Restaurants Canada is giving the government of Saskatchewan a passing grade when it comes to policy support for the hospitality sector, but the province is far from top of the class.
The industry advocate has released its latest “Raise the Bar” report card, which grades provinces annually, based on “how industry-friendly their liquor policy landscape is for bars and restaurants.” It has scored Saskatchewan with a C-.
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“Saskatchewan needs to take decisive action to provide licensed establishments with more meaningful cost relief and move ahead with a comprehensive review of liquor policies, as was previously promised by the government,” said Western Canada government relations director Jennifer Henshaw.
“Restaurants Canada is also calling on the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) to improve communications with the province’s foodservice industry as struggling bars and restaurants continue to work towards recovery.”
According to Hinshaw, Restaurants Canada estimates 29 per cent of Canadian restaurants are operating at a loss, and another 33 per cent are barely breaking even.
As demand recovers, the organization has outlined a number of measures it says the province could implement to help business owners save money.
- Make wholesale pricing available to all liquor licensees, for all types of beverage alcohol products;
- Continue to cut red tape and reduce costs for licensed establishments;
- Introduce a liquor server wage; and
- Continue efforts to improve the process for ordering non-stocked products.
“Bars and restaurants are major re-sellers of liquor and it’s one of their major line items,” Henshaw said.
“It really is unfair that some licensees who have off-sale endorsements, prior to 2016, which is when that policy dates back to, receive full wholesale pricing when the vast majority of licensees either have to pay a full retail price from SLGA or negotiate those discounts that are higher than wholesale prices.”
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The government of British Columbia introduced permanent wholesale liquor pricing for the hospitality industry last year after first announcing the policy change as a pandemic response measure.
In a statement, an SLGA spokesperson said “SLGA continues to review liquor policies on an ongoing basis and recently implemented a number of changes from a review in 2021.”
“Significant changes were made to Saskatchewan’s liquor retail model in 2016 that allowed restaurants and other commercial permittees to purchase their product from any of the approximately 700 liquor retailers across the province. Previously, restaurants could only purchase products from 76 SLGA liquor stores. This change provides restaurants with more choice and allows them to negotiate prices with retailers.”
“The concept of wholesale pricing is something that Restaurants Canada has been requesting for many years and they continue to share those thoughts with government. Wholesale pricing applies to liquor retailers who sell for off-site consumption, not food primary businesses with alcohol as an on-table service. Saskatchewan’s approach to wholesale pricing is consistent with most jurisdictions.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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