TORONTO - Ontario is moving ahead with plans to set up liquor store outlets in select grocery stores by the end of the year.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario asked large food retailers Tuesday to submit their proposals if they want to house one of 10 LCBO Express outlets inside their stores.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the express outlets â€” about 2,000 square feet compared with 15,000 in a regular LCBO store â€” will be located in grocery stores that don't have a nearby liquor store.
"Ontarians have been asking for greater access and convenience to buy their favourite beer, bottle of wine, or spirit," Sousa said as he made the announcement at an LCBO store in Toronto.
"These new express stores are a way to balance that convenience with social responsibility while further supporting our local industries."
Sousa said the LCBO Express outlets would keep the same hours as regular government-run liquor stores.
The smaller-format stores will carry a range of the LCBO's best-selling beer, wine and spirits, including Ontario craft beer and VQA wine.
He said Toronto, Mississauga, London and Ottawa will be among the communities getting the new outlets.
Large food retailers interested in joining the pilot project, which the Liberals first promised two years ago, have until May 9 to submit their proposals.
Sousa says taxpayers as well as consumers will benefit from the initiative.
According to the government, the estimated value of Ontario's beverage alcohol market in 2012-13 was $10 billion.
The Progressive Conservatives said today's announcement was a deliberate attempt by the Liberals to deflect from the gas plant scandal that has been rocking the government.