Ontario poll shows huge support for beer, wine in supermarkets
By: Robert Benzie Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, Published on Mon Mar 30 2015
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plan to allow beer and wine sales in grocery stores is being cheered by Ontarians, a new poll suggests.
The Forum Research survey found 64 per cent approve of the provincial government’s looming decision to expand such retailing to supermarkets.
Only 30 per cent disapproved of beer and wine being sold by grocers and 6 per cent did not know.
“It’s a winner,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said Monday.
Bozinoff noted support for the proposal transcends political affiliation with 71 per cent of Liberals approving compared to 62 per cent of Progressive Conservatives, 60 per cent of New Democrats, and 65 per cent of Greens.
“Everybody kind of likes it — you don’t get numbers . . . higher than this where everyone agrees with something like this,” he said.
Using interactive voice-response phone calls, Forum surveyed 881 people across Ontario from last Monday to Wednesday with results considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The pollster also asked where Ontarians would buy their beer after the changes are made official in Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s upcoming budget.
Almost one-third — 31 per cent — said they would get their suds at the supermarket compared to 20 per cent at the privately owned Beer Store and 18 per cent at the government-run Liquor Control Board of Ontario with 29 per cent saying they wouldn’t shop at any one place most often.
In terms of wine, 41 per cent of respondents said they would shop at the LCBO, 24 per cent said the supermarket, 10 per cent at a privately owned Wine Rack or winery store, and 22 per cent at no one particular place.
Just two per cent didn’t know where they would buy their beer or wine.
As first revealed by the Star, Wynne’s government is soon expected to announce that beer and wine sales will initially be permitted in about 300 of Ontario’s 1,500 supermarkets.
The Liberals will auction off the licences to sell beer and wine with no one supermarket chain allowed to buy more than 25 per cent of them.
Wynne is moving forward with the liberalizing of laws to give consumers more convenience, and expand market access for Ontario’s craft brewers and VQA wineries.
It would better align the province’s archaic retailing laws with those of neighbouring Quebec.
At the same time, the Grits hope it will help bring additional money to the treasury as they scramble to eliminate a $12.5 billion budget deficit.
Currently, beer can only be purchased at 651 LCBO stores, 212 LCBO agency shops in rural Ontario, 448 Beer Store outlets, and directly from microbreweries.
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