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Government pours $15 million into alcohol sector in transition

Ministers Smith and Hardeman tour with winery owner John Squair at Friday’s announcement.

The province is pouring $15 million into transition fund for the alcohol sector as it transitions to the government’s new rules.

Wineries, cideries and distilleries in the Quinte region are expected to benefit, said Bay of Quinte MP Todd Smith, who on Friday afternoon, welcomed Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman to Sophiasburgh’s Three Dog Winery to announce the funding.

He explained the funding will allow wineries, cideries, and distilleries to continue to grow and meet consumer demand while the government reviews programs supporting the sector.

“Prince Edward County’s burgeoning wine industry and craft beverage producers across the Quinte region have become tremendous drivers of economic development and tourism for this part of Ontario,” said Smith. “I’m pleased that Minister Hardeman has come through with this vital transitional funding while our government reviews additional measures to help this sector grow and thrive.”

Hardeman indicated the transition funding would also extend support to the following initiatives:

• The Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Wine Support Program to help Ontario wineries increase competitiveness and innovation. The program supports wineries investing in growing their VQA wine business, including tourism development activities.
• The Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program to help eligible businesses grow and scale up operations.
• Marketing, tourism and export development; performance measurement and research and development initiatives.

In addition to the funding, Hardeman noted the government is proposing further changes to cut red tape for the sector, making it easier for businesses to market their products by:
• Giving wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries with a “By the Glass” licence the flexibility to extend their service hours from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week.
• Allowing authorized wineries to sell their wine at farmers’ markets and return unsold products to their on-site retail store within a 72-hour period. The previous 24-hour period forced wineries to bring products back and forth over the course of the weekend, which made retailing at farmers’ markets not economically viable.

“Our government’s priority is to make Ontario more competitive, and this includes strengthening the craft producers’ sector,” said Hardeman. “By delivering these transition programs, we are recognizing the urgent needs of the industry and helping small- and medium-sized wineries, cideries, and distilleries scale up, drive tourism, and increase demand for quality Ontario grapes, apples and grains.”

The wine and grape sector contributes $515 million to Ontario’s GDP and supports more than 9,000 direct jobs.

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Healthcare and education have been the responsibility of both the federal and provincial governments to pay for – they have never been the responsibility of any municipality – other than funding equipment. My reasons for commenting on this article was due to seeing $15 million of provincial funding going towards wineries and breweries – when I believe that money should go towards healthcare and education. What this County cannot afford is to see provincial tax dollars go into private pockets while our schools are threatened with closures and county people are forced to go outside of PEC for healthcare. As we know this is happening now!

  2. Mark says:

    This Country cannot afford open Health Care or Education for all, free of charge. Wish we could, be a beautiful dream come true, but it it is not an economic reality.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    To Mark – after Canadians bailed out GM in 2008 with billions of $$ – give your line to the Oshawa GM workers now. They know first hand that public dollars went directly into private pockets – the same way that their pension plan did. Your simplistic belief is just that, it sounds good but it has never been proven to be true. What has been proven to be true is that countries with the higher level of education and better healthcare have been shown to have a higher standard of living than those with a privileged rich class with tax breaks. The “trickle down” theory for prosperity has been debunked years ago!

  4. Emily says:

    Fewer flu shots and interventions to keep persons alive in a nursing home bed would assist health care. Who wants to live 10 years in a diaper with little or no comprehensive for life.

  5. Mark says:

    Enhancing the the private sector improves our ability to fund education and health care.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    To ADJ – I understand your point, but the examples given are truly used by thousands of locals – and not for free. To use PEFAC for example – the public still need to pay to use the pool, etc.. and the members pay a monthly fee – and not a cheap one either. The municipality does give a grant of “about” $60K (I think) per year to PEFAC – not a bad deal when you think this community has no recreation dept or community pool. Other organizations like the ROC and The Regent are also used a great deal by the public – and I consider those public grants a true investment into the people of this community -plus none of them make a profit no where near what wineries and breweries make. In the case of this provincial grant to the “alcohol industry” it is a pure take the public’s money and run – to be placed in private pockets. I don’t see nor read about any benefit to the public in this one.

  7. ADJ says:

    To Dennis, I have to agree with your statement however how can we explain the local municipal “grants or financial assistance to groups like PEFAC, The Roc Centre, Regent theatre and probably more that regularly approach Council for funds? Tax dollars are collected for both Provincial and municipal governments but it’s felt more locally. Not considered as private businesses do they receive a tax bill? Granted they all have a purpose but when is enough “enough” ?

  8. Dennis Fox says:

    You are right Rita! I’m not against business, but I really don’t understand this idea of business claiming to be independent and private when they depend on and ask for public money to exist. Like any good business person, the public should be asking for shares and partial ownership for any business accepting public funding.

  9. Rita Johnson says:

    Reply to Dennis Fox: that’s easy. “Business good, social services bad” — that sums up the attitude of our present government.

  10. Dennis Fox says:

    As school boards and their employees have to negotiate in an atmosphere of cutbacks and fewer dollars – all done apparently to pay down the debt, how can the same provincial government justify giving a grant of $15 million of taxpayer dollars to private business?

    Isn’t it wonderful that the Ford government has their priorities so well established – support “buck-a-beer” and the alcohol industry – but cuts back on healthcare and education. Has anyone considered asking Ford why? I expect my tax dollars to be spent on far more worthwhile and important services than on wineries and breweries.

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