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Sixty grocery stores in the Canadian province of Ontario will be permitted to sell beer by the end of 2015, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne revealed this week, according to published reports. "It is an exciting day for people who love beer in Ontario," she said, adding that brews should be on shelves in time for the winter holidays.
As noted by the Toronto Star, the move is a result of an agreement between the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Beer Store, a Mississauga-based private company that has had a de facto monopoly on beer sales in the province since Prohibition ended there in 1927.
Wynne’s so-called "privatization czar," Former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, said that auctioning licenses to grocers should bring the provincial government about CAN $10 million (US $7.5 million).
By May 2017, 150 Ontario supermarkets will be selling beer, and that number will eventually rise to 450 of the province's 1,500 grocery stores. Of the first 60 stores, 48 licenses will be auctioned off to large grocers like Loblaws, while 12 will go to small independents.
The first stores to offer beer will be in the greater Toronto area, 16 in southwestern Ontario, 13 in eastern Ontario and six in the north.
The upcoming placement in grocery stores is seen as a win for the province's craft brewers, which will gain more access to shelves in all stores that sell beer and be able to hire more people to keep up with the increased demand, the Star reported.
Meanwhile, the Beer Store, owned by the foreign parent companies of well-known Canadian brands Labatt, Molson and Sleeman, will retain its monopoly on 24-cases.
Addressing concerns expressed by health care providers about the greater availability of beer, Retail Council of Canada SVP David Wilkes responded that supermarkets would only sell the beverage "in a socially responsible manner."