Premier Doug Ford says buck-a-beer coming by Labour Day

By News Staff

Buck-a-beer is coming to Ontario in time for Labour Day.

Premier Doug Ford took to social media on Friday to make good on another one of his campaign promises.

“As promised, buck-a-beer is coming to Ontario, which will be great for beer fans and breweries across our province,” Ford tweeted out. “I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend responsibly with your beverage of choice.”

Back in May, the PC Party tweeted out that Doug Ford would bring back buck-a-beer because “beer consumers have been forced to pay inflated prices for beer in order to increase the profits of big corporations.”

As it stands, the minimum price that the government has established for beer is $1.25 for any beer that’s 5.6 per cent alcohol or less. The province will reduce the minimum price to $1, legally giving brewers the right to sell their beer for a buck.

Brewers would not be required to charge less, however, and the lower minimum price would not apply to draft beer, nor would it include the bottle deposit.

The Tories have said bringing back buck a beer would allow more competition in the beer market without affecting the province’s revenues from beer and wine taxes, which brought in roughly $589 million in 2016-2017, according to government documents.

Ontario previously had buck-a-bottle beer but the Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008, citing its “social responsibility” mandate.

In its heyday, buck a beer was a successful marketing campaign and seized a significant share of the market, said Scott Simmons, president of Ontario Craft Brewers, who was an executive at The Beer Store at the time.

Several brewers adopted it, including Lakeport, which “really took it to town,” said Simmons, who spent a year at the company.

But the costs of making beer have gone up, as have the provincial and federal taxes, making it less feasible for brewers to sell their product at the $1 minimum price now, he said.

“I don’t see many, if any, heading to that price simply from a profitability point of view,” he said.

“I don’t think it can be done in 2018 but some brewers may think it can be done and I’d be interested to see what’s actually in the product that they’re selling at that price,” he said. “It can’t be very good, let me put it that way.”

Few brewers sell at the current minimum price unless they’re having a sale, Simmons said, noting that an additional $6 drop for a case of 24 would likely wipe out any profits.

A formal announcement on buck-a-beer is expected next week.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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