May 6, 2019

The Government of Ontario has recently approved a number of changes to regulations under the Liquor Licence Act. In addition, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is amending some of its policies. Collectively, these reforms are intended to enhance consumer choice and convenience, reduce administrative burden on businesses, and provide additional flexibility for those involved in the sale, service and consumption of alcohol.

These reforms impact a number of parties regulated by the AGCO, including manufacturers, liquor sales licensees, and Special Occasion Permit (SOP) holders.

The following changes will take effect on May 6, 2019:

ENHANCING CONSUMER CHOICE AND CONVENIENCE

  1. Changes to permitted hours of sale and service

    Liquor sales licensees (e.g. bars, restaurants and golf courses) and manufacturers with a Limited Liquor Sales Licence (“By the Glass”) are now permitted to sell and serve alcohol starting at 9:00 a.m. every day of the week. In addition, SOP events can also now begin at 9:00 a.m. Previously, licensees and permit holders were only permitted to begin selling and serving alcohol at 11:00 a.m. 

    This change brings consistency to the permissible hours for the sale and service of alcohol across Ontario and provides businesses more flexibility in determining operational hours that meet their individual business needs.

PROVIDING ADDITIONAL FLEXIBILITY FOR LICENSEES AND MANUFACTURERS

  1. Removal of prescribed quantities of alcohol that can be offered under a “By the Glass” Licence

    Manufacturers who hold a Limited Liquor Sales Licence (“By the Glass”) will now be able to serve any serving size they desire.Previously, manufacturers with a By the Glass licence were permitted to sell and serve wine, beer or spirits to patrons only in prescribed quantities.

    This change will provide manufacturers with more flexibility to promote their products and to enhance the tourist experience at their manufacturing sites.

  2. Happy Hour Advertising Now Permitted

    The AGCO has amended the Liquor Advertising Guidelines for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers (the Advertising Guidelines) to remove the restriction on the use of specific terms to describe pricing and promotions.  Previously, the Advertising Guidelines prohibited the use of the terms “Happy Hour” and “Cheap Drinks”.

    While licensees must continue to ensure that the posting and advertising of prices and promotions is responsible in nature and does not promote immoderate consumption, they will now have more flexibility to decide how to comply with these requirements in a manner that meets their individual business needs.

REDUCING BURDEN AND INCREASING FLEXIBILITY FOR SPECIAL OCCASION PERMIT HOLDERS

  1. Change to Partition Requirements for SOP holders

    The partition requirements for SOP holders have been removed and permit holders will now have greater flexibility for determining the appropriate boundaries of the area under the permit.Permit holders must continue to ensure that the permitted area is readily distinguishable from adjacent premises to which the permit does not apply.

    Previously, the area had to be defined by a 0.9 metre partition to identify the boundaries of the permit area. Removing the requirement for a partition will provide permit holders with the flexibility to determine how best to meet their responsibilities while continuing to ensure public safety for the circumstances of their particular event.

  2. Removal of Food Requirement at SOP events
    Ontario Regulation 389/91 has been amended to remove the requirement for permit holders to have a sufficient supply of food to serve persons attending the SOP event. Permit holders must continue to meet all existing requirements, including ensuring that patrons are not intoxicated or disorderly and that immoderate consumption is not promoted at the event.

While this Information Bulletin highlights specific details associated with many of the regulatory changes made, licence, authorization and permit holders should review the amendments to ensure that they are in compliance with all legislative and regulatory requirements. Links to updated electronic versions of the Liquor Licence Act and its regulations are available on our Acts and Regulations page.

For more information contact:

AGCO Customer Service
Telephone: 416-326-8700
Toll free in Ontario: 1-800-522-2876
Or via the iAGCO online portal

Line of Business: 
Number: 
56
Document number: 
56