Press Releases

Ontario Convenience Stores Association Responds to Ontario Budget; Calls for Comprehensive Plan to Address Illegal Tobacco Market

TORONTO, April 28th, 2017 /CNW/ – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) was disappointed that the recent Ontario budget did not include a comprehensive, holistic solution to the growing threat of illegal tobacco. While the government did announce an increase to the tobacco tax, this increase is just a band aid – while the legal tobacco market will pay it, the increase will do nothing to address the disturbingly high levels of growth seen in the contraband market in recent years.

“Growth in Ontario’s illegal tobacco trade has been enormous, and we fear the situation will only get worse unless action is taken,” said OCSA CEO Dave Bryans.

“This tax hurts Ontario’s convenience stores and will drive more Ontarians into the underground tobacco market. We must do more to address this challenge.”

The OCSA hopes to work with the Ontario government in the near-future so that concrete steps can be taken to tackle this issue directly. In the wake of the budget, more must be done to fight the numerous hazards a growing illegal tobacco trade brings.

The OCSA represents 7,500 convenience store retailers in the province of Ontario. The not-for-profit association is active in advocacy, education, and training for its members, and is engaged in many issues affecting convenience store retailers.

SOURCE The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)
For further information: Luca Bucci, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, 416 413 4738, luca.bucci@hkstrategies.ca


The OCSA Welcomes Hon. Jeff Leal as New Small Business Minister

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Jan. 13, 2017) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) welcomes the government’s announcement today on the appointment of Hon. Jeff Leal as the Minister Responsible for Small Business.
“We interpret the appointment of a dedicated Small Business Minister as an acknowledgment of how important this segment is to Ontario’s economy. With over 9000 convenience stores in the province, our channel makes up an important part of Ontario’s small business community. We trust that with this appointment, small business interests will be better reflected in government policies.” – CEO, Dave Bryans, OCSA
Small businesses make up approximately one-third of Ontario’s GDP and are an important contributor to Ontario’s economy. In fact, businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98% of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario.(1) The convenience store sector alone contributes $18.4 billion to the Ontario economy, and $3.8 billion a year in tax revenues for the provincial government.(2)
“The OCSA is pleased to see the Ontario government, like their Federal counterpart, acknowledge that small businesses deserve their own channel in government. We are optimistic that the new Minister will be open to working constructively with us to address the issues that are hindering growth of our sector,” added Bryans.
ABOUT THE OCSA
OCSA is a not-for-profit provincial association that is entirely funded by its members. Since inception, the association has grown steadily and today its membership includes the majority of major chainstore operators and other key suppliers in the industry. Representing over 6,000 stores located in Ontario, the OCSA is engaged on many issues affecting convenience store retailers, 50% of which are independent family stores. The Mission of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is to represent the economic interests of convenience store retailers in Ontario.
Visit our website www.ontariocstores.ca.
Follow us on Twitter @OntarioCStores.
(1) From “Obstacles and Opportunities: The Importance of Small Business in Ontario, 2016“, Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC).
(2) Based on 2014 numbers


CONVENIENCE STORE RETAILERS WELCOME MEASURES IN BILL 139 TO ADDRESS ILLEGAL TOBACCO

TORONTO, ONTARIO – (Marketwire – November 17th  2015) – Ontario’s convenience store retailers are welcoming a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings) which seeks to address illegal tobacco through new measures for policing agencies and a public education campaign on the dangers of contraband.

“The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) is pleased with measures proposed in the Smoke-Free Schools Act that will increase penalties for those caught with illegal tobacco products” said OCSA president Dave Bryans. “Tax evasion through the purchase of contraband is a serious problem for our small businesses, and we are happy to see MPP Smith is keen to address this issue.”

In addition to increased fines for contraband tobacco offenders, the Smoke-Free Schools Act will also include a public education campaign on the dangers of tobacco consumption, including illegal tobacco. “Educating young people is critical to reducing the youth tobacco consumption rate even further, and we are happy to support this,” said Bryans.

The OCSA has been lobbying the provincial government to support an outright ban on the possession, purchase, and consumption of tobacco by youth. The penalties that would be associated with this would mirror those contained in the Ontario Liquor Control Act. In a public opinion survey conducted in January by the Association, 80% of Ontarians supported a potential ban on tobacco by youth.

“Our retailers are the best at age-testing on restricted products in the province,” said Bryans. “While we understand the instinct to further penalize legal retailers who sell to minors, compliance tests show that convenience stores are often not the source of tobacco for minors. We need to make smoking inaccessible and unappealing for young people entirely, and a ban on the possession, purchase and consumption of tobacco by youth would achieve this.”

The Association will be releasing its new contraband tobacco rates in Ontario at the beginning of December, which will include rates for many high schools across the province. “Contraband rates continue to remain alarmingly high at high-schools and hospitals in the province,” said Bryans. “We look forward to working with any decision-makers who would like to address this illegal activity and curb youth smoking.”

 ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Katlyn Harrison, Consultant, Summa Strategies Canada
613.235.1400
kharrison@summa.ca


CONVENIENCE STORE RETAILERS PLEASED WITH CONTRABAND MEASURES, NO TOBACCO TAX INCREASE

TORONTO, ONTARIO – (Marketwire – April 23rd 2015) – Ontario’s convenience store retailers are applauding the provincial government’s decision to not raise tobacco taxes in Ontario as part of the 2015 provincial budget, as well as new measures for policing agencies to deal with contraband offences.

“The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) is pleased that Finance Minister Charles Sousa is honouring his commitment from the Fall Economic Statement to tackle the underground economy,” said OCSA president Dave Bryans. “We hope this is a recognition from the government on the impact that increasing tobacco taxes has on contraband tobacco trafficking.”

Following a tax hike on tobacco products in the 2014 budget there was an increase in the percentage of contraband tobacco being smoked across the province. “Numbers suggest that illegal tobacco usage rates climbed 1.5% this year, representing 22.5% of cigarettes smoked,” says Bryans.

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings and without age verification checks, to anyone who is willing to buy. The RCMP estimates that over 70 organized crime groups and gangs are affiliated with the illegal tobacco trade. Increased taxes and regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth.

“Another tobacco tax increase would have been devastating for Ontario’s convenience store retailers,” Added Bryans. “It is great to see the province taking a stand against the illegal tobacco trade.”

The 2015 Budget also proposed new measures for enforcement agencies to pursue illegal tobacco offences, including the ability to stop, detain and search a vehicle if there are reasonable and probable grounds that it contains raw leaf tobacco. The OCSA was also pleased to recognize efforts from the Ministry of Finance to increase information sharing and compliance efforts with local Public Health Units.

While the OCSA is pleased with the decision to not raise taxes, the OCSA is asking the Ontario government to reconsider its proposed ban on menthol products, given they are already vastly available on the illegal tobacco market. “Unfortunately the outcome of a menthol ban will not be a reduction in youth smoking rates,” says Bryans. “Our retailers take pride in upholding all provincial smoking laws, and a menthol ban would only unfairly punish retailers while driving sales to the underground economy.”

