Privatizing alcohol: Other provinces see higher prices for lower revenue

There are a few provinces that allowing the sale of alcohol in corner stores. Alberta has had private liquor sales since 1993. Neighbouring British Columbia dipped its legislative toe in the privatization pool and now maintains a system of both public and private stores. By the way, a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think-tank, finds that Alberta’s private liquor stores are generally more expensive than neighbouring public outlets and provide less money for the public coffers. But Industry insiders in Alberta point out that a privatized system allows for big sales and wide variety. According to Don McConkey, managing director of Co-op Wines and Spirits in Alberta, he notes the shops sell a 750ml bottle of Crown Royal for $30.29 regularly, but for $23.99 when it ‘s on sale. In comparision, the LCBO regular price for the same bottle is $27.95. But the authors of the study point at high prices, high consumption and low revenue for the government. At the heart of this problem — the privatization of retail liquor stores — is you’ve got an incompatibility of incentives between a public health perspective and the private retailers though.

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