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NWT Finance Minister to restrict amount of alcohol sold to individuals


The government of NWT’s Minister of Finance officially released a statement around 3:48 PM Wednesday April 16th detailing new changes to the Liquor Regulations, effective immediately, to put limits on the amount of liquor that can be sold daily to individual customers in territorial liquor stores.

“Alcohol and its availability is an important issue for all northerners. The restrictions we have put in place support the GNWT’s balanced approach to managing alcohol in our territory. These purchase restrictions are meant to ensure that residents will continue to have access to alcohol in those communities that permit it, while making it more difficult for bootlegging activity that takes advantage of vulnerable residents. “

-Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance

As of Thursday, April 16, the following restrictions have been put in place:

  • A maximum daily purchase of no more than six 375 ml containers of spirits; or a maximum daily purchase amount of $200 for individual customers
  • Individuals who wish to purchase a single item with a price point above the daily $200 limit will continue to be allowed to do so.
  • New restrictions do not apply to the wholesale purchase of liquor by a license or permit holder.
  • At the Fort Simpson liquor store, customers can still purchase, at a maximum, any of the following combinations:
    • Three 375 ml containers of spirits and twelve containers of beer
    • Three 375 ml containers of spirits and two bottles of wine
    • Two bottles of wine (maximum 2 litres) and twelve containers of beer
    • Twenty-four containers of beer and one bottle of wine
  • All NWT liquor stores remain open with the following limited hours:
    • Yellowknife, Inuvik and Hay River are open from noon to 7 PM, Monday to Saturday
    • Fort Smith is open from 2 PM to 6 PM, Monday to Saturday
    • Fort Simpson is open from 3 PM to 7 PM, Monday to Saturday
    • Norman Wells is open from 4 PM to 8 PM, Monday to Thursday, and 3 PM to 8 PM, Friday and Saturday.

Wawzonek noted changes are being made in response to requests from Members of the Legislative Assembly, as well as community and Indigenous leaders across the territory, in an effort to deter bootlegging activity in the NWT’s communities.

A similar statement was unofficially posted to the NWT Association of Communities Facebook page the afternoon of Thursday April 16th, NWT’s Minister of Finance announced amendments to the NWT Liquor Act to put in place daily purchase limit for individual customers.

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Caroline Wawzonek announced the new limit on individual customers will be set at a maximum daily purchase of $200.00 and will take effect April 16th, 2020

  • Customers who wish to purchase a single item with a price point above the $200.00 will continue to be allowed to do so.
  • Customers will also be limited to purchasing no more than six 375 ml containers of spirits.

Please note that the new restrictions will not apply to the liquor store in Fort Simpson as that community already has its own specific purchase restrictions included in the Liquor Regulations.

The statement explains the restrictions put in place today support the balanced approach the GNWT has taken to managing alcohol in the territory.

The new restrictions combined with other measures taken by the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) aim to promote social distancing, ensure the safety of staff and customers, as well as deter bootlegging activity.

Wawzonek states she has received several requests to consider amending the Liquor Regulations to allow for deliveries of alcohol products either by taxi or as part of a restaurant’s take-out deliveries.

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According to the minister, this approach would be in keeping with the NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer’s recommendations to minimize people’s movements in public.

She states that no amendments of the sort are in place but if this kind of change is made it would be within a restriction for the quantity allowed to encourage responsible consumption, not to supply parties or gatherings.

This follows the Minister’s opposite view last week on implementing restrictions on alcohol sales in NWT after several Community leaders called for some sort of limit to be imposed.

The minister ended the statement saying she continues to believe that individual communities are able to best determine how to manage access to alcohol within their boundaries, and that GNWT needs to provide the legislative tools for them to be able to do that.

Wawzonek mentions one of these mechanisms is Temporary Prohibition Orders (TPOs), and the government of NWT has already worked with four NWT communities to put orders of this nature in place within the past week.

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