Ontario Government Bringing Back “Buck-a-Beer” Minimum Pricing

TORONTO, ON – The Government of Ontario has announced that it will be rolling back the minimum retail price for a standard 341 ml bottle or 355 ml can of beer to $1 from the current $1.25 as of August 27th, keeping a campaign promise made by Premier Doug Ford earlier this year.

Leaked details of the legislation were reported over the weekend by the Canadian Press, and confirmed at a press conference held this morning at Barley Days Brewery in Picton, with Finance Minister Vic Fideli, Government House Leader Todd Smith, the Premier on hand for the announcement. It was also confirmed that new minimum price will be allowed for beers at a strength of 5.6% abv and lower, and it will not apply to draught product.

Colloquially known as “buck-a-beer,” the $1 minimum was in place from 2005 to 2008, and several discount brands were offered at that price point before the Liberal government began raising the floor price, citing “social responsibility” as the reason for the increase.

CTV News reports that breweries selling beer at $1 per bottle or can will receive no tax breaks or other direct financial support, but will be offered “lucrative incentives including prime shelf space and free advertising with the LCBO [and] other enticements [that] may include limited product discounts and in-flyer LCBO promotions.”

Barely Days Brewery has announced that it will be launching a new beer called Loon Lager at the “buck-a-beer” price point, with a promise that it is “not going to compromise” on quality. But other Ontario craft breweries have made it clear that they have no intention to take part in the program, with Great Lakes Brewery posting on Twitter that they “believe in our brands, take pride in our quality and firmly feel that are current prices are very fair,” and Hometown Brew Co. stating that they value “quality & sustainability above all else.”

For more details, see the news articles linked above, and the full news release from the Government of Ontario.

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