About liquor in Saskatchewan
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is responsible for the distribution and regulation of liquor products across the province, and is committed to promoting social responsibility and public safety in liquor activities. Liquor is retailed in Saskatchewan through a private detail system.
SLGA warehouses and distributes most alcohol and regulates the sale and service of alcohol in the province with oversight of establishments that serve and/or retail alcohol. The Liquor Wholesale and Distribution Division (LWDD) is responsible for the product selection, procurement, and distribution of all products sold in the Saskatchewan market.
Through Saskatchewan’s private retail model, introduced in October 2016, consumers enjoy competitive prices and an expanded product selection. There are currently around 650 retail liquor permittees operating in Saskatchewan. As of November 2023, there are over 68 liquor manufacturers licensed to operate in Saskatchewan, including breweries, distilleries and refreshment beverage manufacturers (i.e., coolers and ready-to-drink beverages).
Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) regulates the gaming, liquor and cannabis industries in Saskatchewan. SLGA:
- administers and enforces The Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act, 1997 and The Alcohol Control Regulations, 2016;
- reviews permit and endorsement applications and renewals;
- issues permits and endorsements;
- inspects establishments and enforces terms and conditions, regulations, and legislation respecting the operation of establishments; and
- educates permittees about regulatory requirements for the purpose of preventing violations in establishments.
For more information about Saskatchewan’s liquor market, visit https://www.slga.com/liquor.
How do I introduce new products into Saskatchewan?
SLGA uses a structured approach when considering and reviewing applications for product listings. Each month the Category Management team posts call-out details on the Supplier section of the website, including the specific products that will be considered to complement and help grow the category. Applications for products that do not fit the call-out may be reviewed; however, the primary focus will be on the products meeting the specifics of the call-out.
The application process varies based on the type of listing being sought. Suppliers can contact (306)787-4236 or email [email protected] for further information.
Are there other ways to introduce products into Saskatchewan other than through SLGA’s Distribution Centre?
Yes. Retailers can request product(s) not currently available in SLGA’s Distribution Centre through SLGA’s special order process. If the product supplier is willing to send the product to Saskatchewan, SLGA will purchase the product for the retailer and add it to the next available shipment for that retailer once the product is received in the Distribution Centre.
If a manufacturer or supplier wants to enter the Saskatchewan market, that company may market their product to retailers and suggest the retailer request the manufacturer or supplier’s product through SLGA’s special order process.
Additionally, specialty liquor warehouses located in Saskatchewan are authorized to store and distribute beverage alcohol in Saskatchewan. These warehouses can stock any products that are not part of SLGA’s core listings.
Do I need a registered liquor agent to represent me?
SLGA does not currently require agents to be registered/licensed to do business in Saskatchewan. If a product is accepted for listing, the agent is required to submit a Letter of Authorization from the manufacturer stating the agent is approved to represent the product(s) in Saskatchewan.
Product Life-Cycle at SLGA
- Agent/supplier submits a listing application.
- SLGA evaluates the product and approves or declines the application.
- If approved, SLGA sets up the product in the systems and places a purchase order.
- Product is received at the Distribution Centre (DC).
- SLGA makes the product available for RSPs to order.
- SLGA evaluates the product during the corresponding listing call, leaving as Core or delisting as appropriate.
Labelling and packaging requirements
What are the labelling and packaging requirements in Saskatchewan?
All liquor products sold in Saskatchewan must meet Canadian labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages and be in safe containers and packaging. Additionally, labelling information should be bold and legible and key information (the Common Name, Net Quantity, Alcoholic Strength and Country of Origin) must appear in a single field of vision. Further details are available in the SLGA Purchasing Packaging and Transportation Standards manual.
Laboratory testing requirements
What are the laboratory testing requirements in Saskatchewan?
All Core and Conditional products distributed through the SLGA DC must have a valid Certificate of Analysis (CoA). The CoA must be from a laboratory acceptable to SLGA. Products selected for new listings will not be ordered by SLGA Purchasing until agents/suppliers provide a valid CoA; and in the prolonged absence of a CoA, SLGA reserves the right to deny the product listing. CoAs must be updated every 24 months, at a minimum.
On request by SLGA, the manufacturer shall provide product samples to SLGA for purposes of independent testing in a duly-recognized laboratory for quality assurance purposes. Manufacturers are responsible for the costs of quality assurance testing.
Manufacturers interested in selling through the SLGA warehouse should contact SLGA Liquor Wholesale and Distribution Division at [email protected] for details of the applicable SLGA Quality Assurance policy.
What components make up the price of liquor in Saskatchewan?
Several components make up the price of liquor sold in Saskatchewan.
- Liquor manufacturers (or their agents) provide a vendor quote, the unit cost of which is called the Prime Cost.
- From the Prime Cost, SLGA creates a wholesale price. The wholesale price includes:
- Environmental surcharge and refundable container deposits;
- Freight rate and cost of service (for products distributed by SLGA warehouses);
- SLGA markup; and
- Federal customs and excise duties (as applicable) and the GST.
- Liquor retailers may purchase products from the SLGA Warehouse at the wholesale price or negotiate prices with private warehouses.
- All liquor retailers are free to price their products as they determine appropriate for their business, subject to social reference pricing.
