Iqaluit store accounts for two-thirds of liquor commission’s sales: report

Cannabis sales lower than expected

Iqaluit’s beer and wine store accounts for two-thirds of the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission’s total sales for 2018-19. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

The Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission collected a total of $16.1 million in revenues for 2018-19, according to its most recent annual report.

Iqaluit’s beer and wine store, which opened in 2017 as a three-year pilot project, accounted for 67 per cent of those sales.

The beer and wine store also sold almost one million litres of beer and wine during that period.

And $10.39 million in beer was sold in the territory last year, 94 per cent of which was domestic beer.

There were also several changes made to the store’s operations in 2018, including changes to the daily limits for customers. Originally, customers were allowed to purchase up to 12 bottles or cans of beer and two bottles of wine each day.

Now, there is a six beers to one bottle of wine ratio. That means 24 beers or four bottles of wine per person per day. That could be combined to make 18 beers and one bottle of wine, or 12 beers and two bottles of wine, or six beers and three bottles of wine.

Both Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet held plebiscites in 2017 on opening a store in their communities. Both communities voted in favour of opening stores, with 83.1 per cent in favour in Cambridge Bay and 74.6 per cent in Rankin Inlet.

“The GN and NULC are aware of these communities’ interest but—as of March 2019—had not made plans to open additional stores given the Iqaluit store is just halfway through its pilot,” the report states.

Nunavut’s first brewery, the Nunavut Brewing Company, opened in Iqaluit in 2018. To support the new brewery, the commission changed its pricing scheme so customers are charged less for NuBrew products.

“By reducing general mark-ups on small breweries and by recognizing the local advantage of delivering directly to the warehouse, the NULC charges mark-ups and fees of $1.60/litre less on NuBrew beer than on other beer (about $18.16 less per 24 pack). This helps the brewery take home more from their sales,” the report states.

The commission returned $4.5 million in profits to the Government of Nunavut, the report states.

Inuit employment within the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission was at 79 per cent in March, with 19 Inuit employees out of 24 total, the report states.

Territory’s cannabis sales lower than expected

The federal government legalized cannabis in Canada in Oct. 2018.

As of spring 2019, Nunavummiut aged 19 and up can buy cannabis online only through two agents of the commission: Canopy Growth Corp. and AgMedica Bioscience Inc., according to the report.

For each gram of cannabis sold in Nunavut by the commission’s agents, the commission earned a markup of $4.

But cannabis sales have been far lower than originally anticipated for the five and a half month’s worth of sales in 2018-19, totalling 6.6 kilograms, the report states. The commission earned about $27,000 in markups from those sales.

“With persistent supply challenges across the country, it has been a challenge to attract agents to dedicate their resources in Nunavut’s relatively small market. These challenges were amplified by Nunavut’s online-only model which required agents to have their own sales portal, and by Nunavut’s language laws,” the report states.

Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for regulating privately owned retail sales in the territory.

“Even when retail stores are up and running in Nunavut, the NULC plans to continue with our current online model to ensure that all Nunavummiut of legal age have access to legally sourced cannabis,” the report states.

Community impacts

As part of the Iqaluit beer and wine store pilot project, the GN monitors impacts on the community through the Department of Finance’s Beer and Wine Store Monitoring Working Group.

The Department of Health, the City of Iqaluit and the Department of Family Services noted no significant impacts from the store’s opening.

The Department of Family Services did, however, indicate it had “heard anecdotal reports from shelters that there is an increase in drinking among their clients.”

The RCMP reported a “marginal rise in alcohol-related police files since 2017 but that the increase does not reflect a significant change.”

The Nunavut Housing Corp. noted “an increase in tenant damages to public housing units and GN staff housing units since the opening of the store.” NHC has not provided data to the commission related to damages before and after the opening of the store, the report states.

Last year, the commission spent $519,000, or 11 per cent of its revenue, on social responsibility campaigns, the report notes.

The commission’s Let’s Be Aware/Ujjiqsuqta campaign promotes socially responsible messaging through social media, community visits, training sessions and more to help reduce the potential harms caused by alcohol.

The commission also conducted a survey at the Iqaluit store in 2018, which was completed by 787 people.

While the report only offers a snapshot of the survey’s results, it notes that 43 per cent of people felt the store had a positive impact on them, while 41 per cent said it had a negative impact.

In terms of the store’s impact on the community, 32 per cent said it had a positive impact and 28 per cent said it had a negative impact.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Eye rolling citizen on

    The government should be ashamed to be making these kind of profits .
    When people are loaded drunk and no one wants them, they have no place to go but jail. No help what so ever. Where’s the damp shelter? Why isn’t there money for that? Where is the common sense of government priorities? Too many people with alcohol issues here. The amount should NEVER been doubled. Now look at the mess.

    • Posted by John K on

      What mess? I live downtown and the view from my balcony has improved a lot. No more fights in the street, no more having my car peed on.

  2. Posted by Frozen inuk on

    Pot sales are down cause people are realizing there are better options of ordering pot then going through the gn suppliers at half the cost

  3. Posted by Statsguy on

    many people in iqaluit turn towards beer store because there limit of beer from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday evening
    A lot of increase since 2017
    Sad to say some other people suicide due to alcohol related in iqaluit
    Murder has slightly increase
    Domestic violence increase
    Poverty increase
    Littering of beer cans or smashed bottles around the city Increase
    GN is really ignoring the real fact because they don’t care about people, they are focusing on their profits shame on you GN

  4. Posted by Fred on

    Open the stores in Cambridge Bay and Rankin already! And let them sell legal weed too just like the liquor store in Yellowknife, let our communities be the “pilot project” for that system. When the GN held the plebiscites they made no mention of waiting for any three year pilot project to be completed before any more could open in Nunavut. Let’s get on with GN!

  5. Posted by Concerned Inuk on

    The GN is pushing to sell beer and wine in Nunavut, while at the same time it will not be opening an alcohol and drug treatment centre in Nunavut for another five years. How many of Nunavut’s suicides happened when alcohol wasn’t a factor?

    It also wasted money to hold plebiscites in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet to know if residents wanted beer and wine stores in their communities – wasted money because it currently has no plans to open beer and wine stores in those communities, so why even hold plebiscites?

    Additionally, how can the GN conduct plebiscites to open beer and wine stores outside of Iqaluit when the pilot project in Iqaluit is still in progress and its results can’t be evaluated yet?

    This is called unable to establish priorities, understand cause and effect, know what a critical path is in project management, and simple downright incompetence!

  6. Posted by akalik on

    nobody should be drinking 24 beers a day or, or the equivalent wine. Ridiculous and profit-driven

    • Posted by Daily Limits on

      A purchase limit of 24 beer does not mean people drink 24 beer in a single day. It is ridiculous to make people come back multiple times to get the amount they want. The system is designed for the few people who can’t handle the pro

      We should be treated like adults and limits should be removed completely.

  7. Posted by Iqaluit local on

    Im from Iqaluit and I like the beer and wine store

  8. Posted by Bert Rose on

    “The Department of Health, the City of Iqaluit and the Department of Family Services noted no significant impacts from the store’s opening.”
    This is an outrageous statement . I do not know who is counting or how the counting is being done but I believe there is more public drunkness, more violence in homes, more crime from drunks and definitely more social ills as a result of this kind of statement .
    It is NOT okay ot consume nearly a million cans of beer and wine across Nunavut.
    What a smoke and mirrors story this story tells –

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