Media Releases

More Quebecers Support Privatizing the Sale of Alcohol

Montreal, February 18, 2006 – A Léger Marketing poll commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) reveals that in less than five months – between September 2005 and February 2006 – support for the privatization of alcohol sales has increased by one third among Quebecers, rising from 30% to 41%.

“The wine price-fixing scandal, recently revealed by La Presse, and the ensuing public debate appear to have had a notable impact on Quebecers’ attitudes towards the SAQ,” said Valentin Petkantchin, Director of Research at the MEI.

Prices and service

An increasing number of Quebecers believe that privatizing the sale of alcohol would result in lower prices for alcoholic beverages – 40% compared to 30% in September 2005. This opinion is widespread among Quebecers with an annual income greater than $80,000 (52%) and who have a university level education (50%).

The number of Quebecers who believe that privatization would result in improved service has also increased in the last five months, from 26% to 32%. This opinion is more widespread among non-Francophones (44%), those with a university level education (39%), and those between the ages of 35 and 44 (38%).

Ready for competition

While Quebecers’ support of the SAQ’s monopoly is decreasing, the survey results show a certain attachment by Quebecers towards the state-owned agency.

Valentin Petkantchin suggests that full competition in the alcohol trade could begin with gradual reform. The SAQ could remain a state-owned agency but the government would allow current and new retailers, such as grocers, to offer Quebec consumers the full range of SAQ products. Quebecers could thus compare the performance of private retailers to SAQ branches.

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted between February 8 and 12 among 1004 Quebecers. Results were weighted according to region, gender, age, and spoken language at home according to statistics obtained during the 2001 census. The margin of error is 3.1% at a confidence interval of 95%. The results of this survey were compared to those obtained in September 2005; the methodological parameters were the same in both.

Detailed survey results are available in English and French on the Institute’s Web site.

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Requests for interviews : Valentin Petkantchin, Research Director, Montreal Economic Institute, at (514) 571-6400.

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