The Premier promised to expand alcohol sales to convenience stores back in the 2018 election campaign. Move also includes all participating grocery stores, big box stores. Photo credit: X/Doug Ford
Ontarians will soon be able to pick up a two-four at their local corner store.
On Thursday, the province announced that beginning no later than Jan. 1, 2026, consumers will be able to buy beer, wine, cider, coolers, seltzers, and other ready-to-drink beverages at all participating convenience, grocery, and big box stores across the province.
According to the government, the move represents the largest expansion of consumer choice and convenience since the end of prohibition nearly a century ago.
“We made a promise to the people of Ontario to deliver more choice and convenience,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“Today, we’re delivering on that promise. There’s no reason why Ontario consumers shouldn’t enjoy the same convenient shopping experience as Canadians in every other province when buying some wine for their holiday party or a case of beer or seltzers on their way to the cottage.”
The Ford government previously tried to bring alcohol to convenience stores, passing, however, not enacting legislation to cancel an agreement with the Beer Store that limited the number of retail stores that could be authorized to sell alcohol.
The agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2025. The government will not renew the deal.
The Beer Store and LCBO will continue their retail operations in Ontario. Spirits like vodka, gin, and whisky will continue to be sold at the LCBO.
“Today is one of the best days the Ontario wine industry has had in decades,” said Aaron Dobbin, President and CEO at Niagara-based Wine Growers Ontario.
“The measures announced by the Government of Ontario are the first step in allowing Ontario wineries and grape growers to grow and thrive.”
When the changes come into effect, consumers will be able to purchase any pack size, including 12-packs, 24-packs or even 30-packs.
The province intends to introduce competitive pricing to all private retailers to promote competition and a better deal for consumers. As they do in other provinces, retailers will have the option to set promotional prices consistent with relevant regulations.
LCBO retail stores will maintain consistent pricing across the province to help ensure consumers do not pay more based on where they live, including in rural and northern Ontario.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for Ontario’s convenience stores,” said Anne Kothawala, President and CEO at Convenience Industry Council of Canada.
“Removing antiquated restrictions on the sale of beer, wine, coolers and ready-to-drink beverages will create new revenue streams for our local businesses and meet customer demands in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”
The province said it will provide a range of transitional and time-limited supports to Ontario-based producers to help with the transition to a more open marketplace, including extending dedicated shelf space requirements across all new retailers for craft producers to provide opportunities for small producers to compete.
The province will also immediately enhance the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Wine Support Program beginning in 2024-25 for up to five years to 2028-29 to support the growth and sale of Ontario-grown VQA wines, amongst other initiatives.
The Beer Store has agreed to continue to run the provincewide recycling program for alcoholic beverage containers until at least 2031 as part of a transition period.
No decisions have been made regarding what will happen with the company beyond that date, with the province saying it will consult with retailers and industry stakeholders on the future of recycling and deposit return to ensure this important feature is maintained after 2031.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will continue to manage the licensing of alcohol sales in the province in the new marketplace.
In the months ahead, the provincial government will continue to meet and consult with industry partners, local beverage alcohol producers and other stakeholders on additional areas of the future marketplace including licensing, wholesale pricing and taxes, mark-ups and fees.
The province will also conduct a broader review of taxes and fees on beer, wine and alcoholic beverages with the aim of promoting a more competitive marketplace for Ontario-based producers and consumers.