Open Letter to the Commissioner of Competition
August 13, 2019
Mr. Matthew Boswell
Commissioner of Competition
Competition Bureau of Canada
50 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
Dear Mr. Boswell:
We wish to commend your August 13, 2019 Open Letter to the Ontario Minister of Finance advocating for increased competition in alcohol beverage sales in Ontario Open Letter.
Your letter rightly identifies that “increased competition generally leads to more choice, greater innovation, and lower prices”. However your comments omit a critical component of introducing true competition, choice and convenience into Ontario’s outdated alcohol retail landscape — namely, allowing private licensed alcohol retailers to sell spirits alongside beer and wine.
While the Ford administration has made some progress to modernize Ontario’s anticompetitive alcohol retail environment, the province’s current plans largely leave Canadian spirits out in the cold, while imported beer and wine reap the benefits.
Ontario has fewer spirits outlets per capita than any other province, and spirits are excluded from over 1,000 outlets selling beer and/or wine. None of the 450 additional Ontario grocery stores currently, or soon to be, authorized to sell beer, cider and/or
wine are permitted to sell spirits. This unfair retail advantage will directly and mortally undermine competition in the Ontario market and diminish the projected benefits from expanding beverage alcohol retailing.
Beer, wine and spirits compete for the same consumers, and consumers cannot buy what is not on the shelf. Locking spirits out of Ontario’s planned alcohol retail expansion would cement anti-competitive advantages for beer and wine, fail to deliver choice and
respect for Ontario adults, and jeopardize the significant employment and economic contributions of Ontario’s spirits industry.
Jan H. Westcott
President & CEO, Spirits Canada