Early booze at brunch? Not if you're in Ontario
Ryan Flanagan, CTVNews.ca with a report from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2019 2:05PM EST
If you’re in Ontario and want to drink alcohol with your meal out before 11 a.m., you’ll have to do it at home.
Restaurants in the province aren’t allowed to serve alcohol before 11 a.m. – even though beer and liquor stores can start selling their products at 9 a.m.
One Toronto restaurant owner estimates that 75 per cent of her Sunday brunch customers would like to be drinking by 10 a.m.
“I should be able to serve alcohol at the same time that the government can sell it,” Cindy Wilkes of the Brooklyn Tavern told CTV Toronto.
The Ontario government has been loosening restrictions on alcohol sales. Beer sales were opened up to some supermarkets earlier this decade, and the government has more recently expanded the hours in which stores can sell alcohol.
Wilkes says she would like to see a similar relaxing of the rules for restaurants.
“I’m just trying to make a living here and give people what they want,” she said.
Paula Fletcher, a Toronto city councillor, says she wants to see restaurants be able to apply for special occasion permits to cover big brunch days. Toronto has previously allowed early consumption during events such as Olympic hockey games and World Cup soccer matches.
Fletcher would also like to see the province consider allowing restaurants to sell alcohol earlier on a permanent basis.
“People would like to have a glass of wine much earlier in the day than they’re allowed,” she said.
An Abacus Data poll released Tuesday found broad support for liberalization of Ontario’s laws around alcohol sales, including for the recent expansion of store sale hours and for the idea of allowing convenience stores to sell alcohol.
Other provinces have similar rules forcing restaurants to start selling alcohol later in the day than stores, although generally both restaurants and stores are allowed to sell alcohol earlier than is the case in Ontario.
Saskatchewan lets some stores start sales as early as 8 a.m. with restaurants allowed to serve alcohol starting at 9:30 a.m. Quebec starts retail sales at 7 a.m. and restaurant alcohol service at 8 a.m. In Alberta, people are allowed to purchase alcohol from stores and restaurants starting at 10 a.m.