[UPDATED: June 9, 2017] Ontario residents could soon find the doors to their local liquor store locked up indefinitely. Unionized workers of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) had requested a “no board” report from the Ministry of Labour. That is a report that tells the union that no conciliation board will be appointed – moving them into legal strike position. That was granted, and just this morning, June 9th, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) announced that Ontario liquor stores could be shuttered by strike action as early as June 26th. That is the Monday before the Canada Day long weekend.
The union says that key concerns include working conditions for part-time staff and the fact that government is allowing more beer and wine sales in grocery stores. Negotiations are still ongoing.
If they strike, it doesn’t have to ruin your long weekend barbecues and get-togethers. There are actually plenty of other places to buy booze without hitting a liquor store.
Here’s where you can still buy alcohol in Ontario without the LCBO
The Beer Store
Obviously, the 447 outlets of the Beer Store scattered around the province can you keep you supplied with suds in the even of an LCBO strike. Find a location near you.
The Wine Rack
There 160 Wine Rack shops in neighbourhoods across Ontario selling over 150 different Ontario and international Canadian blended wines. Wine Rack Locations.
The Wine Shop
There are roughly 200 Wine Shop outlets nestled mostly connected to grocery stores across Ontario. Find one close to you.
You can always go to the source. Southern Ontario is home to numerous vineyards and wineries that offer tours, tastings, and, of course, sell their wines. Visit Wine Country Ontario for a list of wineries, and information on the wine region.
Local craft breweries sell their beers on site. Here in Toronto, we have Steam Whistle, Mill Street, and Amsterdam just to name a few of the larger ones. You can find your local brewery – and some of the best beers in the world – over at http://www.ontariocraftbrewers.com/.
As mentioned, it is the fact that some grocery stores are now selling alcohol that sticks in the LCBO workers’ craw. The province has announced plans to allow up to 450 grocery stores to sell beer and 300 to stock wine. However, as of right now there are only about 70 grocery stores selling wine and 60 selling beer. Here’s where they are.
Okay. You can get beer and wine if the LCBO strikes. But what about whisky? What about the hard stuff? Don’t worry. You’re covered.
Of course that is just a personal favourite of mine. Ontario is home to many distilleries making and selling world-class whiskies, rum, vodka and more. You can find a list of products and locations here.
Once you get away from the southern cities, the small grocery and outfitters in the wilderness of northern Ontario also sell alcohol – mostly beer.
And if you run out, you don’t have to drink at home. You can always go out to a bar or restaurant. Meet up with friends for drinks at your local pub. There are plenty of places to wet your whistle without relying on the folks at the LCBO. We’ll keep you posted on the ongoing negotiations with the union and the potential for an actual strike.