Liquor store purchases limited in BC amid strike

Shoppers at government-run British Columbia liquor stores will see purchase limits starting Friday amid a major union’s ongoing job action.

The BC Alliance of Beverage Licenses, or ABLE BC, says it was told by the province that government-owned BC Liquor Stores will limit how much customers can buy in one transaction. Those limits, the group says, will impact pubs, bars and restaurants too.

BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch confirmed the limits will prohibit customers from purchasing more than three of an individual item per day.

“We are conscious of growing supply constraints and want to do what we can to ensure equal access to product for all customers during the (BC General Employees Union) job action,” a statement from the LDB said.

“The implementation of modest quantity limits is intended to support the availability of liquor products for the hospitality industry, particularly smaller businesses, and retail customers while the LDB’s distribution centers continue to be impacted by job action.”

Four-packs and six-packs of products count as one unit. Only beer will be exempt, and the restrictions are expected to be in place until distribution centers resume their operations.

“This is insane. The only reason BC Liquor Stores are rationing quantities is because of the BCGEU strike, which is shutting down BC’s vital liquor distribution warehouses,” said Jeff Guignard, executive director of ABLE BC, in a news release.

The BCGEU first handed the province 72 hours’ strike notice Friday after months of bargaining. Picketing began Monday afternoon at four BCL distribution centres: in Delta, Kamloops, Richmond and Victoria. They account for an estimated 40 per cent of all alcohol in the province.

Guignard said private liquor stores won’t be introducing limits.

“We will continue to serve our customers to the best of our ability, while supplies last,” Guignard said.

“This needs to stop before it gets worse. We urge both sides to get back to the negotiation table immediately before this strike does further damage to BC’s economy.”

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Regan Hasegawa

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