 

ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Katlyn Harrison, Consultant, Summa Strategies Canada
613.235.1400
kharrison@summa.ca


 

PROPOSED MENTHOL BAN WILL SEND CUSTOMERS TO ILLEGAL MARKET: SURVEY

TORONTO (Marketwired-Tuesday, February 18th, 2015) – A recent survey commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) reveals almost half of Ontario smokers would purchase untaxed, illegal tobacco products if the government were to ban their product of choice. This is causing alarm for retailers who are worried the Ontario government’s proposed menthol tobacco ban will send their customers to the contraband market.

The OCSA commissioned a survey by Abacus Data which found that product bans would not deter consumers from finding their preferred through unlicensed channels. Over 43% of tobacco users said that, if their tobacco product were banned, they would simply find this elsewhere.

“Our retailers have been inundated with complaints from customers who are extremely upset with this government’s inclusion of menthol in the flavour tobacco ban,” says Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). “We expected that customers would be displeased, however the reaction from menthol consumers has been surprising.”

The Making Healthier Choices Act was tabled in November 2014 by the Liberal government. Retailers and consumers are expressing concern primarily over the inclusion of menthol in the flavoured tobacco ban, as other jurisdictions have exempted menthol products in the past. Former Minister of Health and current President of the Treasury Board Deb Matthews previously acknowledged that menthol cigarettes are preferred by adults, and therefore should be exempt from flavour legislation.

“To see it included in this Bill was surprising, given the Government’s previous comments on menthol,” said Bryans. “We ensure tobacco doesn’t end up in the hands of youth, so it is the adult consumers who are actually impacted by this ban.”

While the ban was introduced with the intention of curbing youth tobacco consumption, the Association is highlighting the will of customers to go to the illegal market to obtain these products. Currently, there are 35 brands of menthol tobacco products that are available on the illegal market. It also appears tobacco consumers are open to the idea of purchasing illegal tobacco products, with nearly 70% saying they would consider buying untaxed tobacco products on reserve.

“Two thirds of respondents stated the contraband tobacco was a problem in Ontario,” said Bryans. “Certainly, it would appear this problem will become much worse if a ban on menthol products proceeds.”

Retailers and consumers will be taking action as they launch a campaign against the menthol ban included in Bill 45. For more information, please visit www.nomentholban.ca

ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

Contact Information

Summa Strategies Canada
Lindsay Doyle
ldoyle@summa.ca


 

ONTARIO RETAILERS CONDEMN INCLUSION OF MENTHOL IN FLAVOUR BAN LEGISLATION
“Same government, two inconsistent approaches.”

TORONTO (November 24, 2014-Marketwired) Ontario retailers are deeply disappointed with the Wynne government’s announcement on the inclusion of menthol tobacco in the updated flavour ban legislation, based on misleading menthol stats.

“Just one week after Minister Sousa tabled the Fall Economic Statement and vowed to work towards correcting contraband, the government introduces a ban that will flood the illegal market with new customers,” says Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). “They were aware that menthol currently exists within the contraband market and yet still proceeded with this legislation. More worryingly, to date no concrete announcement on how the government would really tackle the serious contraband issue in Ontario has been made.”

The OCSA initially stood by the Government when the legislation was introduced last November as it excluded menthol and other products they believed were not youth oriented. Minister Matthews, who introduced the legislation, acknowledged herself that menthol cigarettes would be exempted as they are preferred by adults.

“It is one thing to keep tobacco out of the hands of youth, it’s another to take menthol products away from legal, adult customers,” added Bryans. “Given the expansive trafficking network, its low cost and widespread availability, youth will still have access to these products regardless of the ban.”

“There is no debate that we should be working towards zero tobacco consumption among youth,” said Alex Scholten, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA). “But the reality is some of these stats are being used to fix a problem where there’s little to fix. It is taking attention away from how to deal with overall youth tobacco consumption and solutions to solving this problem in particular.”

The menthol ban is yet another setback for Ontario’s 7,000 family run convenience stores, particularly those located in communities within close proximity to smoke shacks on reserve. The Association is worried this latest ban will send adult menthol customers to the underground market, which is already thriving.

“Our small businesses cannot continue to bear the brunt of well-intentioned, but misdirected efforts to reduce tobacco consumption,” said Bryans.

The OCSA believes that an alternative to flavour bans that would have immediately addressed the issue of youth consumption was to penalize possession of tobacco products for those under the legal age. In Ontario, the sale of tobacco to minors is illegal however possession and consumption is not.

ABOUT THE OCSA
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.


 

Retailers Welcome Ontario Government’s Commitment to Addressing Contraband Tobacco

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – November 17th, 2014) – Ontario’s convenience store retailers are pleased with the mention of illegal/contraband tobacco in Minister Sousa’s Fall Economic Statement released today.

“Illegal tobacco has cost this government almost a billion dollars in lost revenue, so we are thankful that fairness in taxation is a priority in this statement,” says Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).

The provincial government reaffirmed its commitment to expanding the raw leaf oversight in 2015, a measure they are hopeful will help impede the flow of raw leaf tobacco to contraband tobacco product manufacturers and address some of the concerns raised by law enforcement agencies. The OCSA was also pleased to see commitments for additional information sharing between ministries as well as public reporting on progress to eliminate contraband tobacco as part of new initiatives in today’s statement.

A federal and provincial tobacco tax increase earlier this year has created incentive for customers to purchase from the illegal market to take advantage of rock-bottom pricing. This is coupled with the availability of products that have been banned on the legal market, including flavoured tobacco products. The OCSA and its retailers have noticed an overall reduction in customers who purchase taxed, regulated tobacco products from their stores and believe there is a general lack of awareness amongst consumers about the issue.

“We would welcome additional measures to deter the sale and purchase of contraband tobacco products through a public awareness campaign aimed at educating consumers about the legal and financial ramifications of supporting this black-market industry,” said Bryans. “We want to work with the government to inform our customers about the consequences of purchasing of untaxed products as it is not a victimless crime.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings and without age verification checks, to anyone willing to buy. The OCSA has conducted a contraband tobacco study that re-assesses sites across the province to determine the prevalence of illegal tobacco in those communities. The Association will release these results before the end of 2014, along with recommendations for future action.

ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

Contact Information

Summa Strategies Canada
Lindsay Doyle/Katlyn Harrison

ldoyle@summa.ca/kharrison@summa.ca


 

CD Howe Institute: Lack of competition in Ontario allows The Beer Store to earn as much as $630 million in additional profits

 Report calls for more competition in alcohol retailing from private firms – including convenience stores

 

August 20, 2014 – Oakville, Ontario The CD Howe Institute report released today highlights benefit the Ontario government could gain not only in the form of increased revenue, but also from more choice and convenience for consumers. Ontario’s chain convenience stores are a strong partner of government, selling 75% of all lottery tickets, and also operating many of Ontario’s 219 LCBO Agency Stores, where we sell alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) in communities throughout the province.

