01/07/2015 08:16 EST | Updated 03/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Ontario's Foreign-Owned Beer Store Says Will Open Up Ownership To All Provincial Brewers

Steve Russell via Getty Images
BRAMPTON, ON - JUNE 15: Employees at Beer Store #2006 on Peel Centre Drive in Brampton, sort bottles in the back. Bottles are sorted according to bottle colour, industry standard, and specialty bottles. Liquor bottles are sorted according by clear and coloured glass and plastic. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

TORONTO - The foreign-owned Beer Store consortium says it is opening up ownership to all Ontario-based brewers.

The group says the move is effective immediately and that both large and small-sized brewers will be allowed to participate.

Ontario's beer retail operations have come under scrutiny recently after a Toronto newspaper published details of an agreement signed in 2000 between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Beer Store.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press that the relationship between the Beer Store consortium and the LCBO looked unfair and would "absolutely'' be changed.

An advisory panel chaired by former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark had already recommended the province charge the Beer Store for its virtual monopoly on beer sales, saying there was a clear value that could be auctioned off if the brewers won't pay up.

The Beer Store's current owners — three major brewing companies — say opening up ownership makes sense for Ontario brewers and consumers.

The Beer Store, the commercial name for Brewers Retail, was owned by a consortium of Ontario-based brewers when it was set up in 1927, but is now owned by Molson-Coors of the United States, AB InBev of Belgium and Sapporo of Japan. It operates 448 retail stores across Ontario.

Photo gallery Historic Canadian Beer Labels See Gallery