Updated June 23, 2014 - per drink minimum prices now accurately reflect serving size
VICTORIA - B.C. officially opened the door to happy hours and implemented minimum drink pricing today, offering flexibility for businesses and their customers while preserving health and public safety.
Consistent with the views heard from both industry and health advocates during the Liquor Policy Review, B.C.’s minimum drink prices are in place to encourage responsible consumption and are based on ounces of alcohol sold at licensed establishments. For example, the minimum price an establishment can charge for a 1.5-ounce cocktail, a five-ounce glass of wine, 341 ml bottles of coolers, beer and cider, or a 12-ounce sleeve of beer or cider, would be $3.
Check out this infographic for detailed information on B.C.’s new minimum drink prices: http://ow.ly/yhGuB
Allowing licensees, such as pubs, restaurants and lounges, to alter their liquor prices throughout the course of the day is a pocket-book friendly change for British Columbians that will help the industry attract customers at times when business may typically be slow.
Additional changes stemming from the Liquor Policy Review also came into effect today - cutting red tape and simplifying liquor licensing rules.
Food-primary establishments must continue to offer a full menu, but if patrons simply wish to order drinks they are not obligated to order food as well. Also, customers can now move freely with their beverage from one adjoining licensed area to another, such as from a pub to an adjoining restaurant - a common-sense change from the previous rules, which required staff to carry customers’ drinks for them.
Licensees may now transfer small amounts of liquor between similar types of establishments. For instance, if a pub is experiencing a shortage of a specific liquor product, a nearby restaurant can transfer liquor to it, or a liquor store can transfer alcohol to another store with the same kind of liquor licence.
Hosts of family Special Occasion Licence (SOL) events may now serve homemade and UBrew/UVin beer, wine or cider - offering further flexibility for consumers. Also, owners of UBrews and UVins, as well as their family members, are now permitted to own other liquor-related establishments - an out-of-date rule that has been updated under modernized liquor policies.
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice -
“Implementing minimum drink prices is an important part of our commitment to protect health and safety, as we move forward on modernizing B.C.’s liquor laws. In setting the minimum price, it was important to us that we listened to both industry and health advocates. We have done that and I believe establishing a $3 per drink minimum achieves a good balance for them, and for British Columbians.”
“By allowing establishments to offer happy hours, as long as they adhere to the new minimum prices, consumers will have more chances to save a few dollars throughout the week and continue to support their local businesses.”
John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform -
“Whether it’s meeting after work for a discounted pint, for example, or enjoying a happy hour cocktail on a Saturday afternoon, these changes create new social opportunities for British Columbians. To balance health and safety, we have put into effect price floors that align with the views expressed by health advocates during our liquor consultations and will help to encourage responsible consumption.”
Ian Tostenson, president, B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association -
“Happy hours are a welcome change for the food and beverage industry, both creating revenue opportunities at times of the day when business may be slow and providing new occasions for customers around the province to catch up over a discounted drink at one of B.C.’s many restaurants. Additional liquor policy updates, like allowing restaurants to serve guests a drink without complicated rules on food consumption, will also reduce confusion for consumers and cut red tape for businesses.”
Mark von Schellwitz, vice president, Western Canada, Restaurants Canada -
“Cutting red tape for licensees and allowing them to transfer liquor between one another is a simple change that will make a big difference for restaurant owners, helping them to ensure they have their customers’ favourite products in stock. This change - as well as allowing variable pricing for drink specials throughout the day - will help ensure a strong and vibrant restaurant and foodservice industry in B.C.”
Poma Dhaliwal, president, Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC) -
“With happy hours up and running in B.C., operators can cater to groups by offering drink specials for ‘team nights,’ for example, helping fill their seats on slow days or during not-so-busy times. I know staff in the industry will also be happy to hear they no longer need to inconvenience their customers by making them wait until a staff member is available to carry their drinks when they simply move from the bar or patio into the restaurant.”
- The production, distribution and sale of B.C. liquors have significant economic benefits for the Province, contributing more than $1.1 billion annually to things like health and social programs.
- To date, 14 of the 73 recommendations from the B.C. Liquor Policy Review have been implemented.
- Government’s goal is to implement 70% of the 73 recommendations by spring 2015.
- A complete re-write of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act is planned for spring 2015. In the meantime, government has adopted a phased-in approach to modernizing B.C.’s liquor laws. The first set of amendments, which modernized outdated provisions and provide the foundation for implementation of key recommendations, received Royal Assent on May 29, 2014.
- Although not part of the Liquor Policy Review, government has also updated an outdated regulation so that bachelor/bachelorette parties are now eligible to apply for SOLs.
Information for licensees: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/lclb/docs-forms/policy-directive-2014-07.pdf
Read the B.C. Liquor Policy Review final report: http://bit.ly/1beqi8i
Learn about the B.C. Liquor Policy Review: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice