The Manitoba government wants to bring liquor laws into the modern era.
Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh, minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act, said today it wants to update the Liquor Control Act to allow brew pubs, Liquor Mart boutiques in grocery stores and the ability to take your own wine to restaurants.
At the same time, Mackintosh said the province will crack down on disorder and underage drinking.
"The goal of this new strategy is to allow our province to be both socially progressive and socially responsible," he said at a news conference. "It encourages economic development and provides Manitobans and visitors with the ability to enjoy social opportunities within a safe environment."
Other proposed changes include:
- Allowing brew pubs with off-sales and sales through the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) Liquor Marts to ensure business viability;
- incentives to help develop microbreweries, wineries and micro-distilleries including reduced product markups and promotional opportunities;
- up to 10 pilot, limited-selection MLCC Liquor Mart boutiques with a focus on Manitoba and Canadian products including up to five locations to be located within urban grocery stores;
- a voluntary "BYO Wine" program for restaurants;
- sales of coolers and ciders at select retail beer vendors;
- development incentives for beverage producer visitor centres including free-standing locations, reduced product markups to the producer and allowing for outdoor advertising to promote these centres;
- expansion of optional service hours to 2 a.m. for socials, charity fundraisers and weddings for consistency with licensed establishments;
- standardized Sunday night hours to 2 a.m. for cabarets and beverage rooms and 2:30 a.m. for beer vendors, unless disallowed by local bylaw;
- the MLCC to authorize exceptions to reflect unique hospitality opportunities that do not fall under the current 11 classes of licence by amending the Food to Liquor Regulation;
- Liquor Marts to sell barware, beverage publications and promotional merchandise for major sport and cultural events; and
- enhanced product information and public interaction through an upgrading of the MLCC website.
Changes targeting safety and well-being:
- hire three new downtown Winnipeg liquor inspectors and establish a new satellite inspections office to be located on Main Street by 2012;
- introduce fines, among the toughest in Canada, for disorderly conduct;
- place more responsibility on bar owners for disorder outside of their premises and property including the immediate vicinity;
- enable liquor inspectors and police to immediately close a licensed premise for up to 12 hours when there is imminent risk to the public;
- set out in law existing mandatory responsible service training for bar owners, operators, bartenders and servers;
- give the Manitoba MLCC the legal mandate to promote responsible alcohol consumption;
- strengthen a fetal alcohol spectrum disorders public awareness campaign;
- require the MLCC to conduct an impact analysis on the use of energy drinks as a mix with alcohol;
- enable Liquor Marts to sell socially responsible products such as 0.5 per cent alcohol and taxi-fare cards; and
- installing portable defibrillators and providing staff training in all 50 liquor marts by early summer.
Changes targeting underage drinking:
- institute a false identification (ID) crackdown, including changes to allowable identification and ID verification scanners;
- prohibit possession of alcohol by a minor, not just consumption, in a licensed premise and at occasional permit events;
- automatically have every act violation involving underage drinking in a licensed premise result in a licensing board hearing;
- register all beer kegs to easily identify the purchaser in situations involving minors;
- have the MLCC phase in a strategy to deal with excessively high alcohol content beverages;
- enhance awareness of Be the Influence - Manitoba's leading-edge campaign for parent engagement and responsibility;
- provide a new school-based awareness and initiatives program through Manitoba Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors;
- facilitate discussion between MADD Canada and school boards to promote dry grad initiatives.
Changes focused on reducing "red tape":
- allow convenient, online social permit applications by 2012;
- provide multi-year liquor licensing;
- legislate pro-rated liquor licence fees;
- streamline the liquor licence application process;
- improve rules to reflect the shift from owner-run premises to franchises and chain outlets;
- amend the advertising regulation to allow exceptions to outdoor advertising rules to accommodate licensee promotional needs; and
- provide an MLCC Internet portal for commercial business partners to streamline business activities.