Yes, we are going to the polls in June of this year, and it is important to have all convenience stores on the same page with the priorities of our industry when meeting with local MPP’s and new candidates from all parties vying for a seat at Queens ‘Park.
Premier Ford announced four (4) years ago that ‘convenience stores would all be selling beer/wine during his mandate’ and gave the impression to all that this would be sooner then later.
As a result of the MFA agreement signed by the last governing party, this has proven to be more difficult and costly should the government proceed.
We are disappointed because every other type of retailer has been granted the rights to sell beverage alcohol: Grocery Stores, Bars, restaurants, delivery services and even unauthorized bottle shops. But family run convenience stores has not yet been given the same opportunity.
Here are the four (4) speaking points you need to discuss with any/all candidates leading up to this election:
Lottery commissions: Discussions are needed through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) to increase sales margins for convenience store retailers by 2% (from 5% to 7% on electronic (649 Lotto Max) and from 8% to 10% on scratch/instant tickets). Lottery commissions/margin have not increased in over 35 years while costs of business continue to increase. This moderate increase in margin would inject over $30 million into the convenience store channel and
would have a meaningful economic impact for struggling convenience store owners and operators.
Beer/Wine Sales: The government should move quickly to open beverage alcohol retail to include convenience stores as promised four (4) years ago. Hopefully post election, we will see a complete overhaul of the retailing of beverage alcohol coverings distribution, competition and open markets.
Contraband Tobacco (untaxed tobacco): Solutions need to be explored and implemented to correct the illegal shipment and sales of untaxed (contraband tobacco) in Ontario. While convenience stores continue to pay tax to the government for selling tobacco, currently 30-35% of all cigarettes in circulation are illegal. We need the government to take action on contraband tobacco sales.
Smart Age (Digital Age testing): Convenience stores sell more age restricted products than any other retailer and have a higher testing need. We encourage the future government to work with us on ‘Smart Age’ - a digital solution for all using facial biometrics and technology for a universal program designed by the OCSA.