“Make no mistake about it – modernizing Ontario’s alcohol retailing system can be done within the framework of the LCBO and in a responsible manner to ensure that the sale of alcohol is conducted with the highest standards,” said Dave Bryans, CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association.

It can also help boost important sectors like Ontario’s craft beer industry. OCSA members have a plan to voluntarily set aside at least 30% of beer retail space for Ontario craft brewers, creating significantly more consumer exposure and retailing opportunities than they currently have – especially in the communities where they operate.

All of this is something Ontarians support and Ontario’s chain convenience stores are ready to deliver.

About OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents convenience stores committed to Responsible Community Retailing. The convenience store industry represents $13 billion in sales annually in Ontario and employs over 69,000 people. Convenience stores are also the largest partner of the Ontario government for the OLG, selling 75% of all lottery tickets in the province and returning billions in tax and gaming revenues to public coffers. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

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Media inquiries:

John Perenack
jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response)
416.864.7112 x2233


 

Ontario Convenience Stores Association continues to support prohibition on sale of illegal drug paraphernalia

TORONTO, July 17, 2013 – The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) reiterated its support for the Ontario Safety League’s objectives regarding illegal drug paraphernalia. OCSA believes the League’s aims can best be achieved through Canada’s existing federal law (Criminal Code section 462.2), which came into force in 2013.

“The members of the Ontario Convenience Store Association are responsible community retailers and we do not condone the sale of illegal drug paraphernalia,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “We continue to be supportive of the Ontario Safety League’s objective; however, Canadian law already prohibits the sale of these products. Duplicating federal law with provincial measures carrying much lower penalties is unnecessary, and would likely be ineffective.”

Current federal law already prohibits selling drug paraphernalia for the purpose of illegal drug use, and carries a fine of up to $100,000 and/or six months in prison for a first offense. Subsequent offenses carry a fine of up to $300,000 or up to one year in prison – or both.

Ontario Convenience Stores Association members are proud to be strong partners of the Ontario government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). All convenience stores selling OLG lottery products must register with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). In order to sell lottery products, Convenience store retailers go through a detailed screening, are subject to all of the requirements of Ontario’s Gaming Control Act, and other standards set by the AGCO, such as investigation concerning the character, integrity and financial competence of each retailer.

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents convenience stores throughout the province that are committed to responsible community retailing. The convenience store industry generates $13 billion in sales annually in Ontario and employs over 69,000 people. More than 3 million shoppers visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

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Media inquiries:

Bryn Turnbull, bturnbull@strategycorp.com (quick response), 416.864.7112 x2243

John Perenack, jperenack@strategycorp.com, 416.864.7112 x2233


 

ONTARIO RETAILERS WARN OF CONSEQUENCES OF PROPOSED TOBACCO TAX HIKE

 

TORONTO, ONTARIO – (Marketwire-April 30, 2014) – Ontario’s convenience store retailers are expressing concern over media reports suggesting a provincial tax hike on tobacco products as part of the 2014 Budget.

“If accurate, these reports are extremely troubling,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).  “This is not a tax increase that will go unnoticed by Ontario’s small businesses or by the Ontario public, despite what the Premier and Finance Minister may believe.”

Prior to the budget, the OCSA delivered 20,000 signed postcards addressed to Premier Wynne, asking that the Government not increase taxes on tobacco products, because of the impact this will have on community safety.  This is in addition to motions passed by over 80 municipal councils, asking the provincial government to do more to correct illegal (contraband) tobacco.

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings and without age verification checks, to anyone willing to buy. Increased taxes drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and more accessible to youth.  A recent study conducted by the OCSA found contraband tobacco use as high as 30% in some municipalities across the province.

“The choice to increase tobacco taxes would ignore the thousands of Ontarians who have voiced their concerns over the impact that contraband tobacco and organized crime has on their community,” said Bryans. “A quick tax grab off of the backs of small businesses should not outweigh keeping our communities safe.”

The OCSA also reminds the government that, when other jurisdictions with a contraband tobacco problem raised tobacco taxes, rarely have they achieved projected revenue targets. “If the government really wanted to raise revenue, it should focus on recouping the hundreds of millions of dollars it loses each and every year to contraband tobacco, rather than making the problem worse with a tax increase,” said Bryans.

“For the last three years, the Ontario government has promised to address illegal tobacco, and we have seen no action,” said Bryans. “It’s time for this government to acknowledge there is a real problem with contraband tobacco in this province. A tax increase would send us ten steps backward.”

ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Katlyn Harrison or Lindsay Doyle, Summa Strategies Canada


 

403,412 Ontarians say it’s time The Beer Store had some competition and voice support for beer in convenience stores

www.freeourbeer.ca petition unveiled in Toronto is the largest in Ontario history

TORONTO, April 23, 2014 /CNW/ – Amid a “fear mongering”i ad blitz launched by The Beer Store to protect its near-monopoly on beer sales in Ontario, The Ontario Convenience Stores Association unveiled an unprecedented show of public support for modernizing Ontario’s outdated alcohol retailing laws with a 403,412 name petition signed by Ontarians from communities across the province. It is the largest single signed petition ever collected in Ontario and the second-largest in Canada.  The petition calls on the Ontario Legislature to broaden Ontario’s current alcohol retailing system to include convenience stores, in particular to allow competition with the foreign-owned Beer Store.

“The over 400,000 Ontarians that signed this petition were consistent in one thing – it’s time the foreign-owned Beer Store had a little home-grown competition.  Ontario’s alcohol retailing system was designed during prohibition in 1927 – 87 years ago – and people are ready for change,” said Dave Bryans, CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).  “The people who have signed this petition are New Democrats, Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. They’re parents, neighbours and responsible adults who want the same simple convenience that their friends and relatives outside Ontario enjoy.  Convenience stores are already responsibly offering alcohol in over 200 communities and it’s time to add on to the existing system with more options for consumers.”

The petition, which was collected over the course of six weeks in 2013, is the latest evidence of the widespread support for modernizing Ontario’s alcohol retailing system to include convenience stores.  People can still sign the petition at www.freeourbeer.ca.

OCSA members have also pledged support for Ontario craft brewers and Ontario wineries in a modernized retailing system. Retailers previously announced a plan to voluntarily set aside at least 30% of beer and wine retail space for Ontario wines and craft beer, creating significantly more consumer exposure and retailing opportunities than they currently have – especially in the communities where they operate.

