Ontario Government Direction – Speech from the Throne, Fall Economic Statement

In the July 2018 Speech from the Throne, the Ontario Government outlined its priorities for the legislative session. The speech emphasized smart and efficient use of public resources, and respect for consumer choice. The government also highlighted the need to reduce regulatory burden on Ontario businesses. Specifically, the government reiterated its commitment to expand the sale of beer and wine to convenience stores, grocery stores and big-box stores.

The AGCO took note of the September 2018 report “Managing Transformation: A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario.”  In particular, the AGCO will align its activities with the identified priorities to implement a modernized Ontario government. In the 2018 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the government reiterated its ongoing focus on reducing regulatory burden for business, and its commitment to modernizing the rules for the retail and consumption of beverage alcohol and highlighted its plan to develop options to allow for the sale of beer and wine at corner stores and big-box stores.  As an immediate first step in modernizing in this sector, the AGCO announced the alignment of permissible hours for the Beer Store, the LCBO and other authorized retailers such as grocery stores and agency stores to allow them to sell alcohol from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.

Ontario Legislative Changes                                                                                                           

In December 2017, Ontario passed the Cannabis Act, 2017, in response to the federal legalization of recreational cannabis. In October 2018, Ontario passed the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018. In part, that Act created the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, which will form the basis of the regime for the storefront sale of recreational cannabis in Ontario.

The AGCO is supporting the development and implementation of this private licensing model to create a socially responsible marketplace that can be sustained against the illegal market. The AGCO has and will continue to leverage its existing regulatory expertise to prepare for the opening of storefront recreational cannabis stores in April 2019.

Federal Legislative Changes

The federal government legalized recreational cannabis in Canada through the Cannabis Act, which came into effect on October 17, 2018. In Ontario, the Legalization of Cannabis Secretariat continues its work to coordinate and align the province’s legal, regulatory and policy development as legalization takes effect. As noted above, the recently passed Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 provides for the future regulation of storefront recreational cannabis. 

OLG Gaming Modernization

The OLG continues to implement its gaming modernization initiative which includes three key priorities: becoming more customer-focused; securing qualified service providers for the day-to-day operation of gaming; and renewing the OLG’s role in the conduct, management and oversight of lottery and gaming.

As the OLG’s plan has a significant impact on the AGCO operations, the two organizations will continue to work together as implementation of the modernization strategy moves forward. Key components of the strategy include increased private sector involvement, the introduction of new gaming service providers, new gaming sites and gaming channels, multi-lane lottery sales, rationalization of gaming operations in general and a greater focus on consumer protection and responsible gambling.

Open Government

The Open Government initiative was launched in Ontario in October 2013 with the objective of increasing transparency and accountability in government. The AGCO applies the Open Government approach in a number of its activities, including in its Strategic Engagement Framework and its commitments in accordance with the Open Data Directive. As part of these commitments, the AGCO has published a list of datasets in its custody and control, and over the coming year, will continue to make be making datasets open to the public on its website under through an “open by default” approach.    

Open for Business and Economic Development

This government-wide priority is designed to minimize the burden of regulation on Ontario businesses, foster competitiveness and welcome new business to the province.

Internally, the AGCO continues to work on a number of initiatives which support the overall goals of this program by reducing administrative burdens and using a regulatory approach intended to support responsible economic development. The Standards-Based Approach as the regulatory framework in the gaming sector, for example, allows operators and businesses more flexibility to adapt to marketplace changes and ultimately to increase their competitiveness. A similar approach is also at the forefront for future regulatory reforms in the liquor and horse racing sectors. In the storefront recreational Cannabis stores, the need for operator flexibility is a driving objective in the development and implementation of the regulatory model.

The achievement of these goals is enhanced through the AGCO’s continued efforts to build strategic partnerships and share information with government ministries and agencies including MAG, MOF, MTO, the Ontario Cannabis Store, OLG and the LCBO.

Social Responsibility: Evolving Social Attitudes

In an ongoing effort to modernize as a regulator and to better reflect the industries it regulates and developing societal views, the AGCO continues to refine its role in the promotion of social responsibility in the alcohol, cannabis, gaming and horse racing sectors. In the gaming industry, this has led to a focus on responsible gambling, while the changing views of the liquor industry place a greater emphasis on responsible use and enjoyment. In the horse racing sector, the AGCO is working with its industry partners on the development of a concussion management standards-based rule. Additionally, as part of the regulation of storefront recreational cannabis, the AGCO will be working with the industry to determine the best course to promote social responsibility in this line of business.

Emerging Issues and Industry Trends

The AGCO will continue to stay informed on issues related to unregulated areas of sectors we regulate, including unregulated internet gambling.

As a modern and collaborative agency, the AGCO is prepared to work with government partners, municipalities, law enforcement, and its stakeholders to address new challenges that may arise in the future.

Help us improve the AGCO website

Complete a short survey