Alberta declares beer trade fight with Ontario over access to liquor stores

Posted : 11/28/2018

City News
By The Canadian Press
November 26, 2018

The Alberta government is opening a new front in the Canadian beer war by targeting Ontario for what it says are its unfair trade barriers to Alberta suds and other alcoholic products.

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous says Alberta is launching a formal trade challenge against Ontario over policies he says prevent Alberta manufacturers from accessing that much larger market.

He says Alberta’s private liquor stores sell 745 alcoholic beverages made in Ontario but the government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario lists only about 20 products made in Alberta.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the province will retreat on craft beer subsidies that were found by a judge to be unconstitutional last spring.

He says he will cancel by Dec. 15 Alberta’s program of grants for smaller Alberta craft brewers, to bring its beer regulations in compliance with Canadian trade law.

The province will return to a system similar to that in place before 2015, with markups of $1.25 per litre applied to all beer sold in Alberta by producers of more than 50,000 hectolitres per year. Smaller brewers, regardless of province of origin, are able to apply for markups of between 10 and 60 cents per litre.

“Alberta has the most open liquor policy in the country, offering Albertans a choice of over 3,700 Canadian products … Alberta merchants stock and sell 745 alcoholic beverages from Ontario,” said Bilous.

“Ontario is the largest market in the country, three times larger than our own, yet we can only find about 20 Alberta liquor products listed for sale in Ontario.”

The Canadian Press

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