“Not only does our plan dedicate 30% of space to Ontario craft beer and wines, it also allows Ontario craft brewers and Ontario wineries access to a modern, established distribution and logistics system to get their products into stores,” added Bryans. “Our distribution partners have the ability to cost-effectively ship even a single bottle of wine or six-pack of beer to individual stores.  Gone are the days when stores needed to buy in large quantities and manufacturers needed to own fleets of trucks for distribution.”

In December 2013, OCSA released an Ipsos Reid study that revealed that nearly seven-in-ten (69%) people in Ontario want to see private retailers, like convenience stores, sell alcohol and compete with the foreign-owned Beer Store.

About OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents convenience stores throughout the province that are committed to Responsible Community Retailing.  The OCSA membership comprises nearly 7,000 of the 11,000 convenience stores in Ontario.  The convenience store industry represents $13 billion in sales annually in Ontario and employs over 69,000 people.  Convenience stores are also the largest partner of the Ontario government for the OLG, selling 75% of all lottery tickets in the province and returning billions in tax and gaming revenues to public coffers. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.
_______________________
i Globe and Mail, April 16, 2014, “Beer Store takes to fear mongering in fight against expanding alcohol sales”

SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association

For further information:

Media inquiries:

John Perenack
jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response)
416.864.7112 x2233


Premier Wynne: It’s time for some adult supervision of The Beer Store

TORONTO, April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014

Premier Kathleen Wynne,
premier@ontario.ca

Dear Premier Wynne,

There’s a healthy debate ongoing in Ontario about modernizing our 87 year-old system of alcohol retailing.  That’s a good thing. Debate about public policy issues that are important to Ontarians should be welcomed. In this case, both sides have had the opportunity to discuss the issues and we know that 70% or more of Ontarians want to see reform.

But we’ve now seen The Beer Store, the foreign-owned legislated near-monopoly on beer sales that the Ontario government permits, running US-style attack campaign ads against Ontario businesses – ads that feature a fiction so detached from the reality of how the responsible community convenience store retailers operate, it’s laughable.  Refreshingly, Ontarians are seeing right through them and openly mocking these ads.

Clearly the foreign owners of The Beer Store, US-based Molson Coors, Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch, and Japanese-based Sapporo are worried about the risk of losing their near-monopoly on beer sales in Ontario.

The big issue here is the conduct of The Beer Store.  As Premier and the person ultimately responsible for the behaviour of this legislated monopoly, are you comfortable with the way these brewers are using profits from Ontario beer drinkers to attack Ontario businesses? We certainly hope not.  Debating the issues is one thing, but The Beer Store manufacturing falsehoods and using its deep pockets to spread them with massive television ad campaigns is another.

Ontario Convenience Stores Association members are responsible community retailers.  We are entrusted to sell more age restricted products than any other retailer – and do an excellent job of it.  Convenience stores employ 69,000 people in Ontario and we’re a $13 retail billion industry for the province. Convenience stores are also the largest partner of the Ontario government for the OLG, selling 75% of all lottery tickets in the province and returning billions in tax and gaming revenues to public coffers.

Healthy debate about the issues is something that should be encouraged.  The conduct of The Beer Store, a protected business that only operates because the Ontario government permits it to do so, is unseemly and it leaves a great many Ontarians asking the question ‘Where is the government’s adult supervision of The Beer Store?’

Sincerely,

Dave Bryans, CEO
Ontario Convenience Stores Association

SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association

For further information:John Perenack, jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response), 416-864-7112 x2233


 

Thousands Ask Premier Not to Raise Taxes, Correct Illegal Tobacco

TORONTO (April 15th, 2014) –Over 20,000 Ontario voters have asked Premier Kathleen Wynne not to raise taxes on legal tobacco products in the 2014 budget, because of the impact this would have on contraband tobacco.

 

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) launched the “Act Now” postcard campaign one month ago, to educate consumers on the dangers of contraband tobacco and ask that provincial taxes on tobacco products not be increased until the problem is fixed.

 

“Hundreds of stores were eager to participate in this campaign, not only because of the impact to our business, but because of community safety concerns,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA. “We’ve been asking the Ontario government to implement its contraband tobacco enforcement measures for the last three years, and it’s clear the public wants to see this happen as well.”

In addition to the 20,000 postcards collected, the OCSA has also launched www.stopillegaltobacco.ca, which features information about contraband tobacco as well as a video explaining the impacts of this illegal industry on Ontario’s communities.

 

This campaign follows recent contraband tobacco studies conducted by the OCSA which found illegal tobacco rates as high as 46.6% at certain locations across the province. The provincial average of illegal tobacco usage throughout Ontario was 21%.

 

According to a Canadian Taxpayers Federation study, over $1 billion is lost in Ontario and federal government taxes because of the illegal tobacco trade. The OCSA repeated information from the 2012 Drummond Report, which noted that $225 million could be saved annually if the Ontario government chose to implement contraband tobacco enforcement measures.

 

“Ontario voters have spoken loud and clear – they do not want another tax increase, and they do not want to see increased tobacco taxes until the issue of illegal tobacco in Ontario is resolved,” concludes Bryans.

 

Please view our campaign video by clicking this link.

 

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Contact:

Lindsay Doyle or Katlyn Harrison

Summa Strategies Canada

Phone: 613 – 235 – 1400

Email: ldoyle@summa.ca/kharrison@summa.ca

 


ONTARIO RETAILERS EXPECT SIGNIFICANT RISE IN ILLEGAL TOBACCO SALES

TORONTO, ONTARIO – (Marketwire – February 12th 2014) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) and its 7,000 retail members are urging the provincial government to maintain current tobacco tax rates, following an increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco products.

“Increased taxes on tobacco products punishes law-abiding retailers, and do nothing to address the issue of contraband tobacco,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “It is critical that Ontario does not add to the problem created by an excise tax hike by increasing their own tobacco taxes.”

Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings and without age-verification checks, to anyone who is willing to buy. Increased taxes and regulations drive the tobacco market underground, meaning these products are both more affordable and accessible to youth.

“We have seen an increase in the presence of illegal tobacco at hospitals and high schools across Ontario – places where no one should be smoking, period” stated Bryans. “Communities such as London, Windsor, Niagara Falls, and even parts of the GTA are losing ground to the illegal tobacco trade.”

Ontario’s convenience store retailers are urging the province not to follow suit with the federal government by hiking provincial taxes on tobacco products. Instead, the OCSA is asking that the provincial government follow through on previous commitments to enhance enforcement to stop the illegal market from expanding. The Association is also asking the province consult further with retailers on this public safety issue, and work with all levels of government to address Canada’s illegal tobacco problem.

“We want to work with the government to address youth access to tobacco and the illegal tobacco market.  Raising taxes is not the way to do this,” emphasized Bryans. “Tax increases may appear to be a short-term gain for governments, but the consequences faced by provincial law enforcement, communities and our small businesses that accompany these increases are felt for much longer.”

