403,412 Ontarians say it’s time The Beer Store had some competition

403,412 Ontarians say it’s time The Beer Store had some competition and voice support for beer in convenience stores

www.freeourbeer.ca petition unveiled in Toronto is the largest in Ontario history

April 23, 2014 – Toronto – Amid a “fear mongering” ad blitz launched by The Beer Store to protect its near-monopoly on beer sales in Ontario, The Ontario Convenience Stores Association unveiled an unprecedented show of public support for modernizing Ontario’s outdated alcohol retailing laws with a 403,412 name petition signed by Ontarians from communities across the province. It is the largest single signed petition ever collected in Ontario and the second-largest in Canada.  The petition calls on the Ontario Legislature to broaden Ontario’s current alcohol retailing system to include convenience stores, in particular to allow competition with the foreign-owned Beer Store.

“The over 400,000 Ontarians that signed this petition were consistent in one thing – it’s time the foreign-owned Beer Store had a little home-grown competition.  Ontario’s alcohol retailing system was designed during prohibition in 1927 – 87 years ago – and people are ready for change,” said Dave Bryans, CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).  “The people who have signed this petition are New Democrats, Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. They’re parents, neighbours and responsible adults who want the same simple convenience that their friends and relatives outside Ontario enjoy.  Convenience stores are already responsibly offering alcohol in over 200 communities and it’s time to add on to the existing system with more options for consumers.”

The petition, which was collected over the course of six weeks in 2013, is the latest evidence of the widespread support for modernizing Ontario’s alcohol retailing system to include convenience stores.  People can still sign the petition at www.freeourbeer.ca.

OCSA members have also pledged support for Ontario craft brewers and Ontario wineries in a modernized retailing system. Retailers previously announced a plan to voluntarily set aside at least 30% of beer and wine retail space for Ontario wines and craft beer, creating significantly more consumer exposure and retailing opportunities than they currently have – especially in the communities where they operate.

“Not only does our plan dedicate 30% of space to Ontario craft beer and wines, it also allows Ontario craft brewers and Ontario wineries access to a modern, established distribution and logistics system to get their products into stores,” added Bryans. “Our distribution partners have the ability to cost-effectively ship even a single bottle of wine or six-pack of beer to individual stores.  Gone are the days when stores needed to buy in large quantities and manufacturers needed to own fleets of trucks for distribution.”

In December 2013, OCSA released an Ipsos Reid study that revealed that nearly seven-in-ten (69%) people in Ontario want to see private retailers, like convenience stores, sell alcohol and compete with the foreign-owned Beer Store.

About OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents convenience stores throughout the province that are committed to Responsible Community Retailing.  The OCSA membership comprises nearly 7,000 of the 11,000 convenience stores in Ontario.  The convenience store industry represents $13 billion in sales annually in Ontario and employs over 69,000 people.  Convenience stores are also the largest partner of the Ontario government for the OLG, selling 75% of all lottery tickets in the province and returning billions in tax and gaming revenues to public coffers. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.