Summer Mystery Shops by Public Health

It is imperative to remind all family run convenience Stores to ensure they have reviewed their policies for selling tobacco, vape and lottery tickets to prevent any failures when it comes to selling these age restricted programs.

All local public health units will be hiring underage mystery shop employees to test c stores on your ability to properly refuse the sale of these products to underage customers.

Don’t be fooled and make sure all your employees are aware that these types of shops can take place at any time with many stores experiencing the 6:00pm – 10:00 pm mystery shop attempts.

Every local public health unit must conduct a minimum of 2 underage shops a year in every community on every store and more are planned should you have a failure in the past two years. We are proud of our record to refuse the sale to minors and this message to remind you to take age testing very seriously.

Feel free to visit: for updates.

Members of the OCSA can train as many employees as possible for free while nonmembers can purchase a training slot for each employee.

Pre-Pay at the Pumps Bill 88

‘Protecting Ontarians by Enhancing Gas Station Safety to Prevent Gas and Dash Act, 2023’ This bill was passed in April 2023 and please find the link to the entire Bill that mandates GTA gas stations to implement Pre-Pay at the pumps to protect our employees and customers from drive offs as well as the business losses family run gas sites are experiencing.

The bill has not yet received royal assent, but we are seeing many gas stations in the GTA, Hamilton, Durham, York and Halton voluntarily implementing this program.

Once passed local retailers may ask their local Municipality to pass the same resolutions and bring Ontario into the same realm as gas station throughout north America where Prepaying at the pump is the business norm.

We encourage retailers throughout Ontario to ease your customers into the Prepay program by signaling the outside pumps or making prepay mandatory after 7:00 pm or dark (whatever comes first).

The advantage to our industry is no more thefts from drive offs, no more business losses due to these theirs, no longer need to continue to ask local police services to attend or do something and ensures that our employees and customers will be safer in the long run.

To alleviate any fears of instore losses, in other jurisdictions (BC and Alberta) have not had any loss of instore business and customers adjusted quickly with the majority agreeing it is a better way to conduct business.

Bottom line it is time to also institute your own prepay program to protect the bottom line of your business.


Contraband Tobacco Remains a Big Issue

With the recent increases in cigarette prices as well as tax issues bestowed upon legal tobacco, we still see the issue of untaxed cigarettes sitting at 30-35 % in Ontario.

Tobacco is a declining category but the best way we can shore up the instore business to constantly reminding our local MPP’s of the issues caused by ignoring this illegal activity in every community.

For the record, this has gone on way too long through successive governments and ministries and we need retailers to speak up and become part of a solution to bring the cigarette smokers back to our stores.

Tobacco is a large part of our everyday business and if a smoker is influenced to buy from an unknow source, then we lose a customer for other incremental high margin sales and impulse products.

Complaining about high prices will not solve the issue but educating your local MPP of your concerns and loss of business is a strong statement and allows you to build a business relationship with your local office.

We need to make a concerted effort together to educate local politicians and engage your local tobacco contacts to assist you in ways of communicating this issue to all customers, media, and politicians on the seriousness of this crime.

Contraband tobacco must be stopped, and it will take the efforts of the retailers, customers, and tobacco industry to remind all of the illegal movement of untaxed cigarettes throughout Ontario.