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You can finally buy beer in select Ontario grocery stores

Loblaws, Walmart, Sobeys, Metro and a group of independent grocers will be the first supermarkets allowed to sell beer in Ontario.

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For those of us in Quebec and other provinces, who have been enjoying this privilege for years, we say, “À votre santé!”

Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced Wednesday that up to 60 grocery store locations could be authorized to sell beer by the end of next month. Other winning bidders in the licence auction include Farm Boy, Galleria Supermarket, Hanahreum Mart, La Mantia’s Country Market, Longo’s, Michael-Angelos Market Place, Pino’s Get Fresh and Starsky Fine Foods.

“We are moving quickly to ensure that beer will be sold in grocery stores in a socially responsible manner,” Sousa said in a statement. Additionally, retailers will have to follow certain guidelines when selling alcohol, including having designated sales areas, restricted hours for sale and limits on package sizes and how much alcohol can be sold by volume.

Dating back to Prohibition, Ontarians (or at the very least, its regulators) have held a far more puritanical view on alcohol regulation than some of the other provinces have, but with the country’s potential pot legalization policies relaxing post-election, it’s obvious that Canadian views are shifting, making this a timely entry for beer producers.

In addition, the 100 Ontario craft brewers, which currently employ about 1,000 people, are expected to double or triple the size of the industry within a decade, meaning thousands of new jobs, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

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Currently each province has its own regulations about alcohol sales. According to City News, here is a breakdown:

British Columbia: Beer, wine and spirits are sold in provincially owned and private liquor stores. Craft beer can be purchased at the brewery.

Alberta: Beer, wine and spirits are sold in privately owned liquor stores.

Saskatchewan: Beer, wine and spirits are sold at provincially owned liquor stores, rural franchises licenced by the government and in three privately owned stores. Beer, wine and spirits are also available at various “off sales” attached to bars and restaurants.

Manitoba: There is a mix of government-run and private wine and beer stores. Hotels are allowed to sell beer as licenced vendors, similar to “off sales.”

Quebec: Beer and wine are sold in grocery stores and corner stores. Wine, spirits and select beer are sold in government-run outlets.

Nova Scotia: Beer, wine and spirits are sold at provincially owned liquor store outlets. Some beer, wine and spirits are available at some private stores.

New Brunswick: Beer, wine and spirits are sold in provincially owned liquor store outlets. A limited selection of wines is available at some grocery stores.

Prince Edward Island: Beer, wine and spirits are sold at provincially owned liquor store outlets and a number of licenced agency stores.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Beer is available in various convenience stores. Liquor and beer are sold at provincially owned liquor store outlets. Wine is sold only at provincially owned liquor store outlets.

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