For too long, almost 100 years in fact, Canadians have been frustrated by the restrictions on the transportation of Canadian beer, wine, and spirits between provinces and territories. Recently proposed legislation will remove the only remaining federal barrier to trade on alcohol, and the onus will be on provincial and territorial governments to change their own regulations, paving the way for direct-to-consumer alcohol sales from across Canada. 

Removing barriers to trade between provinces and territories fosters economic growth, reduces the regulatory burden on our small and medium-sized businesses, and creates good middle-class jobs across the country. 

April 2018 was the first sign of some potential movement in this area, only to take the back seat once again. The Supreme Court of Canada heard a case from a local New Brunswick man who was caught transporting beer for personal consumption across provincial lines. After a five-year legal battle, the New Brunswick man has lost his bid to be able to stock up on cheap beer in neighboring Quebec. The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and transport alcohol across provincial borders without impediments.

But at that time, the provincial government was hinting it would look at easing limits on interprovincial alcohol.

Fast Forward Almost a Year to the Day Later, Ottawa, April 9, 2019

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, highlighted plans to eliminate the only remaining federal barrier to trade in alcoholic beverages within Canada, taking the first step to give Canadians better access to Canadian products without restrictions.

The Government of Canada is taking a leading role in promoting trade within Canada—including in wine, beer, and spirits—to grow the economy and create good middle-class jobs. As promised in a recent 2019 budget, the Government of Canada has introduced legislation which will remove the federal requirement that alcohol moving from one province to another go through a provincial liquor authority. Once that measure passes, provinces and territories will need to make their own changes in order for direct-to-consumer shipping to be allowed across Canada. (Source: Government of Canada)

Quick Facts

  • Canadian wineries, breweries, distilleries, and other alcohol producers directly employ about 20,000 people.
  • Alcohol manufacturing sales exceeded $8 billion last year, including exports of almost $1 billion.
  • The proposed amendments are to the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.

The only thing this law does is allow individual provinces to control the margins on what small and medium-sized companies can make. Ontario in particular, with the LCBO and Beer Stores controlling all of the sales of wine, beer, and spirits, has had a monopoly on the alcohol market for a long time.

Why Are These Changes So Important?

Allowing small and medium-sized business in Canada to increase sales and margins will allow for more businesses to open in each sector, creating jobs and tax income for the country. In an economy where we are looking to create jobs, support local businesses, and support the growing beverage manufacturing industry in Canada, this change in legislation is 100 years overdue.

At Beverage Protect, we work with various beverage manufacturing companies across Canada, providing them with insurance and risk management services. All of our customers have the same story when it comes to the need for help with taxes and growing their businesses.

We can already see some changes for the better at the provincial and federal levels. Let’s hope this momentum continues. 

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By Joshua Kearley