POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Province Tables Bills Aiming to Modernize Liquor Sales in Manitoba

By Elisabeth Saftiuk, Director of Policy

Last week, the Government of Manitoba introduced two pieces of legislation intended to modernize liquor service licensing and increase liquor retail convenience.

Bill 38, The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Amendment Act, proposes to simplify the liquor service licensing framework for restaurants and bars in Manitoba by reducing the number of license categories and removing barriers to entry. The proposed legislation would expand eligibility for new service models, such as wine bars, and seasonal or pop-up businesses, by eliminating requirements to incorporate commercial kitchens or entertainment into their business models while still ensuring safe service of alcohol.

Bill 42, The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Amendment and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation Amendment Act, proposes to allow beer vendors and specialty wine stores to apply for a licence to sell the full range of alcoholic products offered through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. The proposed legislation also provides a framework for grocery stores, convenience stores and other retail locations to sell alcohol products as part of a five-year pilot program.

If the proposed legislation passes in the Manitoba Legislature later this year, while no new locations would be created Winnipeg could see up to 70 additional retail locations to purchase spirits and up to 62 additional retail locations to purchase wine. In rural Manitoba, we could see up to 169 additional retail locations to purchase spirits and wine and up to 118 additional retail locations to purchase beer in large case quantities.

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce is supportive of the amendments proposed last week. The legislation seeks to create a more competitive landscape, particularly in rural Manitoba, and streamlines liquor licensing for an industry that was hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and that is still recovering.

For more information, please visit the Government of Manitoba’s website: https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=54618&posted=2022-05-24 and https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=54777&posted=2022-05-26