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With federal alcohol tax set to increase, MPs advance bills to rein it in


The Conservative Party and the New Democrats are each focusing new private members’ bills on the rising cost of beverages – both alcoholic drinks and low-alcohol beer, specifically.

Conservative MP Pat Kelly would like to see both the Excise Act, and its newer model, the Excise Act, 2001, amended to repeal the automatic duty increase on alcohol at the same rate of inflation. Kelly is calling for that rate to be reset to pre-2018 levels, when the escalator was introduced.

He said the rising alcohol tax makes “having a beer with friends” unaffordable for most Canadians.

“It really is expensive just to go out for a simple dinner or to enjoy a night out with friends,” he said in an interview with

“When we’re in an inflation crisis, tying that tax to it is not going to help with affordability or competitiveness for our producers.”

Since 2017, excise duty rates on beer, wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages have increased automatically every year on April 1.

Kelly argues that, like other proposed tax changes, this one should be reviewed in Parliament each time there’s a move to increase it.

“They took that out of Parliament’s hands and just allowed this to automatically go up,” he said.

Meanwhile, NDP MP Richard Cannings argues the government should do away with the excise tax on low-alcohol beer – meaning beer with less than 0.5 per cent alcohol content.

“This fixes a curious anomaly in the Excise Act where low alcohol wine, low alcohol spirits are exempt from the excise tax but low-alcohol beer is not,” he said.

From a competitiveness standpoint, Cannings says this would align Canada with its major trading partners that haven’t applied the same tax on low-alcohol beer.

He also said it would give Canadians more choice in beverage options as consumption rates of non-alcoholic beer increase.

Cannings has a better shot of getting his private member’s bill through Parliament, as he’s higher up on the priority list.

The NDP MP said he’s had preliminary conversations with all three parties and believes there’s a “good chance” the bill will progress either through the government’s upcoming budget bill or a unanimous consent motion.

Beer Canada, present at the NDP’s press conference on Thursday, said in a statement to that this is the “wrong time” to add to the tax burden Canadian brewers, pubs, restaurants and consumers are facing.

“In Canada, 85 per cent of the beer sold here is made here. Like other agri-food businesses, Canadian brewers are facing nearly unprecedented inflationary cost increases and supply-chain disruptions,” said Luke Chapman, vice president of federal affairs.

“Beer Canada is encouraging members from all parties to support the elimination of excise duty on non-alcohol beer as well as the automatic annual increases to federal beer taxes.”




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