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People ask me all the time why wine prices (and other alcohol prices) are so high in BC. The short answer is that there are two reasons: 1) extremely high tax rates (including hidden taxes like liquor board markup) and 2) inefficiency in our monopoly distribution system.

To give you a comparison on the tax side of the equation, here are the per capita (per person) annual amounts of money that the major provincial governments in Canada made from liquor tax revenue in 2009:

Province   
Annual Liquor Tax Revenue (2009)       
Population 
Per Capita Annual Revenue from Liquor 
Quebec
973,066,000
7,870,026
123.64
Ontario
1,883,422,000
13,134,455       
143.39
Alberta              
684,468,000
3,711,845
184.40
BC
900,135,000
4,494,232                   
200.28
Canada Overall
5,426,005
33,930,830
159.91 (Canadian Average)

As you can see, BC makes a lot of money from liquor tax revenue ... over $900 million per year. You can also see that BC makes a disproportionately large amount of money on the per capita revenue as compared to the other major provinces and the Canadian average. BC takes in just over $200 per person per year from liquor tax revenue ... almost $60 more per person per year than Ontario (the other major wine producing province) and almost $80 more per person per year than Quebec.

It's also interesting to note that Alberta, the only province with full retail privatization, makes considerably more money per person per year than either Ontario or Quebec and only a bit less than B.C. where we have much higher retail prices and almost no competition. The bottom line in BC is that we are getting soaked on the tax levels compared to the other major provinces. Makes you want to have a drink ... preferably in another province.

Also ... if you are a glutton for tax punishment ... you may want to check out my updated BC Liquor Store Wine Markup calculators which now show the HST and increased markup amounts (as of July 1st) that are hidden in the bottle prices at government stores.