New Happy Hour Laws Not So Pleasant, Local Advocacy Group Finds
CAMRA BC Sends Letter to Policy Makers Following Happy Hour Announcement
(Vancouver—July 2) In the wake of a policy directive released by the provincial government on June 20th that revealed happy hour would finally be coming to restaurants and bars across British Columbia, beer lovers are now finding themselves a little more than shortchanged. Despite the growing popularity of craft beer in British Columbia, many consumers were shocked to discover that a pint of beer will now be available for no less than $5.00—before tax and tip, that is. The Campaign for Real Ale Society of BC (CAMRA BC), a local consumer advocacy group, is asking consumers to speak up against this drastic and arbitrary price increase.
The group sent a letter on Friday, June 27 explaining the impact the Liberal government’s new minimum pricing for alcoholic beverages will have on the service industry and its consumers, as well as its relation to their FUSS, or Fess Up to Serving Sizes, campaign. Addressed to Attorney General Suzanne Anton, Parliamentary Secretary John Yap, LCLB General Manager Douglas Scott, NDP Alcohol Portfolio Critic Shane Simpson and Premier Christy Clark, the letter is a reminder that while consumers in the larger metropolitan areas of the province may be used to high liquor prices while enjoying a night out, it will come as a shock to many of the province’s smaller communities.
“This policy directive will not affect the wallets of most Vancouverites or Victorians who are already used to paying exorbitantly high prices while enjoying a drink on a patio or dinner at a restaurant, but these increases, which are effective immediately, will be a shock to consumers and small business owners throughout the rest of the province,” says CAMRA BC Advocacy Committee Representative and Powell River Branch President, Paddy Treavor.
“For many independent restaurants and pubs, this will mean raising the price of their products whether they want to or not. Doing so will particularly affect those in smaller communities, whose pricing has stayed lower while in recent years the price of a pint in Vancouver and Victoria has been steadily on the rise.”
The issue extends beyond just craft beer, however. Effective immediately, the new minimum price for all draft and bottled beer purchased at any restaurant, pub, or bar across British Columbia is 25 cents per ounce, excluding tax and tip. Whether it’s Molson Canadian or your favourite local craft brew, this means business owners can’t charge less than $5 for a pint (20 oz), or $15 for a pitcher (60 oz). BC now has the highest minimum price for beer of any province in the country, well ahead of Manitoba, Ontario, and Alberta, whose minimum beer prices are 18, 16.7, and 16 cents per ounce, respectively.
“The terms ‘sleeve’ and ‘pint’ have become ambiguous in today’s service industry, the former ranging anywhere from 12 to 16 ounces and the latter from 16 to 20. This highlights the importance of our FUSS, or Fess Up to Serving Sizes, campaign, which asks the LCLB to enforce their own legislation that all requires restaurants and bars to publish the volume of every drink they serve so consumers know exactly how much liquid is in each serving. Now that BC has the highest minimum pricing for beer of any province in the country, it is more important than ever to let consumers know exactly what they are paying for,” insists Adam Chatburn, President of the CAMRA BC Vancouver Branch.
“If the LCLB insists on mandating minimum drink pricing, consumer awareness of serving volumes is imperative to ensuring not only public safety but also that restaurants and bars are not manipulating the price to their advantage. This legislation exists with good reason and enforcing it is imperative to maintaining public safety while helping prevent consumer fraud.”
CAMRA BC is urging concerned consumers to write, email and even tweet to their local MLA and express their displeasure with the minimum pricing regulations as well as the ongoing practice of being served undefined drink sizes. “We have been told that law enforcement has bigger things to worry about, but ignoring laws designed to prevent bars from misleading, and frankly overcharging, consumers while risking public health and safety is a very serious issue if you ask me,” Chatburn concludes.
You can follow the un-Happy Hour campaign as it develops by using the #unhappyhour and #FUSS hashtags. You can learn more about CAMRA BC’s stance on Happy Hour and FUSS here and here, respectively. For other CAMRA BC initiatives and how to get involved visit www.camrabc.ca.
ABOUT CAMRA BC
The Campaign for Real Ale Society of British Columbia was formed in 1985 over a pint at the Rowing Club in Stanley Park and has supported the responsible evolution of craft beer in British Columbia ever since. As the province’s only consumer advocacy group for craft beer and financed wholly by membership dues, CAMRA BC is a 100% volunteer-run and independent organization that supports consumer choice through policy reform that reflects the values of education, creating craft beer awareness and supporting home brewing initiatives.
For media inquiries and interview opportunities please contact CAMRA BC’s Communications Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 36082
Esquimalt, B.C. V9A 7J5
camrabc.ca – @CAMRABC