A beer and wine store, approved by Rankin Inlet plebiscite voters in 2017, should open by mid-to-late summer, Finance Minister George HIckes says.
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The Government of Nunavut’s ransomware woes and Covid-19 have been obstacles to opening a beer and wine store in Rankin Inlet, but the operation should be in place early-to-mid-summer, Finance Minister George Hickes said in the legislative assembly on Wednesday.

Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay residents voted strongly in favour of establishing beer and wine stores in their communities in May 2017.

Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main asked what effects the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission is expecting the liquor outlet to have on neighbouring communities, some of which prohibit alcohol.

Hickes acknowledged that the beer and wine store will create another opportunity for criminals to smuggle alcohol into dry communities but “at the end of the day, that is still against the law, no matter where they’re purchasing the alcohol from.”

The minister added that “the first and foremost objective is to reduce the hard liquor consumption and the binge drinking habits that people need to work on their own personal lives.”

Main agreed that regardless of the source, bootlegging is still breaking the law, but he said it’s conceivable that the liquor retail location will lead to an increase in offences. He inquired as to the tracking that will occur to monitor impacts on outlying communities after the beer and wine store opens.

Hickes replied that the Department of Justice and the RCMP compile statistics on that level, as well as related impacts.

“We’ll absolutely be continuing to monitor that information,” he said.

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