Alberta gets top marks for restaurant-friendly alcohol policies: report

Restaurants Canada report suggests Alberta reintroduce booze server pay, cut costs and continue ‘cutting red tape’

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Alberta is the most restaurant-friendly province in Canada when it comes to alcohol policies, according to a new report from an industry lobby group.

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New Raise the bar report card of Restaurants Canada gives the Alberta government a B-plus rating for restaurant friendliness in its alcohol policies, the highest rating in the entire country. It’s a slight improvement over the B it got in the last 2019 report, something the organization’s vice president for Western Canada attributes to Alberta’s quick adaptation of policy during COVID and the reduction of “bureaucracy ” for the industry.

“I think certainly during COVID, they were very quick to offer liquor with takeout and delivery, all sorts of other things that helped us,” said Mark von Schellwitz, calling the province a “role model in alcoholic beverage policy.” ”.

“They have also done a lot at AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission) to continue to cut red tape, streamline it and have been a very good partner to work with as an industry association and on behalf of our members.”

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However, there are a few things that prevent the organization from giving the province an A. Restaurants Canada suggests that Alberta reintroduce a booze server wage, lower alcohol costs for small businesses, and continue to push back against regulations around authorized establishments. Von Schellwitz said a lower starting wage for service workers who earn a good portion of their paycheck through tips would allow restaurants to free up some labor money for workers who don’t earn tips.

“It allows them to pay those people more and it also allows them to provide more hours and better service to their customers,” he said.

Von Schellwitz added that Alberta is behind other provinces in improving restaurant commissions for VLT, something Saskatchewan did just a few months ago.

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“Alberta has cut more than a third of its total provincial regulatory requirements since 2019,” Premier Jason Kenney said. “We are committed to reducing red tape for restaurants and bars in the province, and once we remove it, we will prevent new red tape from appearing again.”

While many may think the end of pandemic restrictions marked an immediate “back to normal” for restaurants, von Schellwitz said many still face difficulties. He urged governments across the country to take a “do no harm” approach and not implement any new policies that would increase costs for the “still very fragile” industry.

“It’s probably going to take a good year for the industry to recover from the pandemic, given the additional debt they have. There are fears of inflation right now, fears of recession,” he said. “The industry is still struggling to recover from the pandemic.”

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