It might be April Fool’s Day today, but this announcement was no joke – more Canadians may soon be seeing wine and beer sold in grocery stores. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) came out in support of the move, but they want to be clear they don’t want to see unrestricted alcohol sales alongside your grocery purchases.
In 2011, Manitoba launched a ‘store within a store’ concept for alcohol sales that’s soon to launch in British Columbia, and that’s the model MADD supports. The pilot program, known as Liquor Market Express, has four locations in Safeway and Sobeys grocery stores and they sell only the most popular beer and wine brands. The hours are restricted and the cashiers are trained to recognize potential under age drinkers.
For groups like MADD and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the biggest concerns about beer and wine sales in Ontario grocery stores comes down to regulation. Will the cashiers selling the products be trained to avoid selling to minors under the age of 19, and will the hours for the Liquor Mart Express be kept separate from the grocery store hours?
These are legitimate concerns, especially when you consider a few facts: drunk driving crashes are the number one cause of youth between the ages of 16 to 25, and alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both is a factor in 55% of those crashes.
The bulk of drunk driving crashes happen during the hours of 11 pm and 4 am, and because most grocery stores stay open to midnight or operate for 24 hours, long past when other liquor stores are closed, the worry is that people will have increased access to alcohol.
Will Ontario get beer and wine in their grocery stores? If they do, the privilege may come at a price, and citizens of the province may also soon seen increased restrictions along with their liquor.