by Stephen Dafoe
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising a glass to the Government of Alberta and the province’s municipalities who loosened red tape on alcohol sales and patio regulations. CFIB, in the closing days of its Red Tape Awareness Week, awarded its annual Golden Scissors award for red tape reduction to governments that allowed businesses to sell alcohol with delivery and takeout and expand outdoor patio spaces. Alberta and Ontario allowed mixed drinks to be sold in sealed containers during the pandemic.
“Within days of Alberta imposing the first COVID-19 business restrictions in March 2020 Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) allowed restaurants to sell liquor through takeout and curbside pickup,” said Keyli Kosiorek, CFIB Senior Policy Analyst. “On the municipal front, municipalities like Calgary and Edmonton made it easier for restaurants, cafes, and retail to expand their patios by removing fees and expediated the approval processes. These are great examples of how cutting red tape can make a huge difference to struggling small businesses.”
Last year, AGLC received CFIB’s paperweight award for making craft brewers send their beer to AGLC’s warehouse before their product could be sold in stores in their own area. Under that system, a brewer in Medicine Hat would have to ship their beer to the AGLC central warehouse in St. Albert to be shipped back to stores in Medicine Hat and elsewhere. AGLC had a policy change over the past year that now allows microbreweries to use any AGLC approved warehouse to distribute their products, not just the central warehouses near Edmonton. Additionally, microbreweries can use contracted manufacturers to distribute products on their behalf.
CFIB also praised municipalities that streamlined approval process for retail, restaurants, and cafes to expand patio space and waive permit fees. Winnipeg eliminated temporary patio permits completely. Victoria validated all temporary patios without fees or permits automatically.
With restaurants and bars closed multiple times over the past year, CFIB says restaurants could face a “grueling 8 years of recovery” to resume business as it was. They are encouraging government to make permitting changes permanent so restaurants can have an additional revenue source even after the pandemic.