Not all happy with B.C. happy hour

"Happy hour" discounts for alcoholic drinks impose new minimum drink prices that force some outlets to raise their prices

Minimum price for a 12-ounce sleeve of draft beer or cider is $3

The B.C. government has begun allowing “happy hour” discounts for alcoholic drinks, imposing minimum drink prices that force some outlets to raise their prices.

Effective this week, the minimum price for draft beer or cider in B.C. is 25 cents per fluid ounce, which puts a 12-ounce sleeve at $3, a 20-ounce pint at $5 and a 60-ounce jug at $15. Using a one-ounce minimum, the lowest permitted price for any alcoholic drink is $3.

The release of the regulations Friday was greeted with protests from some pubs that were offering drink specials below that price.

The regulations also give licensed restaurants the ability to serve drinks without a food order, although their licence still requires them to offer a full food menu.

The B.C. government’s liquor policy review also levels the field between pubs and restaurants by allowing families with children into pubs at mealtimes.

The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association issued a statement reminding its members that the new rules also allow customers to carry a drink from a lounge to an adjoining restaurant. Licensees are also allowed to transfer small amounts of stock from one to the other if they run out of a particular product.

In a policy directive to industry associations, local governments and police agencies, the government’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch says the lower price may be applied selectively for “ladies night” specials or “team night” for players in uniform.

Minimum prices do not apply to catered events, or special occasion licences.


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