ABOUT THE OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day

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For further information, please contact:

Katlyn Harrison
613.235.1400


Ontario’s chain convenience stores best at age checks; Refute report from foreign owners of The Beer Store

 Statement from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association

February 10, 2014

Ontario’s chain convenience stores, which make up the majority of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), dismissed a report from the foreign owners of The Beer Store that called into question their ability to check for age.

Curiously, the report compiled for the privately-owned monopoly included no independent testing of The Beer Store itself.

However, a much larger age-check study – conducted by Statopex Field Marketing that included The Beer Store, LCBO and chain convenience stores –  found that when tested with underage secret shoppers (age 15-18), chain convenience stores scored the highest with an 87.3% pass rate, The Beer Store next with 80.7% and LCBO last with 74.6% – meaning 1 in 4 minors successfully purchased age-restricted products from LCBO, and 1 in 5 from The Beer Store – compared to 1 in 8 for convenience stores.

In total, this more balanced Statopex study of nearly 300 stores tested 105 LCBO locations, 98 locations from The Beer Store, and 93 convenience stores.  The convenience store success rate testing for age shown in this Statopex study was consistent with Health Canada’s secret shopping tests of over 300 chain convenience stores in Ontario each year.

In addition, today’s report commissioned by the owners of The Beer Store relies on a skewed sample that was 80% non-chain stores, which is not representative of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association.

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For more information:

John Perenack, jperenack@strategycorp.com


Study shows nearly 70% of Ontarians support allowing more private retailers to compete with The Beer Store 

December 19, 2013 – Oakville – A newly-released study of Ontarians attitudes toward beer sales shows that seven out of ten (69%) want to see more private retailers, like convenience stores, offer competition to The Beer Store.  The study, conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion, concluded that support for allowing private retailers to compete with both the LCBO and The Beer Store is “widespread and strong.”

 

“This survey reinforces what convenience stores hear from their customers almost daily – people want more choice and convenience in alcohol retailing. They know that competition is a good thing, and there is evidence to show that adding competition to alcohol retailing in Ontario can actually boost LCBO profits at the same time,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). “And that’s not to mention the jobs that would be created with allowing more competition. Earlier this year one of our members alone promised it would immediately create nearly 1,800 jobs if alcohol retailing were expanded.”

 

Other findings from the Angus Reid Public Opinion survey:

  • ·        61% of Ontarians in urban areas and 83% in rural areas were familiar with the LCBO Agency Store program where about 200 convenience stores in Ontario already sell alcohol
  • ·        73% want to see the LCBO’s Agency Store network expanded
  • ·        Only 13% of Ontarians are aware that The Beer Store is owned by three foreign multi-national companies.  When informed of The Beer Store’s ownership, 62% of Ontarians had a somewhat negative, or very negative opinion of the organization
  • ·        63% of Ontarians ranked the responsible sale of alcohol as a main factor in their overall experience when purchasing alcohol; 46% cited overall convenience as key

“The facts are that convenience stores can and do retail alcohol responsibly and professionally. In fact, we’re already doing it at 200 locations in Ontario through the LCBO Agency Store program,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “Whether it’s abroad, in Quebec, or right here at home, Ontarians have seen how convenience stores are responsible alcohol retailers.”

 

A mystery shopping study conducted by Statopex Field Marketing (www.statopex.com) revealed that when tested with underage secret shoppers (age 15-18), convenience stores scored the highest with an 87.3% pass rate, The Beer Store next with 80.7% and LCBO last with 74.6% – meaning 1 in 4 minors successfully purchased age-restricted products from LCBO, and 1 in 5 from The Beer Store – compared to 1 in 8 for convenience stores.

Last year, the OCSA also delivered a petition to Queen’s Park calling on the Ontario Legislature allow for more competition in beer and wine sales through convenience stores. The petition collected 112,500 names from 220 communities across the province, making it the largest single petition ever collected in Ontario.

About OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents convenience stores throughout the province that are committed to responsible community retailing. The OCSA membership comprises nearly 7,500 of the 11,000 convenience stores in Ontario. The convenience store industry represents $13 billion in sales annually in Ontario and employs over 69,000 people. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.

 

Media inquiries:

John Perenack
jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response)
416.864.7112 x2233


Retailers Support Smoke Free Youth in Ontario

 

TORONTO (November 13, 2013) – On behalf of the over 7,000 convenience store retailers operating in Ontario, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) commends the provincial government for its commitment to reduce tobacco consumption amongst underage youth.

“Our members take pride in our responsible retailing mandate and we view ourselves as an active partner with the Ontario government in reducing youth consumption of tobacco products,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA. “Our retailers receive extensive age-testing training, including a comprehensive and free online program called We Expect I.D., which is offered by the OCSA to all retailers.”

When tested with underage secret shoppers (age 15-18), convenience stores scored the highest with an 87.3% pass rate of complying with age verification testing when compared to other establishments selling age-restricted products. Family run convenience stores have proven over and over that they are the best retailers in Ontario at selling age restricted products including lottery and tobacco.

“Our retailers recognize the important role we play in terms of preventing youth access, and under no circumstances do we condone the sale of tobacco products to minors,” adds Bryans.

The Association also reminds the government that they must accompany any ban of flavoured tobacco products with equally tough measures to combat contraband tobacco as history has shown that bans of legal tobacco products give illegal manufacturers the opportunity to sell the products in the black market.

“There is a long history of contraband tobacco in our province. We are concerned that a product ban will fuel this existing illegal market and negate the intent of the bans themselves,” warns Bryans.

The unintended consequence of product bans is best evidenced by the results of the federal government’s ban on little cigars. The RCMP saw a nearly 1000% increase in the number of little cigars seized following the implementation of the ban in 2010 (140,000 seized in 2010 vs. 1,164,000 in 2011).

“Any legislation that impacts the sale of legal tobacco must be complemented by deterrence and enforcement measures to address the illegal tobacco trade,” stated Bryans. “While the Ontario government has promised to tackle contraband tobacco through its budget commitments, we have yet to see enforcement and deterrence measures put into place.”

According to Ontario’s Auditor General, additional revenue enforcement against contraband tobacco could help the province recoup more than $500 million annually. This lost tax revenue would not only help reduce Ontario’s deficit but also fund vital social programs such as health care.

The OCSA is urging the Ontario government to consult further with small businesses to address the unintended consequences which may occur as a result of a flavour ban, and also to partner with the Association on age verification training of retailers across the province.  The Association is also requesting the Ontario government to follow through on all budget commitments related to contraband tobacco.

