Ontario’s Liberal government hopes to have six packs of beer for sale in at least 60 grocery stores by Christmas, and in 450 supermarkets within three years.
A 10-year agreement between the government and foreign-owned Brewers Retail, which owns 447 Beer Store outlets, will keep the same prices wherever beer is sold.
The Beer Store has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on retailing beer in Ontario since prohibition was repealed nearly 90 years ago.
Grocery stores will be required to devote 20 per cent of their beer shelf space to products from Ontario’s small and craft brewers.
The first batch of licences will be limited to 25 grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area, 16 in western Ontario, 13 in the east and six in the north, which is divided further among large, medium and small operators.
Another change will allow 9,000 smaller bars and restaurants to buy beer at retail prices instead of paying premium rates.