Ontario scraps beer tax increase
TORONTO — The Ontario government is cancelling a scheduled increase in the provincial beer tax that was set to kick in next month — a move that will see the province forgo $11 million in potential annual revenue.
The Progressive Conservatives said Friday the three-cent-perlitre increase was planned by the previous Liberal regime and will be scrapped.
“This is just one more tax hike that was due,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said in an interview. “We look at every single opportunity to rein in the taxes. From the largest possible, the cap-andtrade tax, all the way through to the beer tax.”
The government said beer taxes have increased by three cents per litre each year since 2015. Beer and wine taxes brought in revenues of roughly $589 million in 2016-2017.
The halting of this year’s increase — which was set to take effect Nov. 1 — will mean Ontario’s treasury will forgo $11 million in potential revenue that would have come in between November and the end of the fiscal year in March 2019, the government said.
The move comes as the government has said it faces a challenge to deal with the province’s deficit and debt. Fedeli noted that tax increases aren’t part of the government’s strategy, saying debt and deficit would be tackled through “efficiencies.”
The government is reviewing the province’s approach to beer and wine sales, including the possible expansion of sales into corner and big box stores.
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said the Ford government is “obsessed” with beerrelated policies at the expense of more pressing matters.
“The average Ontarian won’t notice a one-cent difference on beer, but they will notice the declining state of our hospitals and schools,” he said.