While people may see different types of licenses as a way for the government to generate revenue, governments see them as ways of ensuring the safety of the general population. The truth is, the many licenses we as Canadians have to apply for are a little bit of both. You wouldn't want to go to a botox clinic that didn't have approval to operate in the form of a medical license, because that could be very bad for your health.
Liquor licenses are one type of license which serves both to generate money for government coffers as well as to help public safety. A major aspect of food public relations in the 1990s was whether or not an establishment was responsible for patrons who drank and then drove. With the courts deciding that they were, it was a whole new ball game for the food industry. It highlighted the importance of having responsible proprietorship, something which is encouraged during the liquor license application process.
Each province has its own procedure for applying for a liquor license, and different bodies oversee the process. However, they generally apply to every business which is planning to sell or serve liquor for the purposes of making money. That means even if you are a non profit organization, which does not regularly sell beer, you still have to apply for a license during special occasions. A hockey tournament which includes rink parties, for example, will need a license if the organizers want to serve alcohol.
Those are special types of liquor licenses, though, which more often than not do not include the full fee. For businesses looking to sell liquor on a regular basis, an extensive application process and some large fees are required. The fees are the same across the country, no matter what type of business you are. For example, a liquor store would have to pay the same amount as a chef for hire who serves his own liquor. The actual money may change from one province to the next, however.
The good news for liquor sellers is that renewal fees are much less than the original license fees; in many cases half or less the first fee you pay. That's a real deal considering a auto body shop will have to pay the same amount or more every year in order to stay in business!