All government-owned B.C. Liquor Stores will start limiting the quantity of alcohol that customers, restaurants and businesses can buy starting Friday morning.
British Columbia's Finance Ministry says government-run liquor stores are implementing limits on alcohol sales in response to job action affecting several distribution outlets, effective immediately.
It says in a statement that no more than three of any individual item may be purchased per customer, per day, at B.C. Liquor Stores, although beer purchases are exempt.
A group representing private liquor stores, bars, pubs, and retail cannabis outlets says the rationing will likely result in some products being sold out as early as the weekend.
Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, says provincial officials informed his organization the restrictions will remain in place as long as pickets surround B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centres in Victoria, Delta, Richmond and Kamloops.
“This is insane. The only reason B.C. Liquor Stores are rationing quantities is because of the BCGEU strike, which is shutting down B.C.’s vital liquor distribution warehouses,” Guignard said.
Restrictions will remain in place until the distribution centres resume operations.
“That the BCGEU strike continues to disrupt our entire industry is deeply frustrating to the pubs and restaurants still struggling to recover from the financial damage of the pandemic,” said Guignard, noting the restrictions will not affect private stores.
He urged both sides "to get back to the negotiation table immediately before this strike does further damage to B.C.’s economy.”
Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association, warned of stock shortages in an interview with Glacier Media on Tuesday.
“We generally carry maybe, at the most, a week of inventory in a restaurant. So, after four or five days, if this isn't resolved we'll start to feel the shortages in our inventory,” he said.
BCGEU represents about 33,000 provincial workers who started to strike on Monday.
Union president Stephanie Smith has said wage protection is the top concern of her members as inflation climbs dramatically.
The contract between the BCGEU and the Public Service Agency expired April 1 and there have been sporadic talks since April 6, but the union rejected an invitation from the agency for another meeting last week, saying it would "not be fruitful."
— With a file from The Canadian Press