TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Government has tabled a bill to scrap the Master Framework Agreement (MFA) between the province and The Beer Store, a move that is being touted as a big step towards allowing beer sales in corner stores and big box retailers.
The MFA was struck in 2015 by the previous Liberal government when it expanded beer sales into 450 grocery store locations, and was intended to be in effect for 10 years, effectively limiting any further expansion of beer retail sales in the province.
“The unfair agreement with the Beer Store puts the interests of three large global brewers ahead of Ontario consumers, taxpayers and small businesses,” said Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli in a statement. “It’s a bad deal for people in Ontario who want more choice and convenience, and it’s deeply unfair to businesses who want to compete in this sector.”
Under the terms of the MFA as it stands, the government is required to pay a penalty to the Beer Store – which is majority owned by multi-national companies Molson Coors, Labatt/AB-InBev, and Sleeman/Sapporo – if the contract is breached. While the exact amount of the penalty is not clearly stated, some industry sources have suggested it could be as high as $1 billion.
Fedeli said that the bill is intended to reach final vote before the legislature goes into its summer recess on June 7th, although the announcement notes that the government “looks forward to continuing discussions with the Beer Store with the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable amendment that will improve choice and convenience.”
The tabling of the legislation comes in tandem with the release of a report by Ken Hughes, Ontario Special Advisor for the Beverage Alcohol Review, entitled The Case for Change: Increasing Choice and Expanding Opportunity in Ontario’s Alcohol Sector.
Source: Ontario Government press release