Q: Why are reforms to the liquor licence framework being made?
A: The Government of Ontario has recently approved a number of changes to regulations under the Liquor Licence Act. In addition, the AGCO is amending some of its policies related to advertising. 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.
Q: When do these changes take effect?
A: Unless otherwise indicated, these changes are effective May 6, 2019.
Sale and Service of Alcohol
Q: What are the new hours for the sale and service of alcohol?
A: Hours for the sale and service of alcohol have been extended to 9:00 a.m. (from 11:00 a.m.) for Liquor Sales Licences and Manufacturer’s “By-the-Glass” Limits Sales Licences. In addition, the hours that the Registrar can specify in a Special Occasion Permit during which alcohol may be sold, served and consumed have been extended and are now 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Q: What changes are being made to advertising requirements for alcohol?
A: The AGCO will be amending its Advertising Guidelines for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers to remove the restriction on the use of the terms “Happy Hour” and “Cheap Drinks”.
Q: What has changed for Special Occasion Permit holders?
A: The requirement for a 0.9 metre partition to identify the boundaries of the permit area has been removed. Permit holders must however continue to ensure that the permitted area is readily distinguishable from adjacent premises to which the permit does not apply. In addition, 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 there is no intoxication, disorderly conduct or promotion of immoderate consumption at the event.
Q: Why has the limit on serving sizes for By-the-Glass Licences been removed?
A: Removing the prescriptive serving sizes that manufacturers can sell under a By-the-Glass Licence for wine, cider, beer and spirits, provides more flexibility for manufacturers to promote their products. By-the-Glass licence holders will still be required to adhere to the rules under the Liquor Licence Act, and its regulations, to ensure that they are not promoting immoderate consumption, permitting drunkenness, or providing alcohol to minors.
Q: When will I be able to purchase beer and wine from the corner store?
A: In the April 11, 2019 budget statement, the government repeated its intention to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores, big box stores and more grocery stores. The AGCO will work with the government to implement this change.
Public Consumption of Alcohol
Q: Can I now consume alcohol in all public areas?
A: The government is introducing legislation to allow municipalities to designate public areas, such as parks, for the consumption of alcohol. It is up to municipalities to determine the places that ought to be eligible for designation for public alcohol consumption and to designate such an area if they choose.
Q: What is the AGCO’s role with regard to municipally-designated areas for public consumption?
A: Where a municipality designates an area for public consumption, local police would be responsible for ensuring compliance with the law, including the prevention of underage drinking and public intoxication. The AGCO would not have a regulatory role in enforcement.
Q: What is a Tailgate Event?
A: A tailgate event is a new type of public event for which you can obtain a Special Occasion Permit (SOP). Tailgate events are held outdoors, in connection with and in proximity to a professional, semi-professional or post-secondary sporting event. Permit holders may sell and serve alcohol, and attendees 19 years of age or older, may bring their own liquor (BYOB) for consumption at the event, within the permitted area.
To hold a tailgate event, organizers must be issued a Tailgate Event SOP by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The AGCO will begin accepting online applications on May 6, 2019 via the iAGCO online portal.
For more information, please contact AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876 (toll free in Ontario). Inquiries may also be submitted online at iAGCO.