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Calls grow to allow online liquor sales across provincial borders

Last Updated Dec 5, 2018 at 1:48 pm PDT

FILE - Ripe grapes hang on vines protected from birds with a net at the Okanagan Valley's River Stone Estate Winery in Oliver, B.C., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canadian Global Cities Council urging First Ministers to sign deal that would allow online liquor sales across provinces

A Canadian business coalition is calling for governments to allow the inter-provincial sale of local liquor, beer, wine

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There’s a growing push to allow alcohol sales across provincial lines in Canada.

The Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) is calling for inter-provincial sales to be allowed after the Toronto Region Board of Trade raised the idea in November.

The TRBoT proposed federal and provincial First Ministers should sign an “icebreaker deal” to allow online alcohol sales, that would allow Canadians to buy locally produced alcoholic beverages from other provinces — which is currently not allowed.

“With the holiday season upon us, Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast are on the hunt for the perfect gift for their loved ones, but instead of a happy holiday memory, they could be in for a hefty fine or possible jail time if they order their favourite beer, wine or spirits directly from an out of province producer,” Jan De Silva, Chair of the Canadian Global Cities Council and President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade said in a release.

“In Ontario an individual who violates the Liquor License Act could be liable to a fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both. British Columbia and Ontario are part of the same country, we should not be fining or imprisoning Canadians simply because they want to try another province’s product,” De Silva added.

The CGCC is a coalition made up of presidents and CEOs of Canada’s eight largest urban regional Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade.

The group points to a recent Statistics Canada report that found Canadians spent $22.5 billion on alcohol last year. It adds the country is home to a “burgeoning wine, beer and spirits industry” that locals can’t take full advantage of “because obsolete trade barriers prevent the free-flow of beverage alcohol across the country.”

“British Columbia is home to a diverse array of producers contributing more than $600 million to the province’s economy, including a world-renowned wine industry and thriving craft brewery scene,” Greater Vancouver Board of Trade President and CEO Iain Black said.

He adds there’s an opportunity here to help local industries grow while providing consumers with more Canadian options.

According to Statistics Canada’s report in May, domestic beer makes up the majority of beer sales in Canada. However, it also found imports are growing faster than domestic beer, and the same goes for imported spirits with respect to local product.

Statistics Canada reported domestic wine makes up just over one-third of the Canadian Market.