Wine sells quickly in Ontario as bottles clear off of the shelves at this LCBO in Scarborough. Convenience store operators wouldn't mind a share of these profits.

Beer and wine sold in Scarborough corner stores may be good for business: retailers

Over the summer a petition was launched by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association calling for beer and wine to be sold at more types of retailers.

The Ontario government currently assumes responsibility for the majority of alcohol dispensation across the province. Apart from the privately owned Beer Store — controlled by a conglomerate composed of the Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., Sleeman Breweries Ltd. and Molson Coors Canada — all alcohol sales in Ontario are controlled by the government.

Abdullah Farooqi, who operates a Mac’s Convenience store in Scarborough, said alcohol retailing would be good for his business.

“There is responsibility but we already do (take responsibility) with tobacco products, also the lottery and other sophisticated products,” he said. “We don’t sell those to minors. So we already practice this and will keep this in mind if we sell alcohol products like beer and wine.”

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is a Crown corporation established in 1927. There are currently 623 LCBO stores operating across Ontario.

A portion of annual profits from the LCBO is distributed to the provincial government. In 2011, sales of alcohol in Ontario garnered $4.7 billion, of which $1.63 billion was disbursed to the Ontario government.

The federal government also collects five per cent of sales as alcohol is subject the HST. In 2011 the total amount of HST gained by the LCBO was over $400 million.

Scott Blodgett, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said he recognizes Crown corporation control of alcohol sales in Ontario as positive protocol.

“The current system balances access for both customers and suppliers with social responsibility,” he said. “Ontarians have access to beverage alcohol at more than 1,700 retail outlets, including over 600 LCBO stores, The Beer Store, wine retail stores, LCBO agency stores, and at wineries and breweries.”

Blodgett added that the LCBO will be expanding its store network by 70 stores in the next two years.

“The concerns of convenience owners [are taken] seriously, but we believe the current system of selling liquor is an effective way to guard the public interest,” he said.