Released on July 18, 2016
Saskatchewan Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Don McMorris said today that the Government of Saskatchewan is very concerned about changes the Government of Alberta recently announced to that province’s beer mark-ups and to its incentives for local brewers.
"Alberta's new beer pricing and grant policy are a trade issue that could hurt producers and consumers in both provinces," McMorris said. "We have raised our concerns with Premier Notley's office and Premier Wall will be raising this matter again with Premier Notley at the Premiers' meeting in Whitehorse later this week."
Last Tuesday (July 12), the Alberta government announced that as of August 5, Alberta will move to one standard beer mark-up of $1.25 per litre regardless of company size, location, or level of production. The proposed change will also see Alberta provide grants to small, Alberta-based producers to support development of that province’s industry.
"This policy change is bad news, not only for Alberta beer drinkers but also for all non-Alberta-based brewers that serve the Alberta market," McMorris said. "It will significantly increase the mark-up rate applied in Alberta to Great Western Brewing and other small Saskatchewan producers. This would mean higher prices and less selection for Alberta consumers, as out-of-province breweries will be forced to reconsider that market after having been placed at a significant economic disadvantage to their Alberta counterparts."
McMorris said Alberta should not be raising trade barriers for beer entering the Alberta market at a time that all provinces are working toward an agreement to reduce interprovincial trade barriers.
"We will be closely watching for details on the grant program to determine if it is compliant with the Agreement on Internal Trade and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement," McMorris said. "At the very least, Alberta’s grant program would run counter to the spirit and intent of the New West Partnership, distorting the market by favouring Alberta producers at the expense of Saskatchewan producers.
"If they proceed with this measure, we will have to explore all our options, including potentially re-examining the mark-ups on Alberta beer and other liquor products sold in Saskatchewan. We should all be looking for ways to reduce interprovincial trade barriers, not raising them, so we hope the Alberta government will reconsider this ill-conceived policy."
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