POLITICS

Consultation on liquor retailing prompts feedback on broader issues: minister

02/09/2015 01:53 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan's government says public consultation on liquor retailing shows that people want to have a broader discussion about the alcohol industry.

The consultation followed a government report that outlined five options for selling liquor in the province.

The choices included everything from the status quo to expanded government involvement to Alberta-style fully private retailers.

Don McMorris, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, says there were more than 6,000 responses to an online survey launched in November.

"Overall it was a good response, kind of widespread," he said Monday. "The one thing that I heard from a lot of people ... is that it's a very complex system."

He added he was surprised that respondents also wanted to discuss warehousing, wholesale liquor and discounts for vendors.

"The issue around a level playing field, because there are varying markups between vendors and other retailers off-sale ... certainly resonated."

McMorris said the government will come up with a position on liquor retailing before the next election, which is expected in April 2016.

Feedback also included wanting the government to be revenue neutral, he added.

"They didn't want to see our revenues drop from alcohol sales."

The government has said it won't spend money building new liquor stores.

Saskatchewan has 75 government liquor stores and 190 franchises operating in private businesses in rural Saskatchewan. There are also 450 off-sale stores and three private outlets, with a fourth set to open in Regina in the spring.