Unhappy Hour for BC Beer Drinkers

Finally, after what must have been months of work The BC Government has pulled a minimum pricing policy out of thin air. For those of you who want to know it’s $5 for a pint (20oz) and $3 for a 12oz glass before tax. The rule of thumb is now 1oz of beer must cost 25¢ before tax!

Not exactly happy hour if the minimum prices are pretty much exactly where beer prices already are, in fact lots of bars are going to have to raise their prices to comply with this ludicrously high minimum level! Outside of Vancouver and Victoria pints often cost less than $5 and this is a spit in the face of all those beer-drinkers, those pubs are now breaking the law and they have no idea yet! Do you regularly buy a beer that costs less than $5 before tax? Well not for long you won’t.

The minimum wage in BC is $10.25 so there’s now no chance that the thousands upon thousands of British Columbians who earn this (or less) can even buy 2 beers (tax included), maybe even one would break the bank once a tip, income and sales taxes are added. Someone needs to tell these wealthy fools that not just rich people like to drink!

Seems that the BC government is once again the lapdog of those bar and restaurant owning corporations who were trying to derail happy hour from the get go. So to satisfy their corporate pay-masters they have introduced it in the most pathetic and toothless manner.

Check out the pretty infographic your taxes paid for on the BC government’s flickr:



They claim that this balances the health advocate nannies’ desire for alcohol to be kept away from all humans at all times and the industry who want nothing more than to get as much money out of you as legally possible; but it seems they have once again ignored those people who are the biggest and most important part of this puzzle: you – the responsible beer-loving adult. You’re getting screwed again, if you’re already paying $5.50 for a beer then it’s hardly going to make any difference to you if there’s a miniscule drop  in price. I would hazard that there’s practically no chance that anywhere not already doing a $5 daily pint special to do any happy hour deal. Let me know if you find anywhere doing a happy hour special that’s noticeably different than their usual price.

I am deeply disappointed that the BC government has once again caved to big business and fear-mongers to come up with a compromise so poorly thought out they might as well not have even bothered. Feel free to read what the corporate pressure groups and their lackeys in Victoria say about it here. They are only ones happy about this.

Business as usual. Shame on Suzanne Anton and John Yap for getting our hopes up that there would be real change when so far the changes have been deeply underwhelming. Was this liquor review just a political manoeuvre to appear to be listening to the public? Do they even understand what “Happy Hour” means ? #unhappyhour

Also announced today, on a slightly more positive note, Homebrew can now be served at Family SOL events (which CAMRA campaigned for) and you can also now move your own drink from one part of a pub/restaurant to another. These are very minor housekeeping changes that should never have been against the law (or policy masquerading as law) but are welcome.


Adam Chatburn

President, CAMRA BC – Vancouver Branch