Ontario Government Extending Beer Store and LCBO Hours in Halton

If you wanted a little more time to purchase wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages, you might be happy to hear that the province is extending LCBO and Beer Store hours throughout Ontario.

It's also cutting taxes for lower-income earners, slashing the number of independent legislative officers, and eliminating rent controls on some units.

Recently, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli released the 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.

The province say it's projecting a 2018-19 deficit of $14.5 billion -- $0.5 billion less than the $15 billion deficit the government previously announced.

The government says it has already saved $3.2 billion in program expenses by reducing spending and not reducing front-line services, citing its controversial cap-and-trade cancellation and other initiatives.

The magnitude of our fiscal challenge is real. It will require difficult decisions as we work to get Ontario’s finances back on track,” said Minister Fedeli. “This government believes balancing the budget and reducing Ontario’s debt burden is not only a fiscal imperative, it is a moral one. The previous government spent well beyond its means, creating a structural deficit that is unsustainable. Doing nothing is not an option -- we need to spend smarter and reinvent government.”

Changes to the LCBO and Beer Store come as no surprise, as providing greater access to libations has been an important part of Premier Doug Ford's platform.

The province says it's further modernizing alcohol sales by letting The Beer Store, the LCBO and other authorized retailers such as grocery stores and agency stores sell alcohol from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.

The province says it's also developing a plan to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores, grocery stores and big-box stores, adding that it's inviting consumers, businesses and others to have their say on the rules for selling beer, cider, wine and spirits through a comprehensive review.

These changes following the province's implementation of its buck-a-beer plan.

The province says it's proposing significant tax cuts for low-income workers.

Should the legislation pass, the province says the vast majority of low-income workers would pay no Ontario Personal Income Tax at all. It would provide low-income and minimum wage workers up to $850 in Ontario Personal Income Tax relief and couples up to $1,700.

The province says this will benefit 1.1 million people.

The government also reiterated its plan to freeze minimum wage at $14 an hour and repeal much of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

The province has also announced plans to peel back rent control for some tenants.

"To make rent more affordable and promote housing development, the government proposes to keep its promise to preserve rent control for existing tenants, [but] encourage developers to build more rental housing by exempting new rental units from rent control," the province said in the fall statement.

That means that new rental units will not be subject to rent control, but tenants who live in older units that currently abide by rent control legislation will still be protected from higher-than-expected increases.

Tenants in newer units, on the other hand, could face steeper rent increases going forward.

The government also says it plans to cancel the "expensive and ineffective" Development Charges Rebate Program, something it says will create savings of approximately $100 million over four years.

To read more about the plan, click here.

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