Calgary, January 28, 2021 – It may have taken a global pandemic to get Alberta’s municipal and provincial governments to tackle red tape surrounding alcohol sales and provide innovative changes to patio regulations, but they deserve a pat on the back for helping countless restaurants survive. That is why this year, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is awarding its annual Golden Scissors award for red tape reduction, part of Red Tape Awareness Week™, to governments that allowed businesses to sell alcohol with delivery and takeout and expand outdoor patio spaces.
“Within days of Alberta imposing the first COVID-19 business restrictions in March 2020 Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) allowed restaurants to sell liquor through takeout and curbside pickup,” said Keyli Kosiorek, Senior Policy Analyst. “On the municipal front, municipalities like Calgary and Edmonton made it easier for restaurants, cafes, and retail to expand their patios by removing fees and expediated the approval processes. These are great examples of how cutting red tape can make a huge difference to struggling small businesses.”
Alcohol delivery provides a vital lifeline to Canada’s restaurants
From coast-to-coast provincial governments and alcohol authorities have helped restaurants severely impacted by restrictions deliver alcohol with takeout and curbside pickup. And while most provinces allowed beer and wine with takeout or delivery orders, some went further: Alberta and Ontario also allowed mixed drinks to be sold in sealed containers.
AGLC also made strides this year in reducing its regulatory burden by fixing last year’s CFIB Paperweight Award that made craft brewers send their beer on a road trip before their product could be sold. AGLC’s policy change now allows microbreweries to use any AGLC approved warehouse to distribute their products, not just the central warehouses near Edmonton. Additionally, microbreweries can use contracted manufacturers to distribute products on their behalf.
Municipalities make patio season 2020 bigger than ever
Canada’s mayors and city councillors stepped up when it came to patio expansion. Alberta’s two largest municipalities, Calgary and Edmonton, streamlined the approval process for retail, restaurants, and cafes to expand patio space and waive permit fees. Other municipalities like Winnipeg eliminated the need for a temporary patio permit all together, while Victoria automatically validated all temporary patios without fees or permits. Some municipalities, like Toronto, even made changes to space heating, fire and electrical rules to allow businesses to winterize their patios and extend the season.
Restaurants have a long road to recovery
CFIB research predicts restaurants could face a grueling 8 years of recovery to reach normal revenue levels at the current rate of sales. CFIB encourages governments that have not already done so to make these changes permanent so restaurants can have an additional revenue source even after the pandemic.
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Senior Policy Analyst, CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region, including 10,000 in Alberta. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.