Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli says it's 'premature' to say there could be a $100M penalty for breaking Beer Store deal - 2019-03-29
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli insists it is "premature" to say Queen's Park will be on the hook for $100 million in financial penalties if the government expands beer and wine sales to convenience stores. In his first comments since the Star revealed the potential price tag of breaking a 10-year accord with the Beer Store, Fedeli said Friday that negotiations are only just beginning.
"We are going to be putting beer and wine in corner stores. For anyone to suggest a price tag is awfully premature," he told Moore in the Morning on Newstalk 1010. When pressed by guest host Dave Trafford about cost of breaching the master framework agreement the province signed in 2015, Fedeli bristled. "I'm not suggesting that there is a liability. Any number that anyone has put out there is premature. We're going to negotiate in good faith — certainly not through the media," the treasurer said.
"The issue is Quebec has 8,000 retail stores selling beverage alcohol. In Ontario, we have the lowest density, we have less than 3,000 in place that do that. It's a campaign commitment. People asked for it." In Cambridge, Premier Doug Ford downplayed concerns about taxpayers being slapped with hefty payouts to a "foreign-owned company." "First of all, you're assuming — like the media always assumes — that's going to happen. That's not necessarily the case, because we're in negotiations with the Beer Store," Ford said at in a news conference at a Toyota factory. "I'm a business guy. You put more beer in locations — we have 10,000 convenience stores and probably a couple of thousand retail stores — your sales are going to go up," he said. Under the deal the province inked with the Beer Store — the 450-outlet retailer mostly owned by the parent companies of Labatt, Molson and Sleeman — $100 million was invested in capital improvements.