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Buck a beer by Labour Day weekend, Doug Ford announces

08 August 2018
Buck a beer by Labour Day weekend, Doug Ford announces

On Tuesday morning, Premier Doug Ford will be at the Barley Days Brewery in Picton to announce the new minimum price of a bottle or can of beer will be $1.

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 province's move to try and roll back prices at a time when the cost to produce beer is at an all-time high is puzzling to many across the province.

To encourage the province's breweries to lower their prices, Ford launched the 'Buck-a-Beer Challenge'. He also indicated there are no tax incentives involved and tax payers' money will not be used. Each type has a different audience, and the $1 beer price caters to just one of those audiences, he suggested. While some beer drinkers are happy with the possibility of paying less for their suds, others are criticizing Ford for what they believe to be misplaced priorities. "It's interesting that there is nobody at the $30 floor", said Scott Simmons, president of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association.

It will offer breweries who lower their prices promotional considerations like limited-time discounts, in-store displays or advertising in LCBO flyers and newspaper inserts.

Ford responded to such questions Tuesday, saying: "I think people in Ontario are mature enough ... to know when they've had one too many". "I honestly can't see how a brewer can pull that off", he said. "When you go out and you buy your case of beer for weekend, you're not going to be paying the same price; you're going to be paying less".

Taxes on alcohol sales in Canada have been steadily increasing for decades, with the most recent hike happening in April 2018 when the federal government raised taxes on local and imported beer by two per cent. "The margins are so tight".

Scott Simmons, president of the Ontario Craft Beer Association, told CBC Radio's All In A Day that craft beer has been the fastest growing category of beer in the province for a number of years. But it doesn't look like Ontario brewers are likely to take the challenge.

But many folks at the Beer Store today are in.

Even consumers don't seem to be overwhelmingly in support of the government's announcement.

The People's Pint, a brewery based in Toronto, said it would not be joining what it called a "race to the bottom" on Twitter.

"Our cheapest beer costs us about $1.40 to make, and that's just pure cost to make the beer".