Economy

Unveiling of provincial buck a beer scheme expected today

Unveiling of provincial buck a beer scheme expected today

The opposition leader also questioned why Ford is cutting planned welfare rate hikes and the basic income pilot project and focusing on buck-a-beer.

The Progressive Conservative plan will lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer with an alcohol volume below 5.6 per cent to $1 from $1.25 starting August 27 - a few days before the Labour Day weekend. "The margins keep getting tighter and tighter and you want to invest in your company, to grow and create more jobs".

The program will see the government-set minimum price of beer drop from $1.25 to $1.00 before tax and deposit.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a return to "buck-a-beer" in the province this week.

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While that sounds insanely cheap, note that for the last 10 years, the minimum price for beer was only $1.25.

The Conservatives have said a return to buck a beer would see more competition in the beer market without affecting the province's revenues from beer and wine taxes, which the provincial government has said brought in $589 million in 2016-2017.

"A lot has changed, not the least of which is the cost of ingredients to make the product, the cost of labour", said Simmons.

There is a caveat, however, as the reduction in price only applies to beer under 5.6 per cent alcohol content, and participation is not mandatory, Ford said. "I don't know if his plan was to make the breweries look greedy or just to underscore his populist direction, but it is ridiculous", he said, adding the move ignores the shift towards more complex and well-crafted beer. It's up to brewers to actually pass down the savings of $1 beer to consumers.

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In the meantime, there are already plenty of beers that sell for cheap in Ontario. "I just don't think this is something our membership would ever entertain", Mr. Simmons said.

A number of other breweries, including Great Lakes Brewery, Muskoka Brewery and The Napanee Beer Co., voiced frustration with the initiative and vowed that they wouldn't participate. Barley Days Brewery, where Mr. Ford made his announcement, is buying new equipment and preparing to triple its capacity for the launch of a $1 lager ahead of Labour Day.

The move will have no effect on the province's almost $600-million in revenue from beer and alcohol taxes, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said.

"Don't expect us to get involved in this", Mr. Burtch said. "The premier is asking beer producers to lower their prices down to a dollar".

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