Ontario to offer incentives to brewers in buck a beer plan

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to roll out the provincial government's buck a beer plan when he visits a brewery early today in Picton, Ont. The slogan is reminiscent of old-fashioned saloons offering "free lunch" and the ultimate truth that there is none.

The move was one of Ford's promises during the spring election campaign.

Now in Ontario, one can only buy beer, wine and spirits at government licensed outlets or licensed restaurants and bars.

Simmons said his association will continue to fight for the province to lower taxes on beer and wine.

Asked whether he was concerned that cheaper beer might contribute to substance abuse and other harms, Ford said he trusts Ontario consumers to make smart choices when it comes to alcohol, regardless of the lower price.

The move is voluntary for the province's 260 brewers, and has raised questions about how many will actually implement cheaper prices given higher costs since beer was last allowed to be sold at $1 - a decade ago. Lakeport, the brewery that adopted and popularized "buck-a-beer" in the past before being purchased by Labatt, also still sells for just $1.60 a can.

Forked River Brewing Co., London "We're not in any position to sell beer at a buck a beer without taking a large loss on it".

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Today he vowed to make it a reality by the next holiday, Labour Day weekend, the first weekend in September.

Effective Aug. 27, Ontario's government will lower the minimum price floor to $1 for any beer with an alcohol volume below 5.6%. "I honestly can't see how a brewer can pull that off", he said.

"We are not reducing the tax level", says Vic Fedeli... which essentially says "we are encouraging breweries to eat the cost to participate in the "challenge".

"Ontario, the day you've been waiting for is finally here", Ford told reporters.

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.

The new price will not apply to draft beer sold in restaurants and bars or ciders, spirits and wine. "I think a lot of other breweries are just going to sit back and see what happens with us", he said.

"None of our members are going to be interested in participating simply because they can't afford too", Simmons said, adding that if the government wants to lower beer prices for consumers it needs to look at lowering the taxes applied against alcohol sales in the province.