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PEC Chamber helps refresh alcohol reform policy

The Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce has been working with the Ontario Chamber to help refresh policy for alcohol reform in Ontario.

Since March, the PEC Chamber has been participating in the development of the Ontario Chamber Network’s Alcohol Report, Refreshing the Sale of Beverage Alcohol in Ontario.

The County hosted the Ontario Chamber for two days in May, including six round-table discussions at the Chamber office, with contributions to the report coming from more than 25 local businesses across all four beverage alcohol sectors in the County.

Lesley Lavender, PEC Chamber Executive Director

“Our guests from the OCC policy department were also delighted to have visited and toured 18 businesses, restaurants and sights in the County during their stay,” said Lesley Lavender, Executive Director of the PEC Chamber of Commerce.

She notes that with the end of the VQA Wine Support Program, the cancellation of the Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program, and the lack of funding geared toward promoting beverage alcohol tourism, the industry is at a critical juncture.

“We aim to encourage the province to take a comprehensive, rather than a piece-meal, approach to reform. Doing so would level the playing field and address existing inequities facing all four categories – wine, beer, spirits, and cider,” she said. “The province must work with all four categories, the LCBO, and public health officials to bring about reforms that benefit consumers, producers, and the province alike.”

Lavender said that by removing barriers and levelling the playing field, the province can unleash the potential of the beverage alcohol sector, support regional economic development, meet the needs of consumers while generating greater tax revenue to fund public services.

“The power of the beverage alcohol sector to be a force for economic growth extends beyond just the expected industries. The production, distribution, and sale of alcohol has a ripple effect that benefits agriculture, tourism and hospitality, and retail in all corners of the province.”

The Refreshing the Sale of Beverage Alcohol in Ontario report outlines how the province could modernize the sale and distribution of beverage alcohol and responsibly promote growth across all four categories – wine, beer, spirits, and cider.

“Ontarians want to see a more modern, convenient beverage alcohol retail system and we are closer than ever to substantive reforms to how alcohol is distributed, bought, and sold in Ontario,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

The report finds that, despite public support for modernization, reform is a more complex undertaking than it appears at first glance, due to the complexity of legislation and regulation involved.

“As the government proceeds with reforms to beverage alcohol sales, the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce and OCC underscore the need for a comprehensive approach to avoid perpetuating inequities in the taxation and regulation of wine, beer, cider, and spirits that limit growth.

The report’s recommendations include:

• Modernizing the sale of beverage alcohol by allowing beverage alcohol producers to sell their products on e-commerce marketplaces and platforms using third parties to process payments.
• Alleviating tax burdens by reducing taxes on Ontario wines, aligning taxation levels for craft cider with those of craft beer, and applying a graduated tax to the current spirits basic tax.
• Cutting red tape by reducing the reporting Ontario wineries and cideries have to complete from a monthly to quarterly basis, allowing Ontario spirits and craft beer producers with a retail store to sell their products at farmers’ markets, and providing airports with an exemption to allow for the sale of alcohol 24-hours-a-day.
• Removing antiquated inter-provincial trade barriers by allowing consumers to purchase alcohol online from other provinces/territories and producers to deliver these products to the consumer’s home.

Read the OCC’s report, Refreshing the Sale of Beverage Alcohol in Ontario by clicking here.

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