A flooded-out rail line won’t prevent Churchill from getting regular supplies of beer, wine and liquor — and it will be sold at the same price as in Winnipeg.
A law passed in 1923 requires Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries to provide and sell its products at the same price everywhere in Manitoba, even if it means rolling the cost of shipping by air into the Crown corporation’s bottom line, spokeswoman Andrea Kowal said Friday.
The only thing that would get in the way of shipping booze to Churchill by air is if it is bumped for more important cargo, Kowal said. "We are not taking space on the plane needed for critical products. If someone needs space for bread or milk, our products stay on the tarmac."
Uniform pricing is in the act governing liquor and lotteries. The price is set by the overall cost of delivery across the province.
"We’re flying it out of Thompson, a tweak to our supply chain," Kowal said. "The price of a bottle of beer is the same in Gillam as in Morris or Winnipeg. It’s been that way since 1923. Regardless (of) whether the rail line is broken, we adjust our logistics. Things happen all the time that affect our supply chain."
It costs extra to get supplies to various outlets across the province during floods and blockades, she said.
"Sometimes, it’s down. (Lower) fuel costs would be an example."
The irony wasn’t lost Friday on New Democrat MLA Tom Lindsey, who represents the northern riding of Flin Flon. He again called on the provincial government to provide immediate subsidies to fly food and fuel into Churchill, as the community’s rail connection is expected to be out of service indefinitely.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries "is subsidizing the extra cost of shipping alcohol to Churchill by air, but the province has so far refused to subsidize the extra cost of shipping milk and other critical food supplies," Lindsey said.
"While we understand that subsidizing alcohol helps the tourist industry, local families are facing a crisis with the ballooning cost of food, especially if they have lost their jobs due to the lost tourist season.
"If you can do it for one, you can do it for the other," Lindsey said from his office in Flin Flon. "The provincial government should step up and subsidize transportation, at least on a temporary basis."