Hours of sale: Provincial and territorial regulation of availability of alcohol

Learn how provinces and territories can limit hours of sale to reduce alcohol consumption

Inside this alcohol policy pack

Hours of sale

Issue
Regulate commercial and public availability of alcohola,1,2,3,4

Action
Limits on hours of salea
Ensure there is no increase in hours of sale1,3,4

Degree of adoption in Canada 
Low

Current actions in Canada
Adoption of evidence-informed policy action related to limiting hours of sale across Canada is low. Although all provinces and territories have legislation in place to control hours of sale and service of alcohol, no provinces or territories have placed higher limits on hours of sale.

Allowable hours to sell and serve alcohol for on- and off-premise consumption varies by province and territory, and outlet or license type. Hours are fixed, but are often subject to amendments.

  • Saskatchewan has the longest allowable hours of operation for government–controlled retail stores, from 8 am to 3 am, for a total of 19 hours.
  • Québec and British Columbia have the longest allowable hours of service of alcohol at licensed establishments, from 9 am to 3 am and 9 to 4 am, respectively, for totals of 18 and 19 hours.
  • In certain licensed premises in New Brunswick, where a full meal service is provided, hours of service for alcohol can range from 6 am to 2 am, for a total of 20 hours.
  • Ontario has the shortest total allowable hours of alcohol service at licensed establishments, from 11 am to 2 am, for a total of 15 hours.

Most provinces and territories allow longer hours of service for special occasions such as New Year’s Eve. Extended-hours permits are available in all provinces and territories and extend the hours of sale and service.

References
1- World Cancer Research Fund International (2009). Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/Policy_Report.pdf
2- World Health Organization (2013). Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases. Retrieved from:
http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/94384/1/9789241506236_eng.pdf?ua=1
3- Cancer Care Ontario (2016). Prevention System Quality Index. Retrieved from: https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/statistical-reports/prevention-system-quality-index
4- Public Health Ontario/Cancer Care Ontario (2012). Taking Action to Prevent Chronic Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.ccohealth.ca/en/report-taking-action-to-prevent-chronic-disease
a- Community Preventive Services Task Force (2009) Systematic Review: Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Maintaining Limits on Hours of Sale