Taxpayers should get a refund on $200,000 liquor reform report

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wine_glass_on_side_small_sizeVICTORIA – Attorney General Suzanne Anton should ask for a refund of the nearly $200,000 she spent on a report into liquor reforms that led to disastrous results for small businesses and beer drinkers, say New Democrats.

“B.C. Liberal liquor reforms have hurt the industry across B.C., from producers to restaurants to government and private retail shops,” said David Eby, New Democrat spokesperson for liquor policy. “They have driven up the price of beer and wine in British Columbia, with the biggest impact hitting B.C.’s craft brewers.

“After years of promises, only one grocery store has wine on the shelf in the whole province. Happy hour reforms caused drink prices to go up. Now we’ve found out the B.C. Liberals paid almost $200,000 for the consultant report that told them how to create this mess. I hope it’s not too late to ask for a refund.”

In a written response to questions asked by Eby in the legislature, the Ministry of Attorney General revealed the cost of the Ernst & Young report was $187,126. Despite the stiff bill for taxpayers, repeated Freedom of Information Act requests, and repeated calls from industry for a chance to comment on the contents of the report before it was implemented, the Attorney General and the premier are still refusing to release it.

“If the public is paying for high-priced consultants to write reports that lead to disastrous outcomes, and the government isn’t going to demand a refund, the public at least deserves the right to read that report to know where things went wrong,” Eby said.

“What has Attorney General Suzanne Anton got to hide? I think every British Columbian who’s paying more for the same beer deserves to know why. Every craft brewer, restauranteur, and shop owner whose business is hurting because of this fiasco deserves to know why.”