About the OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day

-30-

For further information, please contact:

Lindsay Doyle/Katlyn Harrison
Summa Strategies Canada Inc.

ldoyle@summa.ca/kharrison@summa.ca
613.235.1400


Convenience store chains unveil major initiative to dedicate one-third of retailing space for Ontario wines and Ontario craft beer

New retail channel would create big opportunities for local craft beers and Ontario wines to be sold right in the communities where they are made and across the province

October 29, 2013 – Queen’s Park – Ontario’s leading chain convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, Mac’s (Couche Tard), and Petro-Canada (Suncor), announced today that, when Ontario modernizes its alcohol retailing system, Ontario craft brewers and wineries will be the first to benefit.  Retailers announced a plan to voluntarily set aside at least 30% of beer and wine retail space for Ontario wines and craft beer, creating significantly more consumer exposure and retailing opportunities than they currently have – especially in the communities where they operate.

“Convenience stores are local community retailers and we’re perfectly suited to help promote and support Ontario’s local craft breweries and Ontario wineries.  Our pledge will mean that, in addition to the space LCBO provides, even smaller Ontario wines and craft beer will have guaranteed access to a large dedicated space in retailers around the province,” said Dave Bryans, President of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).  “Even better, by working with the LCBO as Ontario’s wholesaler of alcohol, it would mean that the Ontario government would benefit too, through bigger profits for the LCBO and more revenue for priorities like education and health care.”

Retailers signing the pledge include: 7-Eleven Convenience Stores Company, Mac’s Convenience (Couche-Tard), Suncor, Hasty Market, Rabba Fine Foods, Daisy Mart, Quickie Convenience, Winks, Avondale and more. Visit www.freeourbeer.ca for the full list of retailers.

“Not only does our plan dedicate 30% of space to Ontario craft beer and wines, so they don’t have to fight the big brewers for shelf space, it also allows small craft brewers and Ontario wineries access to a modern, established distribution and logistics system to get their products into stores,” added Bryans. “Our distribution partners have the ability to cost-effectively ship even a single bottle of wine or six-pack of beer to individual stores.  Gone are the days when stores needed to buy in large quantities and manufacturers needed to own fleets of trucks for distribution.”

Convenience Store Ontario Craft Beer & Ontario Wine pledgeOntario convenience stores already sell alcohol in almost 200 locations in Ontario through the LCBO Agency Store program.Ontario Convenience Store Association members have been shown through independent testing to be the best at age checks, stopping more minors from purchasing age-restricted products than the government-run LCBO or the foreign-owned Beer Store.Ontario Convenience Store Association members have demonstrated they’re ready for the responsibility to offer alcohol at more locations, and to help the Ontario government grow the $1.7 billion in profit that the LCBO already contributes.Convenience stores are local businesses and want to support the growth of the rich and diverse Ontario craft beer and Ontario wine industries in the province.As local businesses, convenience stores want to create new opportunities for local craft brewers and wine producers to showcase their products right in their own communities.To achieve this Ontario Convenience Store Association members pledge to:

  • Voluntarily set aside a minimum of about one-third (30%) of alcohol retail space to promote, display and sell Ontario craft beer and Ontario wines when expanded alcohol retailing comes to Ontario.
  • Boost local craft beer and Ontario wines by focusing on stocking local brands, and giving them greater exposure right in the communities and regions where they’re created.

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Media enquiries:

John Perenack, jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response), 416-864-2211 x2233 or Shawna Rossi, srossi@strategycorp.com, 416-864-2211 x2251

 


 

Economic Study: Ontario’s beer retailing system enables The Beer Store owners to capture up to $700 million in incremental profits from Ontario beer drinkers every year

“The Beer Store is a classic textbook example of a cartel” – peculiarly protected by provincial legislation in Ontario

August 12, 2013 – Toronto – A new economic study that looked at beer prices between Ontario and Quebec has found that differences in the prices of identical products between the two provinces enables the foreign-owned Beer Store to capture as much as $700 million in “incremental profits” each year because of the near-monopoly on beer retailing it enjoys in Ontario. The Beer Store is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev of Belgium; Molson Coors Brewing Company of the United States; and, Sapporo of Japan. The study was conducted by Professor Anindya Sen, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo.

“This study found that there are significant differences in average beer prices between Quebec and Ontario. Beer prices are an average of $9.50 per case or 27 percent higher in Ontario versus Quebec,” said Professor Sen. “These findings aren’t necessarily an argument to reduce beer prices, as there are arguments that higher prices play an important social policy role. But it raises the important question of whether through modernizing retailing the Ontario government could be benefitting more – and capturing more revenue – particularly in a period of large government deficits.”

The study focussed on beer prices for 24-bottle (341 ml) cases of beer. The data on beer prices were collected from two major grocery stores in Quebec and The Beer Store (in Ontario). Beer prices were virtually identical between different grocery stores in Quebec. However, there were significant differences between average prices in Quebec and Ontario. For example, the pre-tax average price for 24-bottle packs of brands including Molson Canadian, Molson Dry, Coors Light, Budweiser and Bud Light were $25.95 in Quebec and $35.56 at The Beer Store in Ontario.

“Professor Sen’s conclusions remind us why we need to have a serious discussion about Ontario’s outdated alcohol retailing system,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “We know that Ontario can expand alcohol retailing to more private retailers and still earn the revenue it now receives from the LCBO – and more. Adding private retailers, like convenience stores, who can work with the LCBO wholesale system would benefit the provincial government, and Ontarians would benefit from improved choice and convenience. Over 200 convenience stores already sell alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) in Ontario through the LCBO’s Agency Store program.”

 study earlier this year by Professor Sen found that, contrary to common belief, expanding alcohol retailing beyond the LCBO and Beer Store would preserve the LCBO’s profit and also provide the framework for even greater profits for the government. The study also found that the vast majority of the $1.7 billion in revenue Ontario receives from alcohol sales comes from LCBO’s wholesale mark-up of alcohol – not its retail stores. LCBO’s wholesaling division is the entity that purchases alcohol from manufacturers and is one of the largest single alcohol wholesalers in the world. This is separate from the LCBO’s network of retail stores where alcohol is sold.

The cost of conducting this study was financially supported by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, however the analysis and conclusions are entirely those of Professor Sen.

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Media enquiries:
John Perenack, jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response), 416-864-7112 x2233


Study shows Ontario government could earn higher profits by allowing competition to government-run LCBO and foreign-owned Beer Store

Keeping LCBO and Beer Store, but increasing competition for consumers grows LCBO profits and creates opportunities for more government revenue

June 24, 2013 – Toronto – A new economic study suggests that expanding the current retailing system beyond the LCBO, Beer Store would not only preserve the $1.6 billion profit that the LCBO returns to the government, but would quite possibly increase it. The study was conducted by Professor Anindya Sen, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo.

“This study is based on economic models and independent analysis of 18 years of statistical data on revenues provincial governments receive from alcohol sales,” said Professor Sen. “Two key findings emerge from the study:

  1. contrary to common belief, expanding alcohol retailing beyond the LCBO and Beer Store would preserve the LCBO’s profit and also provide the framework for even greater profits for the government; and,
  2. the vast majority of revenue Ontario receives from alcohol sales comes from LCBO’s wholesale mark-up of alcohol.”

