FROM THE HILL: NDP MP Richard Cannings introduces a beer bill that makes sense
As the cost of gas, groceries and housing continues to rise, NDP MP Richard Cannings wants to make it a bit easier at the end of the day to enjoy a cold beer. Cannings’ new Bill C— is proposing to eliminate the federal excise tax on low-alcoholic beer.
“An error was made and the result is that Canada doesn’t treat all low-alcohol beverages equally” said Cannings referencing that low alcohol wine and spirits are not subject to the tax while beer with a 0.5% alcohol by volume level or below is. “Just like the other low-alcohol choices we find in grocery stores, low-alcohol beer is a health-conscious and increasingly popular choice that we should not deter” noted Cannings.
Cannings, who is the NDP’s Critic for Small Business and Tourism also pointed out that Canada’s trading partners do not collect excise duties on non-alcohol beer. “As someone from what the Lonely Planet has dubbed the ‘Craft Beer Capital of Canada’ and I am encouraged that fixing this error would likely help expand domestic production of low-alcohol beer.”
Canada’s beer industry agrees. Luke Chapman, Vice President of Beer Canada whose members collectively represent 90% of the beer produces in Canada point out that “Canada is the only country we’re aware of that currently applies an excise tax on non-alcohol beer. Canadians might not know this but brewing high quality low and no-alcohol beer is a complex and costly process. Fixing this issue will send a positive signal to the industry and over the long-term has the potential to improve the selection of no and low-alcohol beer options available to consumers. We thank Mr. Cannings’ and his NDP colleagues support for the Canadian beer industry, and the 149,000 Canadians whose jobs are supported by beer.”
In 2020, the federal government collected an estimated $1.1 million in excise tax on low-alcohol beer sales. Justification for alcohol and other taxes include reasoning that the government revenue generated helps Canadians. But as Cannings points out, “for the sake of industry and Canadian consumers, government should offer consistent and logical policy across this sector. The removal of the excise tax on low-alcohol beer should be a welcome and easy fix.”
Cannings’ bill aims to quickly correct the excise tax inconsistency with hopes of the government including it in its budget implementation act in the coming weeks.