Restaurants and bars across B.C. just got a little happier. The provincial government announced today (June 20) that happy hour has come into effect in B.C.’s food and beverage industry, six months after declaring its support for changes to the province’s liquor regulations.
"By allowing establishments to offer happy hours, as long as they adhere to the new minimum prices, consumers will have more chances to save a few dollars throughout the week and continue to support their local businesses,” Suzanne Anton, attorney general and minister of justice, stated in a news release.
Restaurants offering happy hour will be required to set a minimum charge of $3 per drink, including single-ounce cocktails, five-ounce glasses of wine, and 12-ounce sleeves of beer or cider.
"Implementing minimum drink prices is an important part of our commitment to protect health and safety, as we move forward on modernizing B.C.'s liquor laws,” Anton said. “In setting the minimum price, it was important to us that we listened to both industry and health advocates. We have done that and I believe establishing a $3 per drink minimum achieves a good balance for them, and for British Columbians."
For restaurant industry workers, the introduction of happy hour and other reforms to B.C.’s liquor laws is a step in the right direction.
“Happy hours are a welcome change for the food and beverage industry, both creating revenue opportunities at times of the day when business may be slow and providing new occasions for customers around the province to catch up over a discounted drink at one of B.C.'s many restaurants,” Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, stated. “Additional liquor policy updates, like allowing restaurants to serve guests a drink without complicated rules on food consumption, will also reduce confusion for consumers and cut red tape for businesses."
Several other changes to B.C.’s liquor regulations were implemented today. Customers at restaurants with food-primary licenses will no longer be obligated to purchase food with their drinks. Patrons will also be allowed to move freely with a beverage between adjoining licensed areas.
Additionally, restaurants, pubs, and bars with liquor licenses will be permitted to move small amounts of alcohol between similar types of establishments. If a restaurant is experiencing a shortage of a specific product, restaurant works will be allowed to obtain that product from another food and beverage establishment nearby.
"Cutting red tape for licensees and allowing them to transfer liquor between one another is a simple change that will make a big difference for restaurant owners, helping them to ensure they have their customers' favourite products in stock,” Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president for Western Canada of Restaurants Canada, stated. “This change —as well as allowing variable pricing for drink specials throughout the day—will help ensure a strong and vibrant restaurant and foodservice industry in B.C."