Ford's plan for convenience store beer could cost Ontario taxpayers big money

Apr 18 2019, 1:10 pm

It’s long been public knowledge for several months that one of Doug Ford’s major plans is to expand the sale of beer to convenience stores across Ontario.

The promise has been made in order to provide consumers with more choice and access, while also creating more opportunities for private sector sellers and distributors.

But it appears that the plan could end up costing the province a lot of money.

The Master Framework Agreement, fully accessible online, outlines an agreement made between the three major brewing corporations (Labatt, Molson and Sleeman), The Beer Store, and the province of Ontario.

The agreement states that the province would ensure that beer is not authorized for sale or distribution in Ontario except for by The Beer Store, the LCBO, stores operated by either, breweries, or duty-free stores.

If the agreement is breached, the document states that a remedy would be required, an option of which is payment of a monetary award by the breaching Party.

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“Such an award shall be calculated on the basis of the normal principles of damages for breach of contract,” the document reads. And the damages of beer being sold in the countless convenience stores across the province would, imaginably, be quite costly.

Of the outlets listed in the document’s allowed new private retail outlets, convenience stores are not mentioned. Which means that the sale of beer in corner stores would fall under a “critical breach” of the agreement, potentially requiring financial compensation.

The Agreement was first made in 2015, and is supposed to be in effect for an initial period of 10 years.

Which means that in terms of this document, additional outlets for sales of beer won’t be on the table for discussion until 2025, without breaching the agreement and compensation being owed.

“The Province is currently in discussions with the Beer Store and the brewers that are parties to the Master Framework Agreement. The discussions are aimed at reaching a mutually agreeable amendment to the MFA to improve customer convenience and choice,” Bill Walker, a spokesperson for The Beer Store, told Daily Hive.

“We cannot disclose the details of these ongoing discussions,” he said.

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