarians. The report was delivered by Beverage Alcohol Review Ontario special advisor Ken Hughes.
The government said it looks forward to continuing negotiations with the Beer Store and to come to a mutually agreeable amendment that will improve choice and convenience for customers.