Many of the study’s conclusions are informed by Statistics Canada data on government revenues from multiple Canadian provinces and analyzing liquor control board revenues from 1993-2011. During this period provinces such as British Columbia expanded the role private retailers play alongside government retail outlets. By examining the data from the alcohol retailing systems across provinces, Professor Sen was able to construct a model to identify what would occur if Ontario expanded its system of retail alcohol sales to provide competition for the government-run LCBO and foreign-owned Beer Store.

“In releasing this study, our goal was to ensure that when the time comes for a real discussion about modernizing Ontario’s alcohol retailing system, people and politicians have all the facts,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “Professor Sen’s study shows that Ontario can expand alcohol retailing and still earn the revenue it now gets from the LCBO – and more. And at the same time, protect the value of the LCBO as an asset for the province.”

The study also illustrates the LCBO’s value as an asset, with the most profitable part identified as the wholesaling arm, which in turn possesses the most asset value, as compared to LCBO’s high-cost retailing arm. LCBO’s wholesaling division is the entity that purchases alcohol from manufacturers and is

ne of the largest single alcohol wholesalers in the world. This is separate from the LCBO’s network of retail stores where alcohol is sold.

“I approached the Ontario Convenience Stores Association because, while there has been considerable debate on the likely impacts of expansion of private retailing on government revenues, there is a dearth of comprehensive and academic research in this area,” added Sen. “The objective of this report is to offer some clarity to this question through rigorous methods employed by economists.”

The cost of conducting the study was financially supported by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, however the analysis and conclusions are entirely those of Professor Sen.

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Media enquiries:
John Perenack, jperenack@strategycorp.com (quick response), 416-864-7112 x2233


Ontario Convenience Stores Applaud Federal Budgetary Action against Contraband Tobacco

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – March 21, 2013) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) applauded today’s inclusion of anti-contraband tobacco measures in the federal budget. The Government has allocated $3 million over two years to hire ten additional police officers in First Nations police services to focus specifically on contraband tobacco. The Harper government recently introduced greater enforcement and penalties for those trafficking contraband tobacco.

“On behalf of the OCSA and alongside the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, I would like to congratulate the federal government for including these anti-contraband measures in the federal budget,” said CEO Dave Bryans.

“Contraband tobacco is a major issue for our 7,500 retailers across Ontario, with significant consequences on community safety. The additional RCMP and First Nations officers, coupled with the increased penalties will hopefully have a significant impact in deterring contraband tobacco traffickers, who threaten the safety of Ontarians”, said Bryans.

Working with its retailers, the OCSA is conducting a Communities Against Contraband Tobacco campaign, which asks municipal councils to support a motion encouraging further action on contraband tobacco. To date, over 43% of Ontarians are represented by municipalities that have passed motions encouraging the Ontario Minister of Finance to follow through on 2012 budget commitments, which would see increased power for law enforcement in Ontario to deal with contraband offences.

“We are hopeful that this federal commitment will encourage our partners in the Government of Ontario to follow through on its commitments so we can see tangible results in the fight against illegal tobacco.”


Ontario Convenience Stores Association Applauds Critical Support from Mississauga City Council

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Nov. 16, 2012) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) is pleased to recognize the support of Mississauga City Council, in passing a motion against contraband tobacco at their meeting on Wednesday, November 14th. The motion requests that Mayor McCallion write a letter to the Ontario Minister of Finance encouraging the Government of Ontario to follow through on promises to increase resources in the fight against contraband tobacco.

“On August 15, 2012, CBSA officers intercepted a large shipping container in a Mississauga warehouse filled with illegal product. The RCMP said the contraband goods represented tens of millions of dollars in evaded duties and taxes to federal and provincial governments,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “This influx of illegal product would have without a doubt made its way into the hands of Mississauga youth. We would like to thank members of Council for their support-this is a clear sign that your local government places a high priority on public safety.”

Mississauga area retailers and members of the OCSA look forward to seeing a reduction of contraband products following the recent commitments in the Ontario budget. “As the government looks to follow through on Budget commitments to stop contraband tobacco, support from all levels of government will be critical in helping protect the safety of our communities, and to ensuring that age-restricted products don’t wind up in the hands of Ontario’s young people,” said Bryans.

The OCSA has been engaging municipalities throughout Ontario in its anti-contraband tobacco campaign for over 6 months. To date, over 40 municipalities throughout the province have passed supportive motions.

The OCSA represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.


Ontario Convenience Stores Association Receives Support from Belleville City Council in Anti-Contraband Tobacco Campaign

BELLEVILLE, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Nov. 14, 2012) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) is pleased to recognize the support of the Belleville City Council, in passing a motion against contraband tobacco at a meeting held Tuesday, November 13th. The motion requests that the Mayor of Belleville write a letter encouraging the Ontario Minister of Finance to follow through on promises to increase resources in the fight against contraband tobacco.

“The distribution and sale of contraband tobacco is a growing concern in the Belleville area. Highway 401 serves as vital distribution route for illegal cigarettes, giving smugglers access to multiple cities and towns,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. Earlier this year, the Hastings and Prince Edward County Health unit acknowledged that contraband tobacco continues to be a major public health issue in the area, as highlighted by an RCMP billboard campaign launched in Belleville. “We would like to thank members of Council for their support. This is a clear sign that your local government will not tolerate an influx of illegal tobacco within its city limits.”

Belleville area retailers and members of the OCSA look forward to seeing a reduction of contraband products following the recent commitments in the Ontario budget. “As the government looks to follow through on Budget commitments to stop contraband tobacco, support from all levels of government will be critical in helping protect the safety of our communities, and to ensuring that age-restricted products don’t wind up in the hands of Ontario’s young people,” said Bryans.

The OCSA represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.


Ontario Convenience Stores Association Praises Support by Niagara Regional Council for Contraband Tobacco Motion

THOROLD, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Oct. 29, 2012) – The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) is pleased to recognize the support of the Niagara Regional Council, in passing a motion against contraband tobacco at a Council meeting held Thursday, October 25th. The motion requests that the Regional Council Chair write a letter encouraging the Ontario Minister of Finance to follow through on promises to increase resources in the fight against contraband tobacco.

“The QEW and other major highways serve as key contraband arteries for Niagara region’s municipalities,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “There were several major busts in mid-August by the Hamilton/Niagara RCMP, including one that would have supplied two million contraband products to local residents. It is evident that the security and well-being of Niagara residents is of a high priority Regional Councillors, and we would like to thank all the representatives who supported this motion.”

Niagara area retailers and members of the OCSA look forward to seeing a reduction of contraband products following the recent commitments in the Ontario budget. “As the government looks to follow through on Budget commitments to stop contraband tobacco, support from all levels of government will be critical in helping protect the safety of our communities, and to ensuring that age-restricted products don’t wind up in the hands of Ontario’s young people,” said Bryans.

