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Ontario craft brewers call for fewer taxes, sped-up review

TORONTO — Ontario craft brewers say the province needs to speed up a review of alcohol taxes because the current system is “stifling” the industry and could lead to breweries closing.

The president of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association says in submissions for the provincial spring budget that the group welcomes the recent announcement that sales of beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails will be expanded to convenience stores by 2026.

However, Scott Simmons says that if the current tax structure remains in place until then, there may be fewer local breweries to take advantage of the new marketplace.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy has promised a review of alcohol support programs, taxes and fees as part of the implementation of the new system, but Simmons wants to see changes in this upcoming budget.

He says Ontario has the highest craft beer taxes in Canada, and if changes are made – such as removing a roughly nine-cent tax on beer cans – it will help the industry grow.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance said he could not comment on what may or may not be in the budget, but said the government has been “committed to increasing choice and convenience for consumers and providing opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive in a vibrant alcohol retail marketplace.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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