CALGARY, AB – The government of Alberta is currently reviewing its options in the wake of a decision that its current mark-up and rebate structure for small breweries is in violation of inter-provincial trade rules.
Last Friday, a three-person panel representing the Agreement on Internal Trade ruled in favour of beer importer Artisan Ales who had filed a complaint over the beer markup structure implemented in Alberta in October 2015. The policy featured a graduated markup for breweries in the New West Partnership region (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan) that ranged from 10 cents to $1.25 per litre depending on the size of the brewery, while beer from outside of the region was subject to the $1.25 per litre rate regardless of brewery size.
The government subsequently changed the policy in July 2016, and implemented a standardized rate of $1.25 per litre for all beer sold in the province, regardless of the size or location of the brewery. However, this was quickly followed by the introduction a rebate program for Alberta’s small brewers that would essentially reduce their rates back to those in the previous structure.
In a 2-1 decision, the panel ruled that the government has six months to either repeal or amend the grant program. The government has the option to appeal the ruling, and a spokesman for Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says that he is “reviewing the decision and will have more to say in the coming days.”