Expanding Alcohol Sales in Ontario: A Comprehensive Overview

Expanding Alcohol Sales in Ontario: A Comprehensive Overview

Ontario is set to experience a significant shift in its alcohol retail landscape this fall, with the introduction of beer, wine, and ready-to-drink cocktails in convenience stores, supermarkets, and gas stations. This move, announced by Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, marks a significant acceleration in the province’s efforts to liberalize alcohol sales, bringing Ontario in line with the choice and convenience enjoyed by other Canadians and people around the world.

Key Milestones in the Alcohol Sales Expansion

Initial Phase: Grocery Store Expansion

  • August 1, 2024: The initial phase will see up to 450 grocery stores across the province, already licensed to sell beer, cider, or wine, expanding their offerings to include ready-to-drink beverages. These stores will also have the option to sell alcohol in “large-pack sizes,” such as 30-packs, providing consumers with more purchasing options.

Convenience Store Inclusion

  • Post-September 5, 2024: The next phase will allow all eligible convenience stores province-wide to start selling beer, cider, wine, and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages. This marks a significant expansion in the availability of alcoholic products outside traditional liquor stores.

Wider Retail Availability

  • After October 31, 2024: The final phase of the expansion will enable all eligible grocery and big-box stores across Ontario to sell beer, cider, wine, and ready-to-drink beverages, including those in large pack sizes. This move is expected to significantly increase the convenience of purchasing alcoholic beverages for Ontario residents.

The Role of The Beer Store

A pivotal aspect of this expansion is the involvement of The Beer Store, which will receive $225 million from the Ontario government. This funding is intended to support The Beer Store in keeping its locations open, facilitating recycling and bottle returns, and aiding the transition to the new alcohol sales model. Contrary to concerns, Premier Ford clarified that this funding aims to support front-line workers at The Beer Store rather than benefiting the companies that own it. The government assures that the allocation of these funds will be audited to ensure proper distribution.

Licensing and Regulation

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will oversee the licensing of retailers participating in this expansion. To maintain a responsible retail environment, the government has announced that stronger penalties will be in place for infractions, with retailers facing license revocation not being eligible to reapply for two years.


Ontario’s decision to expand alcohol sales to include convenience stores, supermarkets, and gas stations represents a significant shift towards offering consumers more choice and convenience. By allowing a wider range of retailers to sell alcoholic beverages, the province aims to treat its residents as responsible adults, providing them with the same purchasing freedoms enjoyed by others across Canada and globally. This expansion, coupled with the strategic support for The Beer Store, underscores Ontario’s commitment to modernizing its alcohol sales framework while ensuring responsible consumption and distribution.

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