North

Yukon beer prices to stay the same; premier says planned hikes weren't approved

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says draught beer prices in the territory will not go up on July 1. He says the increase was never approved.

Last week the Yukon Liquor Corporation said booze prices were going up July 1

Katja Schmidt and Christine Kent own the Dirty Northern and The Miner's Daughter, a joint bar and restaurant. They sent a letter to the premier telling him they would stand to lose thousands in revenue over planned hikes to alcohol prices. (Nancy Thomson/CBC)

Yukon premier Sandy Silver has contradicted information released by the Yukon Liquor Corporation on planned price increases for alcohol.

On June 15, the corporation notified all wholesale licence holders that booze prices — with the exception of table wine — would be going up on July 1. 

That news prompted outrage from some Whitehorse bar and restaurant owners, who said the increases would eat into their already slender profit margins.

Now, Silver says the price of draft beer will not be going up on Canada Day. 

"We are not increasing the price of draft beer. That increase was not approved and we have asked the liquor corporation to communicate this to business owners," Silver said in a statement to CBC News on June 19. 

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says draught beer prices in the territory will not go up on July 1. He says the increase was never approved. (Jane Sponagle/CBC )

Bar owner remains skeptical

Silver could not explain why the corporation would have informed businesses otherwise.

The flip flop has left local bar and restaurant owner Katja Schmidt with more questions.

Schmidt had sent a highly critical email to Silver on June 16, the day after the liquor corporation informed businesses of the coming price hikes.

Schmidt had not received any message from the liquor corporation about the change, but learned of the reprieve on draft beer prices from CBC News.

Schmidt says the change doesn't reassure her but that it raises questions about accountability within government.

"This is a huge company that generates insane amounts of money for the government. How are these things overlooked?" 

The premier says beer prices in Yukon will stay the same after July 1, contradicting what the Yukon Liquor Corporation told businesses earlier this month. (Rebecca Pate)
 

Schmidt said she and her business partner remain skeptical.

"We just have a hard time believing that the liquor minister or the premier had no idea about these changes and that this was a decision made solely by the president of Yukon Liquor or someone in Yukon Liquor," she said. 

"Considering that Mr. [minister John] Streicker is essentially the boss of Yukon Liquor. He should probably be somewhat more hands-on."

Schmidt points out that her email to Silver made specific mention of the increased monthly cost of draught beer her businesses would face. 

"I find it interesting," she said. "That's the one thing that we did have in the letter."

Schmidt says she and her business partner want more clarification and transparency from the liquor commission. 

Yukon Party Leader Stacey Hassard is also calling for more accountability. 

"It's clear that there's no plan in this government, there's no direction, it's all made up on a daily basis."

Yukon Liquor Corporation President Matt King has not responded to requests for an interview. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raised in Ross River, Yukon, Nancy Thomson is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program. Her first job with CBC Yukon was in 1980, when she spun vinyl on Saturday afternoons. She rejoined CBC Yukon in 1993, and focuses on First Nations issues and politics. You can reach her at nancy.thomson@cbc.ca.

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