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 new and changing government regulations and taxes, a worsening labour shortage, continued competitive pressure from government liquor and grocery wine stores, a growing cannabis retail market, and the impending legalization (in October) of cannabis edibles, our industry continues to experience significant challenges 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 businesses.

2018-19 Recap

Over the past year, we have worked hard to make demonstrable progress in key policy areas while also expanding business opportunities for our industry.

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

Update on LDB

ABLE BC is keenly aware of the serious product shortages and ordering challenges members experience with the LDB and how these issues have disrupted your businesses. We are in constant contact with the LDB and continue to work with their Senior Wholesale Team to resolve these challenges and bring about long-term change benefitting all of our members – and we are making important progress.

After a lengthy process, in May the LDB completed its transition to the Delta Distribution Centre. At more than double the capacity of the Vancouver warehouse, the LDB can better manage and access product and get it to customers more efficiently. They can also stock 15 days worth of product in the new warehouse, a vast improvement over the few days they could previously stock.

After years of dedicated effort, we’re starting to see tangible signs that the LDB’s significant, multi-year transformation is yielding the results that they committed to several years ago.

For instance, the LDB is reporting in stock levels above 94% for the current year – up from the low 80%’s at this time last year (when the transition from the old Vancouver warehouse began).

But there is clearly still more work to do.

In June, Deloitte Canada conducted an independent review of the LDB’s wholesale operations and distribution centre. The review was commissioned by the provincial government in December 2018 in direct response to our industry’s persistent complaints about poor service. ABLE BC was actively engaged in the review process and represented the interests and concerns of our members. Government expects to receive results of the review in September, at which time we will push to see the report’s recommendations released publicly and implemented fully.

Progress on BTAP

Last summer, government published the final report of the Business Technical Advisory Panel (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 licensee sales
  • create hospitality pricing model
  • 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, Attorney General David Eby announced the BTAP recommendations were forming the roadmap for government’s liquor policy reforms. The first of those changes were implemented in February, with new policy for industry trade testing and charity events.

Although we are all frustrated by the slow rollout of the recommendations, the Attorney General has assured us that government is working diligently to make progress on the suggested changes. In September, the panel is reconvening with government to finalize a work plan—a vital next step in moving forward with the BTAP recommendations.

Cannabis Legalization 2.0

Last fall, the federal government legalized non-medical cannabis. British Columbians can purchase cannabis through privately-run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and online sales. BC has been moving much slower than other provinces, with less than 60 private stores open now.

ABLE BC has worked diligently behind the scenes to secure regulatory clarity for those members applying for a retail license. We continue to work with our provincial and municipal partners to ensure cannabis is retailed safely and responsibly by experienced retailers in age-controlled environments. ABLE BC is also now accepting licensed non-medical cannabis retail stores as members.

On October 17, 2019, the federal government will legalize cannabis edibles, concentrates, beverages, and topicals. Many predict the edibles market will generate higher profits for retailers than cannabis products already legal and bring in millions of new consumers. Our industry must adopt creative strategies to avoid market erosion.

Over the past year, ABLE BC has supported members with webinars, resources, signage, and seminars on cannabis-related topics. Over the next year, we will continue to help you manage these changes and adapt to the rapidly changing industry.

Labour Shortages

We know firsthand from meetings with licensees in every region of BC how hard it is to find qualified labour for your kitchen, bar, or store. According to the BC government’s own Labour Market Outlook, our economy will be short about 100,000 workers over the next 10 years. Hospitality and tourism businesses will be hit particularly hard as we grapple with the tightest labour market in decades.

The impact of this labour shortage is being exacerbated by a persistent crisis in housing supply and affordability, as well as increased labour costs from rising minimum wage, the new Employer Health Tax, and expensive changes to Employment Standards regulations.

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 advance sustainable, business-friendly labour policies that provide greater access to workers and resolve these challenges over the long term. While the entire hospitality and tourism industry is seeking solutions to issues around affordable housing and labour supply, we have also been encouraging government to implement solutions that balance the cumulative impact of increased costs to BC’s small business community.

New Lottery Compensation

On April 1, 2019, the BC Lottery Corporation made positive changes to its compensation structure for lottery retail and hospitality partners. The new structure brings BC in line with lottery compensation structures across Canada, and is one means to support retailers in managing a tight labour market with increasing costs.

The current five per cent base commission paid to retailers has not changed but the new model has a number of enhancements, including: revised bonus program, introduction of one per cent Prize Redemption Commission, an enhanced ‘seller’s prize’ program, and the elimination of the $5 lottery administration fee. Overall, these changes will mean an increase of $70 million in new compensation for members selling lotto!

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.

Other issues we’re advocating for this year

In 2019-20, ABLE BC is also advocating for the following key policy issues on your behalf:

  • Maintain the 1 km distance rule between liquor stores in perpetuity
  • Extend the moratorium on new LRS licenses beyond 2022 (when it is currently set to expire)
  • Allow liquor primaries to offer table bottle service
  • Create fixed and transparent markup policy for hospitality products sold through the LDB, but not carried in BC Liquor Stores
  • Implement a sensible and fair regulatory framework that encourages ride-sharing and makes it available to consumers throughout the province
  • Limit any future expansion of grocery store liquor licenses or alcohol product selection

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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