A number of significant changes to regulations under Ontario's Liquor Licence Act took effect last week, including when and how restaurants, bars, and golf courses can sell alcohol. Liquor sales licensees and manufacturers are officially permitted to sell and serve alcohol earlier than ever, every day of the week. Previously, alcohol couldn't be sold or served before 11:00 AM. On May 6th, 2019, alcohol regulations were modernized and Ontario bars can now serve alcohol at 9:00 AM.
Since the Government of Ontario approved the changes to regulations under the Liquor Licence Act and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario amended its policies, consumers have reportedly directly benefitted from "enhanced choice and convenience."
The Government of Ontario also claims that the new changes have reduced the administrative burden on businesses, and have offered increased flexibility for organizations involved in the sale, service, and consumption of alcohol.
An info bulletin posted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario on May 6th states, "This change brings consistency to the permissible hours for the sale and service of alcohol across Ontario and provides businesses more flexibility in determining operational hours that meet their individual business needs."
In the past, bars have been able to open up and serve alcohol earlier in the morning for special occasions, such as sporting events.
Among the other changes is the new regulation that enables manufacturers to serve any serving size of alcohol they desire, a stark contrast from the previous rule that prescribed certain quantities in which wine, beer, or spirits were permitted to be served.
The restriction on the use of specific advertising terms to describe alcohol pricing and promotions has been lifted. Previously, marketing guidelines prohibited the use of the terms "Happy Hour" and "Cheap Drinks".
Happy Hour was eliminated from Ontario back in 1984, after concerns surfaced from the public about drinking and driving. Consumer Affairs Minister Robert Elgie explained that "no price variation can be permitted on beverage alcohol."
He described the effect of happy hour as "The perception of it ... and I think it was the reality was that on the way home, you were being enticed to have a drink and then drive on."