Nearly $4 million in liquor sales go to Nunavut government in 2020-21

·3 min read
Sales of alcohol and cannabis by the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission generated revenues of almost $4 million for the territorial government.  (Trevor Brine/CBC - image credit)
Sales of alcohol and cannabis by the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission generated revenues of almost $4 million for the territorial government. (Trevor Brine/CBC - image credit)

Alcohol sales aren't insignificant to the Nunavut government: in 2020-21, the profits from the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission generated nearly $4 million for the territorial government.

Those profits came from nearly $17 million worth of alcohol and about $100,000 worth of cannabis sold by the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NULC) from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Of those sales, $8 out of $10 came from the Iqaluit beer wine store.

In all, the annual profits of $3.7 million from sales of 1.6 million litres of alcohol and a small amount of cannabis went to the territorial government.

That's according to its annual report for 2020-2021, tabled last week in the Nunavut legislature.

Vodka sales top community orders, again

As was the case in 2019-20, vodka sales accounted for most of the revenue from community orders to the NULC.

Overall in Nunavut, $10.4 million worth of beer was sold in 2020-2021. That amounted to 1,355,800 litres or more than 3.82 million cans sold (about 100 cans for every person in the territory.) Most of that was sold at the Iqaluit beer and wine store.

The favourite beers were:

  • Budweiser: 1,148,994 cans (32 per cent of the market).

  • Molson Dry: 793,180 cans (22 per cent of the market).

  • Molson Canadian: 377,119 cans (11 per cent of the market).

  • Alexander Keith's: 174,108 cans (six per cent of the market).

  • Stella Artois: 106,002 cans (three per cent of the market).

Ciders and coolers made up 6.3 per cent of total litres sold by the NULC.

Despite the robust sales, up 5.3 per cent over the previous year, hard alcohol sales declined by four per cent in 2019-2020, the NULC said. That, the commission added, shows its plan to promote lower-alcohol content beverages appears to be working.

But the NULC said COVID-19 closures limited the amount of social responsibility campaigns the commission was able complete in 2020-21.

To promote responsible alcohol consumption, the commission had set aside $100,000 for grants and contributions programs to support community-led initiatives. It had also advanced its plans to open a second storefront outlet in Rankin Inlet.

The store is currently in construction and slated to open in late 2021. The commission has begun to staff the nine new positions needed to open the store, though the plan is to hire most of the new team closer to when the store is ready to open in 2021-22.

As soon as the Rankin Inlet store is up and running, efforts will focus on opening a store in Cambridge Bay, which voted in favour of opening a local liquor outlet in 2017.

But, the commission said a Cambridge Bay store presents new challenges because, unlike in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, the community does not currently have staff, warehouses or offices.

Because of the community's smaller population, the commission said it would explore other operating models to ensure a store in Cambridge Bay is "viable."

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