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“This is the first I’ve heard of it” Doug Ford says of LCBO plan to deliver booze through UberEats

Ontario Premier Doug Ford at a press conference on January 11, 2022. Photo: YouTube

Premier Doug Ford told reporters he had received no information on the recent announcement that UberEats would be delivering alcohol products for Ontario’s Liquor Control Board (LCBO).

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Ford admitted in answer to a reporter’s question at a lengthy press conference on January 11th.

“I’ll have to give a call over to the LCBO and see what they’re up to.”

The news that UberEats would be delivering LCBO products blindsided both the restaurant and Taxi industries in Toronto. Although Taxi News has been unable to locate any press release or statement by Uber or the LCBO on the topic, media outlets including CTV and CP24 received “statements” from Uber announcing the news.

“Uber Eats spokesperson Keerthana Rang confirmed the platform has ‘expanded the number of merchants offering alcohol in the past several weeks’ in a statement to CTV News Toronto,” reported CP24. There is no information on this among Uber’s posted press releases.

A search for media releases on the LCBO website January 12 yielded only this. Image: LCBO

The LCBO’s website, meanwhile, is experiencing technical difficulties.

Toronto restauranteur Cindy Stern of Bistro on Avenue Road and Beck Taxi Operations Manager Kristine Hubbard joined forces on a media blitz to comment on the UberEats/LCBO news, which comes as a surprise not only to Premier Doug Ford, but also to parents concerned about the potential for teen-agers to order bottles of alcohol delivered by UberEats.

“The LCBO can send a bottle of booze without any food with it while Cindy and Bistro on Avenue are required to send that with food,” Hubbard told Alex Pierson on Radio640 January 9th.

“I do find it really, really disheartening, because we share a lot of the rhetoric: ‘Support local, shop local.’ We have all these provincial hashtags and municipal hashtags, but the reality is, there’s just never anything behind it.

“The advertisement should be ‘Hey, shop locally at places like Avenue Road Bistro, you’ll have your booze or food delivered by one of our local Taxi companies,” Hubbard suggests. “But instead, it’s like, ‘Uber and Lyft are here. They can do it.’ So, you know, it’s almost advertising for them. We don’t get that kind of promotion.”

Stern confirmed that according to current Ontario law, restaurants cannot send alcohol without a food order, and cannot compete on price with the LCBO. Asked what she would say to Doug Ford on this plan, she said,

“First of all, don’t rush into these things. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of thought processes put into it. They say “we’re just doing a pilot project;” we all know, it’s not a pilot project. It’s a done deal.

“If it is moving forward, sit down and talk with us. And let’s get some proper regulations in place and let us be competitive. That’s all I’m asking for. Come to the table, and let’s see what we can do.”