Fighting for your interests: our advocacy work

The Alliance of Beverage Licensees is the leading voice of British Columbia’s private liquor and cannabis retail industries. Our primary goal is to help build thriving and sustainable private liquor and cannabis retail industries 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 in October 2018, ongoing policy changes, and the rapidly changing business world, our industry continues to experience significant challenges and uncertainty. But these changes also offer us considerable opportunities for growth.

As the voice of British Columbia’s private liquor and cannabis retail industries, ABLE BC remains committed to what matters most: protecting your investments and securing regulatory certainty for the future of your businesses.

2018 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 Member Handbook.

New provincial government

Since the NDP’s election in 2017, ABLE BC has been working hard to ensure Premier Horgan, his Ministers, MLAs, and other senior government staff are aware of our industry’s long-standing concerns and vital contributions to BC’s economic health. Despite changes throughout the bureaucracy, we have established productive relationships with all levels of government and continue to work in partnership with them.

New LCRB General Manager

More recently, Mary Sue Maloughney took over as the new Assistant Deputy Minister and General Manage of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). ABLE BC has met with Mary Sue and her team to bring them up to speed on our policy priorities and the policy issues BC’s private liquor industry currently faces.

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 tackle and 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.

Independent Review of LDB

In December 2018, the BC government announced it will be conducting an independent review of the LDB in 2019 – a direct response to our industry’s constant concerns and complaints about the poor levels of service we continue to receive. In May 2019, the Ministry of Attorney General announced that work is now underway on the review and Deloitte Canada has been engaged to conduct the review. Read more here.

ABLE BC will be actively engaged throughout the review process to advance our members’ interests. We will also work to ensure Deloitte has a full understanding of how the LDB’s chronic product shortages, as well as delivery and invoicing issues have been hurting your businesses.

Legalization of non-medical cannabis

On October 17, 2018, the federal government legalized non-medical cannabis in Canada. British Columbians can purchase cannabis through privately-run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and online sales. Find a list of licensed stores here.

ABLE BC has worked diligently behind-the-scenes over the past two years to secure regulatory clarity for those members who are interested in applying for a retail license. Although the government opted not to sell cannabis in private liquor stores, we secured several key policy victories such as the ability to connect a liquor store to a cannabis store via a shared foyer.

Now that the province is accepting applications for cannabis retail stores, we are continuing to work with our provincial and municipal partners to ensure cannabis is retailed safely and responsibly by experienced retailers in age-controlled environments.

BC’s liquor industry will be impacted by cannabis legalization

Even if you don’t sell cannabis, legalization means important changes to your businesses – such as a potential decline in alcohol sales, more complicated employment framework, and possible increase to your on-premise liability.

ABLE BC is helping you get up to speed by hosting webinars and educational seminars (BC Hospitality Summit and BC Liquor Conference) on related topics, including cannabis in the workplace, practical tips for dealing with impaired customers, and strategies to manage risk. You can also purchase cannabis-related signage from our online store.

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, such as Chair of the Coalition of BC Businesses, ABLE BC is meeting regularly with government to advance sustainable, business-friendly labour policies that provide greater access to workers and resolve these challenges over the long term.

Progress on Liquor Industry 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. Mr. Hicken convened a Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP) comprised of industry association stakeholders, including ABLE BC.

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. In particular, the report contains clear recommendations to support several of ABLE BC’s current policy priorities, such as:

  • allow licensee sales (i.e. let private retailers sell to LPs, FPs, and holders of SEPs)
  • 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

In January 2019, at our annual post-holiday Industry Reception, Attorney General David Eby announced that the BTAP recommendations are forming the “roadmap” of government’s liquor policy reforms in 2019. Government announced the first of those liquor policy reforms in February, implementing new policy for industry trade testing and charity events. We anticipate further announcements in the coming months.

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

In 2018, 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

Are you reading our e-newsletter?

We send out a biweekly Industry Update to provide members and industry professionals with important updates on industry issues, policy changes, upcoming events, and the Alliance’s advocacy work. If you don’t yet receive our emails, sign-up here.

2019: Other issues we’re advocating for this year

In addition to the issues discussed above and the BTAP report, in 2019 ABLE is 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
  • 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.

Join the fight! Become a member today.

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