The team at CRAFT Beer Market Kelowna offer more than 100 drinks on tap. (Black Press Media files)

Ontario government to bring back buck a beer by Labour Day: source

Province had buck-a-bottle beer but the Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008

Ontario will see the return of buck a beer by Labour Day weekend, The Canadian Press has learned, though some in the industry predict few brewers will embrace the new, lower minimum price.

A source with knowledge of the plan says the Progressive Conservative government is expected to announce Tuesday that it will lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from $1.25 by the September holiday weekend.

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 government is hoping to get brewers on board by launching what it calls a “buck-a-beer challenge” with incentives for those who cut prices to $1, the source said.

The move was one of Premier Doug Ford’s promises during the spring election campaign, and Ford suggested in a video released Friday that he would be making good on it soon. He has also vowed to broaden the sale of beer and wine to corner and box stores.

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.

READ MORE: Molson enters into joint venture to develop cannabis-infused beverages

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.

Still, the move will appeal to value-conscious consumers, though it probably won’t affect the craft beer market, which attracts a demographic that is willing to pay more, he said.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vancouver Island leads nation in medically assisted deaths

Island residents choose assisted death five times more than other Canadians

Greater Victoria municipalities will consider at least seven applications for private pot stores

Victoria will eventually consider six applications, while Sooke will consider one

New Victoria ReStore location opens Oct. 27

New Tillicum location helps bargain hunters and Habitat for Humanity

Saanich homeless campers ‘apprehensive’ about pending police action

No police are currently on site after provincial government issued notice of eviction

Wait times for ICBC road tests increase in Victoria

Increase has no connection with tests becoming more challenging: ICBC

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Defence cautions against mob justice in Calgary child neglect trial

Jennifer and Jeromie Clark of Calgary have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death

Feds eyeing options to expedite pardons for minor pot convictions

Internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons

Robert Barron column: Glad straps no longer used in schools

You would have to hold out your hands, palms up to expose the most sensitive parts

Island pot smokers won’t be allowed to light up on the ski hill

Mount Washington maintains smoke-free policy in light of marijuana legalization

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to dominate North American marijuana industry

Cannabis producers claim the U.S. is “rapidly losing” its competitive advantage to Canada

Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

Opposition calls it ‘fake’ tax that is reducing housing supply

Most Read