For more information, see the SLGA Wholesale Pricing Structure and Policy Manual.
Sales channels and distribution
How does the sale and distribution of liquor products work in Saskatchewan?
There are approximately 650 liquor retailers in Saskatchewan that sell alcohol for off-premise consumption. Retailers include large standalone operations in larger centres, smaller businesses integrated within an unrelated business in rural communities and others that operate in conjunction with a liquor-permitted restaurant, hotel beverage room, brew pub, etc. All retailers in Saskatchewan are non-government owned and operated.
Retail store permittees (RSPs) in Saskatchewan can purchase alcohol at wholesale prices through SLGA’s Distribution Centre or from specialty liquor warehouses. All RSPs operate under the same set of rules and regulations and pay the same wholesale price for alcohol purchased from SLGA’s distribution centre or specialty liquor warehouses. Retailers are also subject to the same rules when it comes to product selection, ability to sell chilled products, ability to establish operating hours, and the ability to set their own prices. The Product Ordering Guide for Retail Store Permittees outlines the processes for ordering wholesale products from SLGA and authorized private beer distributors.
For more information, see SLGA’s information for Liquor Suppliers.
Marketing and promotion policies
What are the rules for the marketing and promotion of liquor products in Saskatchewan?
Beverage alcohol advertising and promotion standards apply to any promotion of the sale or consumption of beverage alcohol in Saskatchewan. The advertising standards set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the “Code of Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages” are applied by SLGA to beverage advertising taking place in any medium in Saskatchewan. Other municipal, provincial and federal standards may also apply.
SLGA provides the following guidelines to permittees, promotion companies, media, and others who may be involved in the promotion of beverage alcohol in Saskatchewan. SLGA also recommends consulting legal counsel for greater clarity on compliance with CRTC Standards.
For more information, see SLGA’s Beverage Alcohol Advertising Standards.
Do I need a liquor permit to sell liquor in Saskatchewan?
Yes, to sell or supply liquor in Saskatchewan, you must have a liquor permit. Types of permits:
Commercial Liquor Permits
- Restaurant Permit – where the primary business is the preparation and sale of food for consumption on the premises.
- Tavern Permit – where the primary purpose is the sale of beverage alcohol for the consumption on the premises. Establishments in this category include taverns and brew pubs.
- Special Use Permit – for sale and consumption of liquor at recreational, sport, social or entertainment facilities (e.g. private clubs, billiard halls, sports arenas, theatres) or on public transportation (e.g. charter buses or limousines). May also be used for home delivery of beverage alcohol.
- Manufacturer Permit – where the primary purpose of a proposed establishment is the manufacture of beverage alcohol. Establishments in this category include breweries, distilleries, wineries, and brew pubs.
- U-Brew/U-Vin Operation Permit – where use of the facility, ingredients and services are provided to persons for the purpose of manufacturing beer, wine, cider or coolers for personal consumption in a private place.
- Direct to Consumer Delivery Permit – where the primary purpose of a proposed permittee is the delivery of approved beverage alcohol from an authorized Canadian jurisdiction directly to an individual for personal consumption at a private place.
- Retail Store Permit – where the primary purpose of a proposed permittee is the sale of beverage alcohol in closed containers for consumption off-site. Establishments in this category include standalone, integrated and transitional retail stores.
Special Occasion Permits
(SOPs) are required for anyone selling alcohol, or serving alcohol at an event that is not held in a commercially permitted establishment, an occupied private residence, or another private place. This applies to private, invitation only events as well as to public events.
- Non-sale permits – for private, invitation-only functions where alcohol is being provided at no charge to the guests. Typically, non-sale permits are used for staff parties, weddings, reunions and various family functions.
- Cost-recovery permit – authorizes the sale of alcohol at a price sufficient to recover the costs of providing beverage alcohol service at the event. These permits are available only for private family celebrations and events, such as pre-wedding socials or anniversaries, must be open to invited guests only, and cannot be publicly advertised.
- Sale permits – for public or private events where the event host sets the price charged for beverage alcohol. Typically, sale permits are used for charitable fundraisers and community events.
For more information, visit SLGA’s liquor permits and licences page.
How do I obtain a liquor permit?
To obtain a liquor permit, contact the Licensing Branch of SLGA at 1(800) 667-7565 or (306)787-5563 in Regina or email: [email protected] and be prepared to provide the following information:
- The type of operation for the proposed establishment;
- The location of the proposed establishment;
- Whether the establishment is currently operating under a liquor permit, and if so, whether the same type of operation is to be continued; and
- The name of the applicant (e.g. corporate name if permit is to be issued to a corporation, partnership name if issued to a partnership, etc.).
Additional supporting documents will be required. For more information on the requirements for each type of permit and the steps to apply, visit SLGA’s Commercial Liquor Licensing page.
Relevant legislation, regulations and policies
What rules apply to me?
All activities related to the sale, consumption, importation, manufacture, possession, distribution and use of liquor in the Saskatchewan must be undertaken in accordance with The Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act, 1997, The Alcohol Control Regulations, 2016 and SLGA’s policies.
SLGA’s Permits and Licenses page provides information on permit policies and guidelines.
Whom can I contact for more information?
If you have any questions or would like more information, you can contact SLGA at [email protected].