N.B. ranks near bottom of pack in annual report on liquor policies

A national industry group representing bar and restaurant owners says its frustrated by outdated liquor policies in New Brunswick.

Restaurants Canada says it's part of the reason the province ranked near the bottom of the pack in its latest report on provincial liquor policies.

"Government inaction is costing our industry, our customers and our economy," said Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada's vice-president for Atlantic Canada.

New Brunswick received a 'D' grade in the group's latest Raise the Bar report card — down from a grade of 'C-' in 2015.

Newfoundland and Labrador was the only other province to rank lower in the report, which which rates each province on the bar- and restaurant-friendliness of their liquor policies, primarily in terms of price, selection, licensing and regulation.

"The government keeps promising to fix these problems, but years later we're still waiting," said Erjavec.

The report calls on the province to overhaul outdated liquor regulations and systems and to allow licensees to order craft beer directly from brewers, instead of through NB Liquor.

It also wants the province to deliver on a promise to introduce wholesale pricing for liquor licensees, who currently pay retail price for beer, wine and spirits.

Erjavec said New Brunswick can quickly move to the top of the class if government delivers on its promises.

"It's a win-win for government to remove unnecessary barriers to growth and innovation," said Erjavec.

"Bars and restaurants invest in local communities, hire local and attract other businesses and tourists."

Alberta earned the top mark, followed by Québec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.