By STEVE KLEIN and ANNE MUNROBERGAssociated PressIt’s been a busy week in Canada, with both Ontario and Alberta winning bids to limit the sale of craft beer to alcohol.
On Wednesday, the province announced a new excise tax of 15 per cent on small breweries, with the Ontario government also moving forward with a 15 per of sales levy for alcohol, while the federal government has announced a 12 per cent excise tax on beer.
The provincial and federal governments have set aside $10 billion for beer and wine taxes over the next four years.
The province of Alberta, which had the largest craft beer industry in Canada in 2015, is the only province that’s still taxing the craft beer sector.
In Ontario, the provincial government is also making progress in reducing alcohol taxes, as the province is now taxing less beer, wine and spirits, with a tax on sales of wine and liquor at 25 cents a litre.
In addition to the 15 per per cent tax on small brewers, the government is targeting small producers of cider, rum and spirits at 5 per cent, while introducing a 2.5 per cent wine tax.
Ontario is also targeting craft beer as it seeks to keep up with the competition in the province, with new taxes on beer, cider and spirits set to go into effect Jan. 1.
Ontarians will now have to pay sales tax on craft beer at 15 per cents.
Ontario is also considering a tax of 6 per cent for wine and 6.5 percent for spirits.
Ontarian Finance Minister Charles Sousa said that Ontario would also consider introducing a tax for cider in the coming year, which will bring in about $1 billion a year for the province.
In an interview with CBC Radio’s The House, Soussa said he believes the current situation is “too much” and the province needs to consider a more balanced approach.
“We’re not looking at that [tax] right now, we’re looking at a better approach to tax,” he said.
“There’s no need for a tax at all.”
Alberta’s move is part of a broader trend of government making moves to try to reduce the tax burden for consumers, as craft beer has grown in popularity.
The Alberta government also announced it will no longer allow non-perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts to be sold in grocery stores.
This move will also help ensure that alcohol does not cost consumers more in the long run.
Alberta is also working to reduce tobacco sales.
The province’s plan to ban tobacco in grocery store shelves by 2019 will also reduce tobacco consumption in the store.
A similar proposal was announced in Ontario, which is also expected to implement a similar ban by 2020.
Sousa added that Alberta is also looking at ways to lower alcohol prices in the retail and restaurants sectors, with Ontario considering a plan to impose a 3 per cent tobacco tax on liquor stores.
“The Ontario government has been making good progress, particularly on the issue of alcohol pricing, but we know that it will take more work and will take a lot of time to get there,” Sousasaid.