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Quebec gets B-minus on 2019 Raise the Bar report card from Restaurants Canada

Many reasons for restaurateurs to raise a glass, but province’s wholesale liquor pricing still needs work

/EIN News/ -- QUEBEC CITY, Sept. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the third time since 2015, Restaurants Canada has taken stock of liquor policies impacting foodservice and hospitality businesses from coast to coast in its biennial Raise the Bar report.

Once again, Quebec has received a B-minus, hanging onto its place among the top of the class but still with room to grow. The report outlines the reasons for this grade and provides a path forward for the province to achieve an A by creating the country’s friendliest conditions for licensed establishments.

“Quebec is slowly making it easier to run a bar or licensed restaurant, building on momentum that was recognized on our last report card,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec. “But a number of new measures that are expected to cut red tape for licensed establishments still need to be implemented. Insufficient progress on liquor pricing also continues to hold the province back from receiving an even higher grade.”

Full 2019 Raise the Bar report card rankings:

Grade Province
B Alberta
B- Nova Scotia
B- Prince Edward Island
B- Quebec
C British Columbia
C Manitoba
C- Ontario
C- Saskatchewan
D- New Brunswick
D- Newfoundland & Labrador

Reasons to raise a glass

The foodservice and hospitality industry celebrated the adoption of Bill 170 in 2018, which brought about a number of liquor policy improvements:

  • Parents can remain on patios with their children until 10 p.m. (instead of 8 p.m.);
  • Customers may linger at licensed establishments until 4 a.m. (although they still cannot be served alcohol past 3 a.m.); and
  • Batches of mixed drinks can now be prepared in advance, as long as they are made on the same day they will be sold.

Restaurants Canada was especially pleased to see the new bill pave the way toward eliminating a longstanding irritant for bars and restaurants: Bottles, cans and other alcohol containers will no longer require a physical stamp to be sold in licensed establishments as of July 1, 2020.

Unfinished business

Restaurateurs are still eagerly awaiting the introduction of regulations that will remove:

  • Outdated advertising and promotion rules for beverage alcohol;
  • The requirement for restaurant guests to purchase food with alcoholic drinks; and
  • Restrictions against off-site liquor sales for licence holders.

Restaurants Canada looks forward to seeing these changes implemented before its next report card. But to significantly improve its standing, Quebec will need to take a larger step forward on wholesale pricing.

While progress has been made on this front, with monthly promotions on specific offerings from the Société des Alcools du Québec, licensees are still waiting for across-the-board volume discounts on all types of beverage alcohol products, comparable to what they can already get from beer producers.

Survey says…

Compared to two years ago, Quebec’s licensed foodservice operators say liquor policies are:

Better The same Worse
31% 60% 9%

How can Quebec raise the bar for licensed establishments?  

  1. Make wholesale pricing available to all liquor licensees, for all types of beverage alcohol products. Currently only restaurateurs in Alberta and on Prince Edward Island have access to discounted wholesale pricing on wine, spirits and beer.
  2. Implement updated regulations under its newly reformed liquor legislation to cut red tape and reflect changing market conditions. It’s time to update rules that are out of step with modern business practices.
  3. Allow all types of liquor licensees to sell alcohol for off-site consumption. Why should restaurateurs and caterers be restricted from selling alcoholic products to their customers to enjoy off-site?
  4. Maintain the wage differential for tipped workers. A wage differential for tipped workers allows restaurateurs to allocate more towards higher wages for non-gratuity earning kitchen staff, who are typically harder to attract and retain.
  5. Reduce excessive markups on beverage alcohol products. The amount of tax collected on liquor in Canada is among the highest in the world. Across the country, a cocktail of federal and provincial taxes and fees currently make up: Nearly 50 per cent of the cost of beer; between 65 and 70 per cent of the final price of wine; and up to 80 per cent of the cost of spirits.

Visit to download the full report and join in the online conversation with the hashtag #RaiseTheBar2019.

Media Contact:

David Lefebvre │ 613-325-3298 │

Marlee Wasser │ 416-649-4254 │ 

About Raise the Bar

Raise the Bar is a report produced every two years by Restaurants Canada evaluating the impact of liquor policies on bars and restaurants across the country.

Provincial policies evaluated for the 2019 Raise the Bar report were reviewed within the following four major categories and, after analysis and weighting, each province was given an overall letter grade:

  1. Pricing and Selection
  2. Licensing and Regulation
  3. Customer Sales
  4. Political/Regulatory Activity

All survey results featured in the 2019 Raise the Bar report were compiled from more than 700 responses to an online questionnaire that was emailed to foodservice operators across Canada between June 12 and Aug. 26, 2019.

About Restaurants Canada

Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Canada’s foodservice sector is an $89 billion industry that directly employs 1.2 million workers, is Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serves 22 million customers across the country every day.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Primary Logo

Raise the Bar 2019: Report card on provincial liquor policies for bars and restaurants

Raise the Bar is a report produced every two years by Restaurants Canada, evaluating the impact of liquor policies on bars and restaurants across the country.
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