June 8, 2021

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is confirming its policy on liquor retail store hours to provide ongoing flexibility to customers and retail stores. In addition, the Government of Ontario has amended a regulation that affects grocery stores with a beer and wine authorization.

Liquor Retail Hours of Sale  

To provide ongoing flexibility for customers and retail stores, the AGCO is confirming that the permissible hours of liquor sales in retail stores will remain 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. going forward.

Since March 2020, the AGCO has extended liquor retail hours to 7:00 a.m. several times. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge communities and businesses and many stores continue to offer special early shopping hours to support physical distancing requirements and public health objectives.

These retail hours apply to all authorized grocery stores, Manufacturer’s Retail Stores, LCBO stores (including Convenience Outlets), and Brewers Retail Inc. stores (The Beer Store).

Licensees are reminded that they must continue to follow any public health measures put in place by the Government of Ontario or their municipality.

These retail hours are unrelated to any restrictions on retail hours currently in place as outlined in the Government’s  Reopening Ontario Act.  Details on the current restrictions can be found at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions. For information about how these restrictions apply to businesses regulated by the AGCO, call Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Changes to Grocery Store Shelf Space Requirements

The Government of Ontario has amended Regulation 232/16 under the Liquor Control Act (LCA) to provide for changes to shelf space requirements for wine (excluding cider) sold under a beer and wine authorization.

Effective July 1, 2021, the definition of “small winery” will change to increase the annual worldwide sales threshold from 200,000 litres to 375,000 litres. 

In addition,  

  • From July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, at least 45% of the containers of wine (excluding cider) on display in the store must contain wine that meets the requirements set out in paragraph 2 of section 25(2) of Regulation 232/16.
  • After June 30, 2023, at least 40% of the containers of wine (excluding cider) on display in the store must contain wine that meets the requirements set out in that paragraph. 

Paragraph 2 of subsection 25(2) of Regulation 232/16 under the LCA currently sets out:

At least 50 per cent of the containers of wine (excluding cider) on display in the store must contain wine that is produced using grapes from a single country and in respect of which at least one of the following criteria is satisfied:

  1. The wine is quality assurance wine.
  2. The wine was produced by a small winery.
  3. The country where the grapes were grown produces, in the aggregate, less than 150 million litres of wine annually from grapes grown in that country. 

Currently, holders of a beer and wine authorization must have at least 50% of the containers of wine (excluding cider) on display in the store, contain wine that meets the requirements described above. 

Additional Information

The AGCO remains committed to protecting public safety and ensuring that liquor is sold, served, delivered and consumed in a responsible manner. Licensees must also ensure that any persons involved in the sale or delivery of liquor have completed Smart Serve training.

The AGCO continues to work closely with the Government of Ontario to find ways of supporting Ontarians and the sectors we regulate.

Any conditions on a licence or authorization continue to apply and licensees must continue to meet all other existing requirements in the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) or LCA and regulations.

Please note, while this Information Bulletin highlights specific details associated with a regulatory change, licence and authorization holders are urged to review the specific amendments to ensure that they are in compliance with all legislative and regulatory requirements.

  • Links to electronic versions of the LLA, LCA and its regulations are available on our Acts and Regulations page.
  • Contact AGCO anytime via the iAGCO online portal
  • AGCO Customer Service Representatives are available from Monday to Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm at 416-326-8700 or toll-free in Ontario at 1-800-522-2876
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