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NDP questions delays in liquor policy rollout

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Summary

NDP wonders why it's taking so long to get wine into grocery stores.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Five dozen Ontario grocery stores will be selling beer by Christmas, so why is a similar process in this province still stuck in the mud?

That’s the question the NDP is asking after the glacier-like rollout of the move to bring booze to our grocery store shelves.

“The government’s so-called liquor policy reforms have been troubled from the beginning,” says NDP liquor policy critic David Eby. “The happy hour reform that was supposed to lower prices at bars at certain times actually increased prices.”

Just two grocery stores have booze available for sale here, despite the big fanfare and the news conferences that were thrown to celebrate the province’s liquor reform plan.

Eby blames that on a lack of work ahead of those festivities.

“The province has really failed to adequately consult both industry and municipalities on this change, ” says Eby. “Right now they’re actively fighting municipalities across the province that are saying, ‘look, we already have enough liquor outlets, we don’t need wine in grocery stores as well.’ Clearly the conversations weren’t happening there.

“They’re also fighting private liquor retailers, who feel the new wholesale price reform has decreased their margins and made it more difficult to continue their operations and they’re also facing increased competition from grocery stores, so the province is not doing a good job of smoothing this through.”

Beyond the initial rollout, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says by May, 150 grocery stores will offer beer.