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NL government’s relations with bars and restaurants ranks dead last in Canada

Restaurant Canada has released its second Raise the Bar report card on provincial liquor policies.
Restaurant Canada has released its second Raise the Bar report card on provincial liquor policies.

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The good news is relations between the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) and bar and restaurant owners in the province have improved.

The bad: the adjustments only scratch the surface of the changes that are required, according to Restaurant Canada.

Two years ago, the industry group gave Newfoundland and Labrador an “F” grade on its first Raise the Bar report card on provincial liquor policies.

The province brings up the rear in the latest report card, scoring a D-minus, the worst in Canada.

Raise the Bar rates each province on the friendliness of their liquor policies for bars and restaurants, chiefly in terms of price, selection, licensing and regulation.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s score was the result of high prices, limited selection and excess red tape.

A modern, fair and competitive provincial liquor system is still far off, the report notes.

The NLC has taken steps to improve relations with licensees by giving more notice of price increases, streamlining inspections and stopping the special-order fee.

“It’s frustrating to see a few administrative improvements for licensees, but zero action on the core issues of pricing and regulations,” Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada’s vice president for Atlantic Canada, said in a news release.

“We need the government and the NLC to get behind the bar and restaurant industry as a key contributor to the economy. They should be helping licensees to grow and succeed, not milking them dry.”

The report also notes that the NLC is in a conflict of interest as a licensee supplier, competitor and regulator.

“We hope this government has the will to move forward with a more modern and competitive system for sourcing and serving beer, wine and spirits,” Erjavec said.

There are 48,000 bars and licensed restaurants in Canada, directly employing 560,000 Canadians. They create $8.2 billion a year in economic activity.

The complete Raise the Bar report card is available at https://www.restaurantscanada.org/raise-the-bar-2017.

The full rankings are:

- Alberta      B

- Quebec    B-minus

- Nova Scotia    B-minus

- PEI    B-minus

- British Columbia    C

- Manitoba    C

- Saskatchewan    C-minus

- Ontario    D-plus

- New Brunswick    D

- Newfoundland and Labrador   D-minus

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