A month after introducing happy hour in B.C., the provincial government has updated minimum prices on certain alcoholic beverages. In an announcement today (July 25), John Yap, who is the parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform, stated that new pricing better reflects customer expectations.
“The B.C. Liquor Policy Review has been centred on listening to the views of British Columbians and industry stakeholders, and best aligning any changes we make with their views,” Yap said. “We took action to find a fair compromise that still upholds B.C.’s high standards for health and safety.”
Happy hour regulations now include a new category for draught beer and cider servings that are 50 ounces and over, which refers to beverages served in standard pitchers. The minimum price for pitchers will now be set at $0.20 per ounce, which equates to $12 for a pitcher of beer or cider. The original happy hour pricing required B.C. bars and restaurants to set pitcher prices at a minimum of $15.
“This is a baby step towards a more reasonable minimum price but it’s baffling that after all their talk about setting a minimum price for your own good they then decide to complicate matters even further,” Adam Chatburn, president of the Campaign for Real Ale Society of B.C., said in a statement posted to the CAMRA Vancouver website today (July 25).
“This change could even be seen to encourage over-drinking as the working drinkers of BC seek to get their money’s worth and order more for less," Chatburn added. "I can’t call this an all-out victory—but I will call it a partial win."
Servings of draught beer and cider under 50 ounces, which includes 12-ounce sleeves and 20-ounce pints, will continue to be priced at $0.25 per ounce. This works out to be a minimum pricing of $3 for a 12-ounce sleeve of beer or cider, and $5 for a 20-ounce pint.
Packaged beer, ciders, and coolers is also set at $0.25 per ounce, which means that restaurants and bars are required to charge at least $3 for a 341-millilitre bottle or 355-millilitre can.
No changes were made to pricing surrounding wines or spirits. Those beverages require a minimum pricing of $3.