TORONTO - Ten things you should know about pending changes to the sale of beer in Ontario:
— A new tax, approximately $1 on a case of 24, will be phased in over four years at 25 cents a year.
— Major brewers will cap prices on their most popular brands, which represent about 50 per cent of the market, for the next two years.
— Up to 450 grocery stores in urban areas (many small towns already have "combination" stores that are able to sell 12-packs and 24 cases) will be licensed to sell beer in six-packs or smaller sizes. Beer will be sold in separate sections of the store, operating during the same hours as the Beer Store.
— A pilot project will see 12-packs of beer sold in 10 LCBO stores that are more than two kilometres from a Beer Store, so it doesn't "erode" Beer Store's business.
— The Beer Store will spend $100 million to modernize their stores and all new stores will be open concept, self-serve formats.
— Bars and restaurants that buy up to 250 cases of beer will be able to purchase the product at the same price as consumers.
— Small brewers will see costs of retailing through the Beer Store fall by five to 10 per cent and will have a minimum of 20 per cent of shelf space.
— The LCBO will create new boutiques for niche products such as craft beer and specialty spirits in stores, which will sell alcohol in different formats such as refillable beer containers.
— An independent beer ombudsman will be appointed to address brewer and customer complaints.
— An advisory council is still examining what to do about the distribution of wine and spirits.
SOURCE: Liberal government/The Canadian Press