Ontario to offer incentives to brewers in buck-a-beer plan

Ontario to offer incentives to brewers in buck-a-beer plan
Ontario to offer incentives to brewers in buck-a-beer plan

The Ontario government says it will offer “non-financial incentives” to brewers who sell their beer for $1 once the province’s buck-a-beer plan is in place later this month.

Premier Doug Ford said participating businesses will be offered prime spots in Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores or advertising in the store magazine’s inserts, among other possible rewards.

Speaking at a brewery in Picton, Ont., on Tuesday, the premier said the program, which was one of his promises during the spring election campaign, will not cost taxpayers anything.

“Promises made, promises kept,” Ford said.

The Progressive Conservative plan will lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from $1.25 starting Aug. 27 — a few days before the Labour Day weekend.

Brewers would not be required to charge less; however, and the lower minimum price would not apply to draft beer, nor would it include the bottle deposit.

The Tories have said a return to buck a beer would see more competition in the beer market without affecting the province’s revenues from beer and wine taxes, which government documents show brought in roughly $589 million in 2016-2017.

“You can’t go anywhere without people asking ‘when are you guys going to bring back buck a beer,’” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, who was on-hand for the announcement, said.

However, not everyone is toasting this proposal. In a statement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada said lowering the price of beer carries a risk to public safety, and can lead to an increase in alcohol-related problems including impaired driving.

“The impact extends beyond the price of a beer. There should not be any government tax incentives to reduce the cost of alcohol,” the statement went on to say.
Ontario previously had buck-a-bottle beer but the then-Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008, citing its “social responsibility” mandate.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said buck a beer should not be a priority for the government when Ontarians face so many issues.

“We have a premier that’s cutting income to the very poorest amongst us as a priority, and at the same time subsidizing buck a beer. It seems to me that his priorities are completely mixed up,” she said.

She also questioned the government’s viewpoint that this proposal doesn’t have financial incentives.

“These product placements, or advertisements in the Food & Drink magazine that the LCBO has, these things have monetary value,” Horwath said.

Ford has also vowed to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner and box stores in Ontario.