Alberta Launching Alcohol Trade Challenge Against Ontario, Replacing Brewery Rebate Program with New Markup Structure

CALGARY, AB – The Government of Alberta is set to launch a trade challenge against Ontario under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement over policies that it says are discriminatory towards Alberta’s small brewers and other alcohol producers.

According to a media statement:

Alberta lists 3,700 products from other parts of Canada, including 745 from Ontario. By contrast, Ontario imports only about 20 Alberta products despite their market being three times as large. Meanwhile, Alberta products are readily sold in Japan, the United States and across the European Union.

The statement also notes that Alberta “maintains the most open liquor market in the country, with more than 20,000 liquor products available for purchase across the province.”

Also announced today was a new “universal small brewer markup” scheme that will go into effect on December 15th, taking over from the controversial Alberta Small Brewers Development Program (ASBDP) which was introduced  in 2016 but was ruled against by trade tribunals in 2017 and earlier this year.

Under the ASBDP, all beer sold in Alberta had a markup of $1.25 per litre applied regardless of the size and location of the brewery, but Alberta breweries were provided with a direct rebate that was scaled based on production volumes. The new scheme will feature a graduated markup of 10 to 60 cents per litre for all breweries in Alberta or elsewhere that produce less than 50,000 hectolitres annually, while those above that threshold will remain at the $1.25 markup level.

For more details, see the full announcement from the Government of Alberta.

Sources: CBC News and Government of Alberta

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