Quebecers may soon be able to order booze to their home with dinner

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By Luca Caruso-Moro, CTV News Montreal

Ordering-in again? You may soon have the option to add a beer to your cart.

On Wednesday, Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault tabled a bill to allow restaurants with liquor licences to deliver booze with a meal through an intermediary, such as a food courier.

The new delivery rules would only apply to establishments with restaurant licenses, not bars. The Deputy Premier’s office says the new provisions were created with the intention of supporting restaurants during the pandemic, but that they could continue delivering alcohol with meals after people begin dining in again.

Alcohol prices for delivery or take-out can be set by the restaurant and may be different than the same products served in-house.

“[Restaurants] have been asking for these changes for many years,” Guilbault told reporters on Wednesday. “I am expecting that they will be happy.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) voiced their approval of the new rules. François Vincent, the Quebec vice-president for CFIB, said the new rules could help restaurant owners “get through this troubled period,” in a press release following the minister’s announcement.

For restaurants outside of the red zones, a meal will no longer be necessary to serve alcohol, but all catering equipment must be kept functional during the operating hours of their alcohol permit. Outside of these hours, the permit holder can continue serving alcohol to remaining clients, but not to people who enter the restaurant after that time.

BAR OWNERS RESPOND

Not everyone is happy to hear about the proposal.

“It seems that the government forgot about the bar industry,” said Paul Desbaillets, co-owner in Pub Burgundy Lion group and member of the New Association of Bars of Quebec (NABQ). “Give everyone a chance to make some money,” he said.

Desbaillets says that under red zone regulations, which forced bars and brasseries to close, there are very few avenues for bars to make any revenue.

He says many bars are at risk of closing for good if the government doesn’t allow them to sell alcohol. “There are hundreds of locations in jeopardy right now,” he said. “We needed this yesterday. This was needed months ago … for survival.”

The province says it's open to fast-tracking requests from bar owners who want to open a kitchen and get a restaurant licence, and that the Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Authority (RACJ) would collaborate with them.

NEW RULES STILL NEED TO PASS IN PARLIAMENT

The proposed rules will need to be voted in through parliament. Representatives from Guilbault’s office say they hope to get support from the opposition.

The rules are being packaged in Bill 72, which modifies several legislative areas under public security, including The Police Act, and the Act respecting the Quebec correctional system. If passed as-is, the bill would award new decision-making power to the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles and allow provincial police watchdog units to hire their own staff.  

With files from Canadian Press

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