Earlier, we reported the Campbell administration told private liquor stores they would be getting a break on the price they pay to purchase alcohol from the government. But the administration didn't issue a news release about that cut - which will cost taxpayers up to $31.1 million in lost revenue. Speaking on Public Eye Radio, Consumer Association of Canada president Bruce Cran said, "I think we could be forgiven for thinking this was conducted in secrecy. I don't think this (discount increase) is something the government should be proud of - and obviously they weren't." But solicitor general communications director Karen Johnston said her minister John Les announced the cut during a speech to the BC Hospitality Industry Conference and Exposition - "not a secret conference." The following is a complete copy of the speaking notes for that announcement.
Speaking Points for
The Honourable John Les
B.C. Hospitality Industry Conference Exposition
Monday, November 20, 2006
Vancouver Conference Centre
* Good afternoon everyone.
* I want to thank you all for being here.
* I know that a great number of you have come from all over the province to attend this conference to showcase your innovations and ingenuity in the area of hospitality and tourism.
* I do know that tourism in British Columbia employs nearly 120,000 people who work in over 18,000 tourism businesses which add $10 billion annually to the provincial economy.
* As we get closer to the 2010 Olympic Games more people will be needed to help showcase our amazing province and offer visitors the best experience possible.
* We anticipate the 2010 Olympics to be a boost to British Columbia's economy and in particular to the hospitality and tourism industry.
* It will be an opportunity for you as professionals to shine and do what you do best - provide world class hospitality.
* Showcasing British Columbia as 'the best place on earth' has helped us maintain our position in the global marketplace.
* We want to ensure that the tourism and hospitality industry remains not only competitive in the global marketplace, but remains an integral part of British Columbia's economy.
* Over the past few years, my government has taken a number of steps to help ensure private liquor stores remain competitive.
* We've removed size limits and restrictions on product, allowed advertising of brands and prices and enabled stores to relocate to better locations within communities, to name a few.
* Today I am pleased to announce another incentive for private liquor stores.
* We are raising the purchase discount provided to licensee retail stores from 13 per cent to 16 per cent.
* This will take effect on January 28, 2007.
* This increase in the discount will help to further ensure your long-term viability in the marketplace.
* And while government wants to help the tourism and hospitality economy to flourish, we also want to ensure public safety is protected.
* And that brings me to another issue.
* An issue that is important to me, as a Father and to you as parents, aunts, uncles and concerned adults.
* The issue is access by minors to liquor.
* I've heard your concerns regarding regulations requiring you to check for 2 pieces of ID from anyone who appears to be under 25.
* Our real concern is preventing those under 19, the legal age limit, from obtaining alcohol.
* I want to let you know today that I've been granted approval in principle from cabinet to lower the age from 25 to 19 where two pieces of ID must be produced in order to purchase alcohol.
* I've also heard your concerns that there should be sanctions against minors who use false ID to obtain alcohol.
* The Province is seeking to make it a ticketable offence for minors who try to obtain alcohol with fake IDâ€¦and we're planning to have this beefed up penalty in place by March of next year.
* At the same time, the Province will raise fines for those who sell or serve alcohol to minors.
* We are making these changes because it's the right thing to do.
* They are part of a broader strategy to reduce the harm caused by allowing minors access to liquor.
* And I thank you for your ongoing support and adherence to these kinds of social responsibility measures.
* Government's partnership with you and your business is important to the overall growth of B.C.'s economy now and in the future.
* It is thanks to all of your hard work and entrepreneurial spirit to a world class tourism and hospitality industry in our province that lets B.C. shine.
* I will continue to work with you to improve service and streamline regulations and find innovative ways so that all British Columbians can benefit from a vibrant tourism and hospitality industry.
* Thank you