Learn how governments can establish minimum prices for standard servings of alcohol

Minimum pricing on alcohol in cities

Issue
Use pricing policies such as excise tax increases on alcoholic beverages1,2,3,4

Action
Establish minimum pricing per standard drink across all alcoholic beverages indexed to inflation, and maintain average prices at or above the consumer price index3,4

Degree of adoption in 31 Canadian municipalities
Low

Current actions in Canada
Only two of 31 local governments in Canada have enacted pricing policies, which may reflect the lack of provincial pricing policies in British Columbia:

  • Vancouver’s License Bylaw requires licensed liquor establishments to refrain from selling, or offering for sale, an alcoholic beverage at a retail price of less than $3 per standard serving, inclusive of taxes, being:
    • 1 fluid ounce of spirits having an alcoholic content of 17 per cent or more, served on its own or in a mixed beverage
    • 5 fluid ounces of wine having an alcoholic content of 1.5 per cent or more
    • 20 fluid ounces of beer, cider or a cooler, having an alcoholic content of 1.5 per cent or more
    • Calculate pro rata the minimum price of an alcoholic beverage containing a fraction of one standard serving
  • Victoria’s Business License Bylaw prohibits licensed establishments from selling, or offering for sale, alcoholic beverages at a retail price of less than $3 per standard serving, inclusive of taxes. The minimum price of an alcoholic beverage containing a fraction of one standard serving is to be calculated pro rata. A standard serving is:
    • 1 fluid ounce of spirits having an alcoholic content of 17 per cent or more, served on its own or in a mixed beverage
    • 5 fluid ounces of wine having an alcoholic content of 1.5 per cent or more
    • 12 fluid ounces of beer, cider or a cooler, having an alcoholic content of 1.5 per cent or more

Local policy toolsa,b

  • Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP)
  • Business license bylaws

Examples of local actiona,b
Strengthen MAPs or introduce other bylaws to impose minimum pricing laws, mark-ups and discounting violations.

Minimum pricing on alcohol in provinces and territories

Issue
Use pricing policies such as excise tax increases on alcoholic beverages1,2,3,4

Action
Establish minimum pricing per standard drink across all alcoholic beverages indexed to inflation, and maintain average prices at or above the consumer price index3,4

Degree of adoption in Canada
Medium

Current actions in Canada
There is some adoption of evidence-informed policy action related to minimum pricing across Canada. Nearly all provinces (and none of the territories) have minimum pricing policies in place for the purchase of alcohol in retail and licensed establishments, with over half implementing pricing per standard drink. Only a few provinces, like Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec for beer only, review minimum prices on an annual basis and index those prices to inflation. No provinces or territories price alcohol above the consumer price index.

All provinces except Québec have minimum prices set for the sale and service of alcohol in licensed establishments.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have minimum pricing per standard drink in place, and in many cases, minimum prices vary by type of alcohol served. New Brunswick sets minimum pricing per ounce of alcohol served, which varies by type. Alberta sets minimum price per can, bottle and ounce of beer only.

All provinces except Alberta have minimum prices set for the sale of alcohol in retail establishments. Quebec only has minimum prices set for sale of beer at grocery stores.

In Nova Scotia, Quebec for beer only, Ontario and Manitoba, minimum prices are reviewed annually and indexed to inflation.