June 16, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues,

We are sending an urgent update this morning to share with you a historic announcement:

Attorney General David Eby announced today that, effective July 20th, hospitality licensees will be able to temporarily purchase liquor products at a discounted wholesale price.

This policy will remain in place until March 31, 2021, at which time the program will be reviewed.

This is the most important and significant liquor policy change in a generation. The pricing change will help thousands of neighbourhood pubs and restaurants walk back from the brink of bankruptcy and give them a legitimate chance at surviving the COVID-19 crisis.

ABLE BC estimates that this new pricing structure will reduce the cost of liquor products for pubs and restaurants by up to 20 per cent, which could translate into about five per cent savings that goes directly to their bottom line.

COVID has cut revenues in half, and costs like rent, insurance, and wage rates keep going up year after year. Much of our industry is on the brink of insolvency right now, but today’s announcement gives us a glimmer of hope that maybe some of those businesses can survive after all.

The pricing change will not take place until July 20 to give time for the LDB to adjust their systems and provide hospitality customers access to wholesale pricing. To avoid an increased amount of returns, all liquor sales will be final on products purchased through the LDB between now and July 20.

Positive change through partnership

Although industry has been seeking this change since wholesale pricing for liquor retailers was introduced in 2015, today’s announcement comes as a direct result of ongoing advocacy efforts by ABLE BC and the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP).

ABLE BC has been proud to work alongside the BCRFA, BC Craft Brewers Guild, and others as part of BTAP, which was been advising the Attorney General on liquor policy reforms since 2018 and throughout this COVID crisis.

We deeply appreciate how hard the Attorney General worked personally to make this happen. Many politicians of different governments have talked about this change for years, and they all agreed it needed to be done. But Minister Eby put this on his back and got it over the line.

Our industry is immensely grateful to him and his team for being our industry’s champion when we need in most.

As a show of appreciation, ABLE BC is asking all members to reach out directly to the Attorney General to let him know what this change will mean to your business. You may reach him at AG.Minister@gov.bc.ca.

More policy work underway

In addition to changes to the hospitality pricing model, work is underway by government on several other measures identified within BTAP’s report.

This includes the adoption of several recommendations contained in a third-party assessment by Deloitte of the LDB’s liquor distribution centre in Delta, and conversion of all rural agency store authorizations currently administered by the LDB to a new form of rural liquor licence regulated under the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch by the end of 2020.

We’ll be sharing more details on the Deloitte report in our regular COVID-19 update, going out later today.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me: jeff@ablebc.ca.

-Jeff Guignard, Executive Director

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