The following directives form part of the Liquor Advertising Guidelines for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers and provide guidance on defining practices that may tend to encourage the immoderate consumption of liquor. Liquor sales licensees are prohibited from engaging in or permitting practices which may tend to encourage patrons’ immoderate consumption of liquor by s.20 (1) of Regulation 719 under the Liquor Licence Act.

Liquor sales licensees in Ontario are required to offer, promote, sell, and serve liquor in accordance with these directives.

  1. A standard-sized drink may not be sold or supplied for less than the prices noted below. As outlined in ss.20 (3) of Regulation 719, licensees may not offer for sale or supply a serving of beer, cider, or cooler; regular wine; or fortified wine; for a price below the minimum price of $2, or a serving of spirits for a price below $1.34, including taxes, whether the liquor is sold separately or as part of a package that includes other goods or services such as food, a haircut or a spa treatment.

    A serving of liquor is defined as follows:

    1. 341 ml (12 oz) of beer, cider or cooler;
    2. 29 ml (1 oz) of spirits;
    3. 142 ml (5 oz) of regular wine;
    4. 85 ml (3 oz) of fortified wine.
  2. The minimum price changes depending on the size of the serving of liquor provided to the patron. If a licensee offers for sale a serving of liquor that differs in size from those listed above, the minimum price for that serving shall increase or decrease in direct proportion to the difference in volume of liquor contained in that serving.

For easy reference, the following chart provides some examples of the minimum price for various common sizes in which liquor is served:

Beer

Wine

Spirits

Size

Minimum Price

Size

Minimum Price

Size

Minimum Price

284 ml (10 oz)

$1.67

142 ml (5 oz)

$2.00

14 ml (0.5 oz)

$0.67

341 ml (12 oz)

$2.00

170 ml (6 oz)

$2.40

29 ml (1 oz)

$1.34

455 ml (16 oz)

$2.67

500 ml (18 oz)

$7.20

43 ml (1.5 oz)

$2.01

568 ml (20 oz)

$3.33

750 ml (26 oz)

$10.40

57 ml (2 oz)

$2.68

1.7 l (60 oz)

$10.00

1 l (35 oz)

$14.00

85 ml (3 oz)

$4.02

  1. Responsible drink price flexibility is permitted. A licensee may vary the purchase price of liquor as long as it remains above the minimum price, whether offered in combination with food or other goods or services, such as ‘wine with dinner’, ‘beer with wings’, or ‘a cocktail with a spa treatment’ or for a specified time. For example, a licensee may offer a different price for a glass of wine provided with a certain meal on a regular basis, a different price for martinis on a certain day or a different price for domestic beers, house wine and bar shots during a certain period of a day as long as the cost of the liquor itself remains at or above the minimum price. It is important to remember that licensees are prohibited from requiring patrons to purchase liquor to enter or remain on the premises and are therefore required to offer other goods and services that do not require the purchase of alcohol.
     
  2. Revised drink prices must always be posted or provided to patrons. If there is a temporary change in the price of liquor, served alone or in combination with food or other goods or services, the licensee must post or provide a notice specifying the change and make it visible or available to all patrons attending the premises while the change is in effect to comply with s.53 of Regulation 719.
  3. Liquor prices must be the same for all patrons. A licensee is required to offer uniform liquor pricing to all patrons. Promotions that target certain segments of the population, such as students or women, are not permitted. A licensee, however, is permitted to offer different liquor prices in separate locations of their establishment. For example, a licensee may offer liquor prices to patrons in a patio area that are different from those offered in an indoor area. A licensee may accept items such as discounted gift cards for the purchase of liquor and food or other goods or services as long as the items are available to all segments of the population.
     
  4. Drink prices may not be based on the purchase of other drinks. A licensee is not permitted to offer a difference in the price of liquor which is contingent on another purchase of liquor or is offered at regular intervals. For example, promotions such as ‘2 for 1 drinks’, ‘2nd drink is ½ off’ or ‘every 3rd drink is $2’ are prohibited under all circumstances.
     
  5. Prices and promotions may be advertised outside of the establishment. A licensee may advertise or post liquor prices and promotions outside of the licensed premises. For example, postings on a ‘sandwich board’ may include such items as time periods prices are in effect, food or other goods or services included in a promotion, brands and generic categories like “domestic beers”, “margaritas” or “a glass of our finest wine”.
  1. The posting and advertising of prices and promotions must be responsible in nature. A licensee is not permitted to advertise or post liquor prices and promotions, inside or outside of the licensed premises, in a manner that may promote immoderate consumption.
     
  2. Patrons may be provided complimentary drinks under certain circumstances. A licensee and/or the employee of a licensee may purchase liquor for a patron at the established listed price for purposes such as recognizing regular patronage, celebrating special events, expressing friendship, or acknowledging poor service. Liquor may not be purchased for patrons as part of a promotion or at regular intervals, or indiscriminately for patrons at the establishment (unless the licensed premises is a casino – see #10 below). For example, a licensee or employee may not purchase liquor to entice patrons to enter the establishment, make further liquor purchases, or advertise or announce the availability of liquor purchases for patrons in any manner.
     
  3. Casinos with a liquor sales licence may provide and advertise complimentary drinks. A liquor sales licensee whose premises are a casino, as defined under Ontario Regulation 719, may offer and advertise complimentary drinks to patrons provided they do so in a manner that does not promote immoderate consumption. In addition, if a licence holder chooses to advertise complimentary drinks, they must prominently display a sign in the areas of the premises where liquor is sold, served or consumed that warns of the dangers of overconsumption of liquor.
     
  4. All-inclusive vacation packages. As outlined in ss.20(8) of Regulation 719, licensees may offer for sale a package including the cost of liquor and one or more of a trip, accommodation, food or other services. This enables premises such as resorts and hotels to package liquor with travel and vacation goods and services, such as offering one price for liquor service with a hotel stay, or food and drink vouchers to be used at the resort’s restaurant or bar. As well, travel related licensees such as airport lounges, boats and railway cars may package liquor with the cost of a ticket.

While these directives provide guidance on certain responsible practices, other practices that generally promote immoderate consumption, including the over-service of patrons and permitting contests, challenges and events requiring or encouraging the consumption of liquor, are not permitted and may lead to administrative sanction.

It is also important to note that liquor sales licensees remain under general obligations not to serve intoxicated individuals and/or permit drunkenness in their establishments and must continue to operate in accordance with the other provisions of the Liquor Advertising Guidelines for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers, as well as all other applicable regulations and laws.

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