Niagara Regional Council includes representatives from Fort Erie, Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, West Lincoln, Welland, Lincoln, Port Colborne, Wainfleet, St. Catharines and Thorold.

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents more than 7,000 convenience store operators throughout the province who are committed to Responsible Community Retailing. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.


CEO of Ontario Convenience Stores Association Seeks Support from Hamilton City Council in Fight Against Contraband Tobacco

HAMILTON, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 6, 2012) – Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) will make a presentation to the City of Hamilton General Issues Committee at City Hall regarding the issue of contraband tobacco in the Hamilton area.

This presentation follows a recent investigation and illegal tobacco seizure by Hamilton/Niagara RCMP officers, after Canada Border Services officers intercepted a large shipment bound for Southwestern Ontario. The shipment contained two million cartons worth of packaging for contraband tobacco. This seizure prevented the loss of tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and prevented a mass supply of contraband tobacco entering Southwestern Ontario.

Mr. Bryans will be available for questions and comments before and immediately following his presentation.

Note: This advisory is subject to change without notice.
Date: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Hamilton City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, 71 Main Street West, Hamilton


 

112,500 Ontarians sign petition calling for beer and wine in convenience stores

www.freeourbeer.ca petition unveiled at Queen’s Park today is believed to be the largest in Ontario history

QUEEN’S PARK, ON, July 25, 2012 /CNW/ – The tiny hamlet of Vanessa, Ontario (Population 80) and Joanne McMurchy’s convenience store is ground zero for an outpouring of public support that has led to the largest single petition collected in Ontario.  The petition calls on the Ontario Legislature to broaden Ontario’s current alcohol retailing system to include convenience stores.

McMurchy, a former health care worker and teacher, and proprietor of the Vanessa General Store has constantly heard customers ask when they would get what most other Canadians enjoy – something as simple as picking up a bottle of wine or some beer at their local convenience store.  So she started a petition.  Today that petition, which swelled to 112,500 names collected from 220 communities across the province, was unveiled at Queen’s Park.

The top 20 cities that contributed to the petition included:

Barrie
Brampton
Cambridge
Guelph
Hamilton
Kitchener
London
Mississauga
Niagara Falls
North Bay
Oshawa
Ottawa
Peterborough
St. Catharines
Stoney Creek
Thunder Bay
Toronto
Waterloo
Welland
Windsor

“The alcohol retailing system in Ontario was designed in 1927 – 85 years ago – and hasn’t fundamentally changed.  But Ontarians are now speaking loud and clear: It’s time we moved the discussion forward on modernizing alcohol retailing in Ontario to include convenience stores,” said Dave Bryans, CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).  “The people who have signed this petition are New Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. They’re parents, neighbours and responsible adults who want the same simple convenience that their friends and relatives outside Ontario enjoy.  Convenience stores are already responsibly offering alcohol in over 200 communities and it’s time to add on to the existing system with more options for consumers.”

The petition, which was collected over the course of four weeks in late 2011, is the latest evidence of the widespread support for modernizing Ontario’s alcohol retailing system to include convenience stores.  People can still sign the petition and view the full list of cities that took part at www.freeourbeer.ca.

“Customers kept saying it would be nice to be able to buy beer or wine at our store.  I decided to draw up a petition and before I knew it, pages and pages kept filling up with names of neighbours, friends, and customers who all wanted this simple convenience. People were stopping at the store just to sign the petition!,” said, Joanne McMurchy, Owner, Vanessa General Store – the location where the petition began.  “Our store is one of the central places in our community and people come here to buy everything from food to hardware, yet they have to drive 20 minutes to get a bottle of wine for dinner.  They keep telling me it’s time for change.”

Ontario Convenience Store Association members are responsible community retailers. We sell more age restricted products than any other retailer, and do a better job of checking for age than any other retailer.

Last May the OCSA unveiled an independent, third-party mystery shopping study that showed convenience stores were the best at age checks — better at denying sales of age-restricted products to minors than the foreign-owned Beer Store and the government-run LCBO.

In August, 2011, OCSA also released an Ipsos Reid study that revealed that two-thirds of Ontarians who shop at the foreign-owned Beer Store and government-run LCBO want the convenience of alcohol retailing at convenience stores.

 


 

Mr. McGuinty: 140,000 Ontario workers deserve an apology and your support

TORONTO, April 4 /CNW/ – There are over 10,000 convenience stores in Ontario. They’re owned and operated by some of the largest companies in this country and some of the hardest-working new Canadian families in Ontario.
That’s why when you said yesterday that none of these people or companies can be trusted, we were shocked and disappointed by your remarks.  It’s not often that a Premier unfairly questions the credibility of an entire industry and its 140,000 workers. The reality is convenience stores sell more age restricted products than any other retail channel in Canada. We are responsible retailers of age restricted products that include tobacco, lottery tickets, fireworks, magazines, movies, games and, yes, even alcohol.
In fact, you can buy alcohol at convenience stores in over 200 locations throughout Ontario through the LCBO’s agency store model. At each of these locations, conscientious convenience store clerks sell beer, wine and spirits at standards that meet or exceed those of the LCBO itself.

We’re building on those standards and last month announced our ‘We Expect ID’ zero-tolerance age-verification program – the toughest program of its kind in North America. Under this program, which is now rolling out to 2,500 stores in Ontario, convenience store retailers are swiping driver’s licenses of
anyone who appears under the age of 25 buying any age-restricted product. By swiping driver’s licenses through a lottery terminal, clerks immediately know the age of the customer and can easily deny sales to minors. It’s a program that’s been widely praised and has the stamp of approval from Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner.

But age-verification is a joint responsibility and we’ve been asking for the provincial government to play its role for the past two years as ‘We Expect ID’ was developed. We are hoping that in light of your comments yesterday, you will see the benefits of joining us and supporting the strictest program to keep all age-restricted products out of the hands of youth.

Mr. Premier, you made your remarks about convenience stores by referencing the OLG controversy. The convenience store industry is a steward for the lottery business in Ontario. The hard working men and women in Ontario’s 10,000 convenience stores sell over 700 million lottery tickets worth over $1.4 billion every year. The vast majority of these are honest small business people who support their families by serving communities all across the province.

Without question, the actions of corrupt individuals, whether they be at convenience stores, grocery stores or elsewhere, are inexcusable. And we’ve committed ourselves to work closely with your government to root out unscrupulous retailers. But to tar all the companies and 140,000 hard-working people that run convenience stores with the shortcomings highlighted by the Ombudsman, is simply unfair.

We hope that you’ll take some time to reconsider your comments and give both corporate Canada and the many family-run convenience stores across this province an apology and commit your government to working with us on programs like ‘We Expect ID’ to make Ontario the world leader when it comes to the responsible sale of age-restricted products.

Sincerely,

Dave Bryans,
President, Ontario Convenience Stores Association


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