LCBO offers 49% discount to foreign military officers stationed in Ontario

The LCBO says the discount offered to foreign military personnel has been in effect 'for quite some time.'

LCBO obligated to offer the discount under a federal law

The LCBO says a discount for foreign military officers stationed in Ontario has been in place for years. (Canadian Press)

Military personnel stationed in Ontario are entitled to a 49 per cent discount on beer, wine and liquor at some LCBO locations, a report revealed Thursday.

The discount, which the LCBO is obligated to provide under a federal law, "has been in place and has remained unchanged for many years," LCBO spokeswoman Genevieve Tomney told CBC News in an email.

But the Toronto Star says the concession is "the latest revelation on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's little-known discount programs."

According to The Star, Ken Rubin, an Ottawa-based investigative researcher and a leading access-to-information activist, obtained details on the discount through provincial freedom-of-information legislation.

The paper says the documents "show that over a six-year period beginning 2007-08, foreign military personnel assigned to temporary duties in Canada saved almost $850,000 from their booze purchases, which was lost revenue for the LCBO and, in turn, less money for the province."

Tomney says 181 individuals authorized with a NATO Liquor Permit can take advantage of the discount, but added the amount of liquor they can buy is based on rank.

NATO cardholders are allowed one tax-free purchase per month at the store designated on their permit, she explained, and when they are no longer stationed in Ontario, cardholders must return the card to the LCBO.

'Embassy' discount

Tomney confirmed that LCBO and government employees — federal or provincial — do not receive any discount from the corporation.

"The federal government is required to pay full retail price when purchasing from the LCBO. This has consistently been the policy and practice of LCBO in historical memory," Tomney wrote.

In June 2013, the LCBO began giving foreign embassies and consulates a 49 per cent discount on beer, wine and liquor prices.

A so-called "embassy" discount — which also applies to federal government purchases — was already in place, but the agency made its products even cheaper for this group starting June 23.