05/13/2013 05:02 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 10:23 EDT

Saskatchewan Beer Prices Are The Highest In Canada


We're sorry to tell you, Saskatchewan, but you now have the highest beer prices in Canada.

Imbibers in Alberta, however can raise their glass to the fact they are no longer drinking the most expensive suds in the country.

The Calgary Sun reports that recent liquor tax hikes make the going rate for a case of domestic beer in Saskatchewan the highest in the country - at an average of $24.99, including tax and deposit.

Comparatively, Albertans pay an average of $23.02 for a dozen bottles, while partakers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and P.E.I. shell out between $23.50 and $24.00 for 12 beer.

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“In order to make the budget number for this year, we felt we had to put the prices up,” Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corp. CEO Steve Winter told reporters in March.

Manitoba made a similar move following their budget in April, boosting the price of a 12-pack of domestic beer by $2 and upping the price of spirits about 47-cents per 750-millilitre bottle, reports the Winnipeg Free Press.

"It's just another way the government can squeeze some more money out of taxpayers," Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Colin Craig told the Free Press at the time.

Albertans can also relish in the fact they no longer pay the most for the hard stuff, either. The Sun reports a $25.47 price tag for a 750-millilitre bottle of Bacardi in Alberta is pretty cheap when you look at the prices in Saskatchewan ($25.50), Newfoundland ($26.19) and Nova Scotia ($27.98.)

Drinkers in Alberta faced sticker shock in liquor stores in 2008 when then-premier Ed Stelmach raised taxes on alcohol, making Alberta's prices the highest in the country.

Saskatchewan drinkers could end up paying a bit less for a case or bottle, however, after it was announced four new privately-owned liquor stores would open in Saskatoon and Regina.

Donna Harpaurer, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), told CKOM 650 the new stores will set their own prices, which could be lower than public liquor stores owned by the government.

Unlike Alberta, however, where liquor sales were deregulated in 1993, Saskatchewan still sets a minimum price for all beer, wine and spirits, based on the alcohol content in the beverage.

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union is critical of the new stores, telling CBC News privately-owned stores are "bad news."

"Profits from [government-run] SLGA stores help fund schools, hospitals, roads, long-term care homes, parks, public safety and much more," Bob Bymoen, the president of SGEU said.

Restaurateurs also see the move as a bad one, claiming a planned 16 per cent discount on SLGA beverage products for the four private shops is creating an unfair competitive advantage.

“For us to buy a bottle of beer or wine or whatever, when you consider the delivery and 10 per cent tax, it actually costs us more now than the consumer. And now, it’s going to be an even larger gap,” Regina pub owner Tim Rogers told Metro Regina.

“Everybody has fixed dollars for entertainment or alcohol. And when we as a business have to pay more than the average consumer does, and that gap gets even worse, it’s a bit of a concern to us.”

Want to see how prices for a pint in your favourite restaurant compare to others' across the country? Check out more from the Sun's cross-country comparison.