NEWS
08/31/2015 13:19 EDT | Updated 08/31/2016 01:12 EDT

Commission reviewing government programs suggests Quebec end Liquor monopoly

QUEBEC — A commission reviewing provincial programs is recommending Quebec liberalize its liquor monopoly.

The commission's final report released today says Quebec should maintain its government-run liquor stores but also make room for private sales, which would be subject to a special liquor tax.

Former federal and provincial Liberal cabinet minister Lucienne Robillard heads the commission, which concluded Quebec spends too much money managing its liquor monopoly due to the fact 21 per cent of net sales get eaten by administrative costs.

Quebec's alcohol laws are strict and while citizens can buy beer and some wine at privately run corner stores, hard liquor is only sold at government-operated locations.

The report says the $1-billion profit generated last fiscal year by government liquor sales was likely a peak and would diminish in subsequent years.

The commission also says Quebec would save roughly $392 million if it transfers its tax-collecting powers to Ottawa, but the report also warns the province would lose about $700 million if it gives up its ability to go after tax cheats.

The advisory committee was set up last summer by the Liberal government to help find savings as it works to balance the budget and made several recommendations last November.

The Canadian Press