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Beer, Wine & Cocktails Available in Convenience and All Grocery Stores by 2026

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that by 2026, convenience and grocery stores in the province will be permitted to sell beer, wine, cider, and ready-to-drink cocktails. This change marks one of the most significant alterations in the province’s alcohol sales history, making Ontario the second Canadian jurisdiction to allow beer sales in corner stores and the first to offer ready-to-drink cocktails in these locations.

Ford emphasized that this expansion will offer consumers more options and convenience. The plan fulfills a promise made during the 2018 election campaign and follows an unsuccessful previous attempt to introduce similar sales. It involves ending a current agreement that limits beer and wine sales to 450 grocery stores and grants the Beer Store exclusive rights to sell larger beer packs by 2025.

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Under the new plan, around 6,700 convenience stores and 1,800 grocery stores in Ontario will be able to set their own prices, a change from the current system where prices are regulated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The plan also mandates a dedicated shelf space for small beer and wine producers.

The Beer Store will maintain a key role in beer distribution and continue its recycling programs for the next five years, without any commitments beyond this period. The company welcomed the new arrangement.

The changes will elevate Ontario to the third highest density of alcohol retail outlets in Canada. The government plans to increase funding for social responsibility initiatives, although the amount is unspecified.

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However, Ontario’s auditor general reported that recent expansions in alcohol sales weren’t consulted with Public Health Ontario. The Ontario Public Health Association expressed concerns about the potential health implications of increased alcohol availability, citing research linking higher accessibility to increased consumption and alcohol-related harm.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction warned that consuming more than two drinks per week poses moderate health risks, including cancer. Additionally, the government announced the removal of a 6.1% basic tax on all on-site retail sales of 100% Ontario wines, a decision welcomed by the industry.

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