Minimum Pricing in Canadian Alcohol Jurisdictions

Posted : 12/11/2013

Newfoundland & Labrador

Retail: Retail pricing is subject to minimum prices, which are set by product category and by alcohol content. Products are not to be discounted below minimum pricing and at present are at levels between 3-20% higher than minimum depending on the category.

Legislation (Regulations): Minimum price

36.1 (1) In this section, "standard serving" means: (a) 341 millilitres of beer; (b) 355 millilitres of a refreshment beverage; (c) 118 millilitres of wine; and (d) 30 millilitres of spirits.
(2b) The holder of a lounge, club, restaurant, hotel, motel, tourist home, recreational facility, restaurant/lounge, institution, military mess, tour boat, airport establishment, transportation services and special event licence shall not provide alcoholic liquor to a patron or guest on a licensed premises for less than $1.65 per standard serving inclusive of applicable taxes, or in a larger or smaller serving without an increase or decrease in the price in the same proportion as the increase or decrease in the volume of alcoholic liquor.

Nova Scotia

The NSLC uses a variety of retail tools to balance the demand for the product it sells against the potential harms it may cause. This approach includes pricing, social reference pricing, access through store location, well-trained staff that believe in the balanced mandate and advocacy for responsible consumption.
With regard to pricing, the NSLC uses a social reference pricing (floor price) regulating the price by which product cannot be sold under by category. The NSLC adjusts the social reference pricing every year by at least inflation. Since 2005, annualized NS CPE has been 1.8% and the annualized NS alcohol inflation has increased 2.4%.
The NSLC uses price bands by category. The beer category has five price bands based on alcohol content; >10%, >9% but <9.99%, >7% but <8.99%, >6% but
<6.99% and <6%. Wine, Spirits and Coolers are the other product categories but all have one price band with an established floor price.

Prince Edward Island

PEILCC uses a social reference pricing (floor price) regulating the price by which product cannot be sold under by category. The PEILCC reviews and if required, adjusts the social reference price (SRP) with each retail price increase.
SRPs are by category and size:
Beer - singles, 6 packs, 12 packs, etc.; Spirits over 14.9% - 375 ml, 750 ml, etc.; Wine - under 500 ml, 750 ml, 1500 ml, etc. There is currently no SRP for coolers.

New Brunswick

While ANBL uses terms such as minimum pricing, floor pricing, and Socially Responsible Pricing (SRP), we have not articulated a minimum pricing policy consistent with the recommendations of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.
We are in the process of drafting a Minimum Retail Pricing Policy (MRP) for presentation to our Board of Directors, and have researched the Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec (beer) policies.


There is a minimum pricing policy for beer because it is sold outside the SAQ network. The minimum price of beer is decided by the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (the Quebec Liquor Control Board) and it follows the cost of living on a yearly basis.
As for wines and spirits, prices are decided by the Société des alcools du Québec on the basis of strict parameters, but they are not called “minimum pricing”. De facto, the prices of wine in Quebec are considered as higher than in other provinces.


Minimum retail prices for all beverage alcohol retailers and all types of alcohol are established in regulation (Reg. 116/10 under the Liquor Control Act). These minimum prices are indexed to the three-year average of Ontario CPI and increased annually on March 1st. The rates vary by alcohol category and, while not directly linked to alcohol content by volume, are higher on products with higher alcohol content.
Examples of rates in effect as of March 1, 2013 (final retail price including HST and refundable container deposit):
Beer, 24 of 341 ml refillable bottles, 5% alcohol by volume $29.95
Spirits, 750 ml, 40% alcohol by volume, Gin, Vodka, Whiskey $24.45
Wine, 750 ml import table wine $6.15


Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has social reference pricing for single serve beer products that are less than one litre in size. This was implemented in 2009 as a social responsibility measure to ensure that beers containing higher alcohol content are not available at a low price. If a single-serve beer product is 5.5% alcohol or less, the minimum price is $3.58 (per litre of beverage). For single-serve beer products that are over 5.6% alcohol, the minimum pricing is $65.045 per litre of absolute alcohol.
For packaged beer at 7% or over, our purchasing department will consider all costs associated with the product (manufacturing, excise taxes, transport etc…) and if the cost comes in under $5.64 per litre they will adjust the price up. There is currently no social reference pricing on wine and spirits.


In April 2010, SLGA implemented a Social Reference Price (SRP) policy for all beverage alcohol products based on size of the product, alcohol content, and type of beverage alcohol. Although the SRP structure is not based on an exact dollar amount per standard drink, alcohol content ranges were used to link the minimum prices across product categories based on litres of pure alcohol (LPA) and package sizes. The policy introduced minimum pricing in some categories and increased them in categories where a minimum price had already been established.


The AGLC does not have minimum prices at retail; Alberta’s private liquor stores set their own shelf prices.
The AGLC calculates a wholesale price to sell to retailers using the supplier’s price then adding federal customs and excise taxes and duties, a recycling fee, a container deposit, and the provincial mark-up. This provincial mark-up is a flat rate based on the type of liquor product (spirits, beer, wine, or refreshment beverage) and the percentage of alcohol (there are bands within each category). The mark-up schedule is at: <>.

British Columbia

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch implemented minimum prices for beverage alcohol products in 1989. The minimum price rates have not been changed frequently since then. The current minimum prices, which include sales taxes, are shown below as an amount per litre for each category.


Minimum Price

Date of Last Change



May 2010



April 1993

Wine < 10 L Sizes


September 1998

Wine >= 10 L Sizes


September 1998

Packaged Cider/Coolers


April 1993

Draft Cider/Coolers


April 1993

Packaged Beer


January 2008

Draft Beer


January 2008

Northwest Territories

The NWT does not have a minimum price policy. We do apply a fixed mark-up based on volume plus all transportation, distribution and store costs to each product, so with this system we haven’t had an issue with prices being too low.


Yukon jurisdiction does not have any formal minimum pricing guideline or policy.


Nunavut does not have a pricing strategy. The pricing formula is landed cost +

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c/o Prince Edward Island Liquor Control Commission
3 Garfield Street
Charlottetown, PE C1A 6A4

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Tel: 902-368-5721 
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