Fighting for your interests: our advocacy work

The Alliance of Beverage Licensees is the voice of British Columbia’s private liquor industry. Our primary goal is to help build a thriving and sustainable liquor industry in BC by fighting for your interests, enhancing private sector opportunities, and proactively solving industry challenges.

We work behind-the-scenes with all levels of government and build partnerships across the industry, so we can find common solutions to shared challenges.

Our industry is experiencing significant change & uncertainty

With the federal legalization of non-medical cannabis rapidly approaching, ongoing policy changes, and a new provincial government in power, our industry continues to experience significant change and uncertainty. But, these changes also offer us considerable opportunities for growth. ABLE BC remains committed to what matters most: protecting your investments and securing regulatory certainty for the future of your business.

2017-18 Recap

Over the past year, ABLE BC has worked tirelessly to fight for your interests, enhance private sector opportunities, and address business irritants.

Read on to learn more about the issues we’re advocating for or download a copy of our 2018 Member Handbook.

New provincial government

For the first time in 16 years, British Columbians have a new provincial government. ABLE BC is working hard to ensure Premier Horgan, his Ministers, MLAs, and senior government staff are aware of our industry’s concerns and vital contributions to BC’s economic health.

New LDB Distribution Centre

ABLE BC is keenly aware of the serious product shortages and ordering challenges members are experiencing with the LDB. We are in constant contact with the LDB and continue to work with their Senior Wholesale Team to resolve these challenges.

We are also optimistic that the LDB’s move to a larger Lower Mainland distribution centre will be a positive step forward in resolving these issues and bring about long-term change benefiting all of our members. Since August 1, 2018, the new Delta Distribution Centre has been receiving products. The LDB plans to begin servicing customers from DDC starting in September.

Labour shortages

Businesses across BC are grappling with severe labour shortages as the province experiences the tightest labour market in decades. Through our work with go2HR and other industry partners, and as Chair of the Coalition of BC Businesses, ABLE BC is meeting regularly with government to develop labour policy, provide businesses greater access to workers, and resolve these challenges.

Legalization of non-medical cannabis

After a historic vote in Canada’s Senate, Canadians can expect that adult-use recreational cannabis will be legal as of October 17, 2018. British Columbians will be able to purchase non-medical cannabis through privately-run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and online sales.

Upon the legalization of non-medical cannabis in October, ABLE BC will accept licensed non-medical cannabis private retail stores as members.

Over the past year, ABLE BC has engaged with the province and municipalities to get members the clarity they need to evaluate the business and investment decisions inherent to opening a cannabis retail business in their communities. ABLE BC is continuing to work with our municipal partners to ensure cannabis is retailed safely and responsibly by experienced retailers in age-controlled environments.

Legalization will also impact the liquor industry – from alcohol sales to your employment framework and liquor liability. In some US jurisdictions, legalized marijuana sales have caused a drop in alcohol sales of 15-20%. Until we have a more mature legal cannabis market, it is unclear what the impact in BC will be. Liquor retailers and on-premise operators should plan on some sort of fluctuation in alcohol sales, likely 5-10% in the short-term.

To help members prepare for cannabis legalization, ABLE BC will continue hosting webinars and educational seminars on related topics including: cannabis in the workplace, modifying your house policies, practical tips for dealing with impaired customers, and other strategies to manage risk.

Business Technical Advisory Panel

In 2017, the Attorney General retained Mark Hicken as a liquor policy advisor to liaise with industry stakeholders and provide recommendations to government on ways to support BC’s liquor industry. As a key part of this work, Mr. Hicken convened a Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP) comprised of industry association stakeholders, including ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard.

After several days of highly productive deliberations and hearings in spring 2018, the panel found a wide range of consensus on shared challenges and was able to unite behind several workable solutions. In June 2018, government published the final report of BTAP. The panel offered 24 recommendations that, if implemented, will have a lasting positive impact on BC’s private liquor industry.

The report contains clear recommendations to support several of ABLE BC’s current policy priorities, such as:

  • allow private retailers to sell products to LPs, FPs, and holders of Special Event Permits (i.e. licensee sales)
  • create a wholesale pricing model for LPs and FPs (i.e. hospitality pricing)
  • improve wholesale product delivery by allowing third party distributors to deliver non-stocked wholesale products
  • eliminate the current management conflict of interest at the BCLDB between BC Liquor Stores and LDB Wholesale

The government is committed to evaluating the recommendations in the coming months. ABLE BC looks forward to engaging with them further in 2018-19 to explore implementing these recommendations.

We also need your help to make sure government is listening. Click here for instructions on how you can help fix BC’s liquor policies and achieve generational change in our industry.

Minimum wage increases

In 2018, the BC NDP government released their plans on increasing minimum wage over the next 4 years, with an immediate increase of $12.65 an hour on June 1, 2018. The four, staged increases will allow employers to plan for predictable and stable wage increases over time.

Liquor server wage

Earlier this year, ABLE BC was extremely disappointed to announce that government will be phasing out the liquor server wage. Although we had expected this based on our conversations with the Fair Wage Commission and government, we know this move is short-sighted and will hurt employees in our industry. As of June 1, 2018, the liquor server wage increased by $1.30 to $11.40 per hour. Incremental increases will continue on June 1 each year, until the general minimum wage is reached, of at least $15.20 per hour, in 2021.

 

Hotel Liquor Licensees

ABLE BC is proud to represent the liquor policy interests of the BC Hotel Association. On their behalf, we have recently advocated for the following positive policy changes:

  • Guests at a hotel or resort can take unfinished alcoholic beverages from the hotel bar or restaurant to their room
  • Hotels and resorts can serve one standard free alcoholic drink to guests in lobby or reception area at check-in
  • Liquor can now be delivered to hotel guests by room service 24 hours a day
  • Licensees have additional flexibility in liquor licensing for special events

2018-19: Other issues we’re advocating for in the coming year

In addition to the issues discussed above, in 2018-19 ABLE will be advocating for key policy issues on behalf of our members, including:

  • Maintain the 1 km distance rule between liquor stores
  • Extend the moratorium on new LRS licenses beyond 2022
  • Revise and expand the compensation agreement with BC Lotto so that licensees selling Lotto can keep a larger share of the profits
  • Allow liquor primaries to offer table bottle service
  • Allow private liquor stores and liquor primaries to sell and refill growlers
  • Create fixed and transparent markup policy for hospitality products sold through the LDB, but not carried in BC Liquor Stores
  • Modernize inducement policy to better reflect business relationships with suppliers

ABLE BC is the only organization that fights for your interests. Your membership ensures we can continue doing so.

If you are not yet a member of the Alliance, we hope you will consider joining today. Sign-up for your membership online or contact Danielle Leroux (Director of Membership & Communications) at 604-688-5560 or danielle@ablebc.ca.

Ready to join? Become a member today.

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