About liquor in Alberta

How liquor is sold in Alberta

In Alberta we have a private liquor retail model.

Liquor retailing, warehousing and distribution are all managed by the private liquor industry. Registered suppliers and agents are responsible for ordering, consolidating, shipping, and marketing liquor.

The AGLC is the legal importer of record for liquor in Alberta. Manufacturers and suppliers sell liquor products to businesses (licensees) through the AGLC. Licensees then sell liquor products to consumers.

Privatization

In 1993, Alberta became the first Canadian province to privatize liquor retailing. This created an open and competitive market, giving businesses the opportunity to thrive. As a result, Albertans continue to enjoy competitive prices and great product selection.

Alberta continues to be the only fully-privatized province when it comes to liquor. The model is well received by both consumers and industry to this day.

AGLC's role

The AGLC administers and enforces the Gaming and Liquor Act (GLA) and Regulation (GLR). Our Board develops policy, conducts hearings, and makes licensing and registration decisions. The Board ensures the powers and duties of the AGLC are carried out.

The AGLC controls the importation, manufacture, sale, possession, storage, distribution, and use of liquor in Alberta. We establish and enforce liquor policies. We also licence businesses in which liquor is sold or consumed.

We pay liquor suppliers for their products after the product is sold to liquor licensees. We also collect the provincial liquor markup as well as any federal liquor taxes and levies. The revenue then flows to the General Revenue Fund for use in public programs.

Liquor markup

What is liquor markup?

The AGLC adds a markup to the liquor it sells to liquor licensees.The AGLC collects the markup on behalf of the government. The markup goes to the General Revenue Fund to support programs and initiatives that benefit all Albertans.

Liquor markup is applied as a flat rate per litre depending on the product type and alcohol content. Markup rates are established in policy and reviewed regularly.

You can find current markup rates in the Liquor Markup Schedule.

Who pays the markup?

The AGLC adds provincial markup, container deposit, recycling fees, and all federal duties and taxes to the invoice price. This becomes the wholesale price.

Liquor licensees then buy the product from the AGLC at the wholesale price. All licensees pay the same wholesale price for a liquor product. Retailers and licensees then determine their own product selection and pricing.

Liquor markup, and these other fees and taxes, are paid to the AGLC by the licensee when the liquor is purchased. Liquor manufacturers or their agents do not pay the markup.

To see more on how the cost of a product is determined click on our Journey of a Bottle diagram.

Where does the markup go?

Once all costs are deducted, the liquor revenue goes to the Government of Alberta’s General Revenue fund to be used for programs and services for all Albertans.

Legislation and handbooks

The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA) controls and restricts the movement of liquor from one province to another. It also controls liquor importation into Canada. The IILA gives provinces authority to control imports into their jurisdictions.

The responsibilities of the AGLC are set out in provincial legislation. These are the Gaming and Liquor Act (GLA) and Regulation (GLR).

AGLC policies about liquor can be found in the following handbooks:

Liquor studies and reports