B.C. to allow sale of alcohol in grocery stores

(QMI AGENCY PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

(QMI AGENCY PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

Jeremy Nuttall, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

VANCOUVER — The B.C. government's decision to allow alcohol to be sold in stores may lead to the privatization of booze sales, the Opposition NDP says.

On Thursday, the Liberal government announced plans to allow liquor to be sold through a store-within-a-store model, while wine will be on designated shelves in grocery stores, and can only be purchased at specific cash registers.

Currently, alcohol can only be sold in government-run stores, or stores that have purchased private store liquor licences.

But NDP liquor critic Shane Simpson said the plans point to future privatization of liquor sales.

"It does lay the groundwork potentially for a privatization initiative...or for an initiative to reduce the number of government stores by challenging whether they're making the kind of revenue they want," Simpson said.

Darryl Walker of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, which represents public liquor store workers, said the union would "be interested" in moving its locations inside grocery stores.

On Friday, the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild said the plan will increase the profile of brewers and "create a win-win" for its members and their communities.

Alcohol will be permitted to be sold in grocery stores in early 2015, the government said.

"We committed to British Columbians and to the industry that we would act quickly to modernize B.C.'s liquor laws — and we're delivering on that promise by bringing in an initial set of amendments to our liquor laws today," Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said in a statement.


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