FREDERICTON, Newfoundland, Sept. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the third time since 2015, Restaurants Canada has taken stock of liquor policies impacting foodservice and hospitality businesses from coast to coast in its biennial Raise the Bar report.

This year, New Brunswick has been downgraded to a D-minus, mainly due to continued foot-dragging on making wholesale liquor pricing available to licensed establishments.

“Bar and restaurant operators are becoming more and more frustrated with the government’s unfulfilled promise to give them volume discounts on beverage alcohol,” said Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Atlantic Canada. “Hopefully now that the province is under new leadership that has been taking concrete action to improve conditions for small businesses, we might finally see progress toward this long-awaited policy change.”

Full 2019 Raise the Bar report card rankings:

GradeProvince
BAlberta
B-Nova Scotia
B-Prince Edward Island
B-Quebec
CBritish Columbia
CManitoba
C-Ontario
C-Saskatchewan
D-New Brunswick
D-Newfoundland & Labrador

A little less conversation, a little more action, please

Numerous consultations have been held over the years, which have provided policy-makers with a clear road map of what needs to be done to bring New Brunswick’s liquor legislation into the 21st century. The only roadblock has been a lack of political will.

In the meantime, licensed establishments continue to be saddled with an excessive amount of needless red tape. For instance, restaurant patrons are prohibited from standing while consuming alcohol — making it technically illegal to take a drink after a toast unless seated.

Meanwhile, as much as foodservice and hospitality businesses have benefited from growing interest in craft products, the proliferation of much less heavily regulated taprooms has created unfair competition. To even the playing field, the province needs to free bars and restaurants from unnecessary rules and restrictions and give them permission to sell alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption.

Survey says…

Compared to two years ago, New Brunswick’s licensed foodservice operators say liquor policies are:

BetterThe sameWorse
4%81%15%

How can New Brunswick raise the bar for licensed establishments?  

  1. Make wholesale pricing available to all liquor licensees, for all types of beverage alcohol products. Currently only restaurateurs in Alberta and on Prince Edward Island have access to discounted wholesale pricing on wine, spirits and beer. New Brunswick is still the only Maritime province where liquor licensees can’t get a volume discount on beverage alcohol of any type.
     
  2. Allow bars and restaurants to procure products directly from craft brewers. This would cut down on the administrative burden and unnecessary red tape currently shouldered by government, as well as liquor licensees. The provincial liquor corporation just can’t keep up with the constantly evolving offerings of the craft beer industry, resulting in constant delays and mix-ups.
     
  3. Undertake a comprehensive re-write of liquor legislation to cut red tape and reflect changing market conditions. It’s time to update rules that are out of step with modern business practices.
     
  4. Allow all liquor licensees to sell alcohol for off-site consumption. Why should restaurateurs who are trained and trusted to serve alcoholic beverages within their establishments be restricted from selling those same products to their customers to enjoy off-site?
     
  5. Introduce a liquor server wage. A wage differential for tipped workers allows restaurateurs to allocate more towards higher wages for non-gratuity earning kitchen staff, who are typically harder to attract and retain.
     
  6. Reduce excessive markups on beverage alcohol products. The amount of tax collected on liquor in Canada is among the highest in the world. Across the country, a cocktail of federal and provincial taxes and fees currently make up: Nearly 50 per cent of the cost of beer; between 65 and 70 per cent of the final price of wine; and up to 80 per cent of the cost of spirits.

Visit info.restaurantscanada.org/raise-the-bar to download the full report and join in the online conversation with the hashtag #RaiseTheBar2019.

Media Contact:

Marlee Wasser │ 416-649-4254 │ media@restaurantscanada.org

About Raise the Bar

Raise the Bar is a report produced every two years by Restaurants Canada evaluating the impact of liquor policies on bars and restaurants across the country.

Provincial policies evaluated for the 2019 Raise the Bar report were reviewed within the following four major categories and, after analysis and weighting, each province was given an overall letter grade:

  1. Pricing and Selection
  2. Licensing and Regulation
  3. Customer Sales
  4. Political/Regulatory Activity

All survey results featured in the 2019 Raise the Bar report were compiled from more than 700 responses to an online questionnaire that was emailed to foodservice operators across Canada between June 12 and Aug. 26, 2019.

About Restaurants Canada

Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Canada’s foodservice sector is an $89 billion industry that directly employs 1.2 million workers, is Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serves 22 million customers across the country every day.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/739d2f9d-114e-40df-93ba-c37ad8e0b07c