Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, December 14, 2023.  Photo courtesy of Premier’s official YouTube channel.Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, December 14, 2023. Photo courtesy of Premier’s official YouTube channel.

'Largest expansion in consumer choice and convenience since prohibition,' Doug Ford

Getting a cold one will be a little easier in Ontario come 2026.

The provincial government announced on Thursday the expansion of sales of beer and ready-to-drink cocktails to corner stores and big box stores.

"People in Ontario will be able to buy beer, wine, cider and other ready-to-drink alcohol beverages, like coolers and seltzers, at their local convenience store or at grocery stores and big box stores, while spirits like vodka and gin will continue to be sold at the LCBO," said Premier Doug Ford during a news conference Thursday morning.

Ford said the current Master Framework Agreement (MFA) between the province and The Beer Store will not be renewed when it expires at the end of 2025.

"In addition to the expanded marketplace, we're going to remove restrictions on the size of bundle packages so that people can purchase a 12-pack, 24-pack or even 30-packs of beer, cider and ready-to-drink alcohol beverages regardless of where they make their purchase," said Ford. "And we're going to make sure that Ontario made products, including wine and craft beer continue to receive dedicated shelf space."

The Beer Store has agreed to continue to run the provincewide recycling program for alcoholic beverage containers until at least 2031. That's part of a transition period in the new marketplace.

The changes will make Ontario the second province in Canada, after Quebec, to allow beer to be sold at corner stores and the first to offer ready-to-drink cocktails in these locations.

Ford said eligible retail outlets including grocery and convenience will be able to set their own pricing.

"This expanded marketplace will give people more choice, more convenience and more time," said Ford.

He said the government is also providing an additional $10 million over five years in funding to the Ministry of Health, to support social responsibility and public health efforts to ensure alcohol continues to be sold and consumed safely across the province.

"We've got to start treating people like adults here in the province," said Ford. "We want to make sure that we are in line with everyone else in the world and across Canada. Being able to go into a store buy a steak, grab a bottle of wine and go home, that's a good thing and we know it's a good thing."

Thursday's announcement fulfills a promise the Ford Tories made in the 2018 election.

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