Full Beard Brewing want public’s support to lower tax on craft beer

Full Beard Brewing want public’s support to lower tax on craft beer

“We’ve invested into this community”: Potvin

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Craft brewers in Ontario are banding together to ask the provincial government to help them with increasing operational costs by reforming the tax system they call ‘unfair.’

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A campaign called ‘Keep Craft Beer Local‘ was launched earlier this year by the Ontario Craft Brewers Association, encouraging people to sign a petition of sorts, and to send letters to their local MPPs and to Ontario’s Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy.

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“We’re lucky in this province to be able to enjoy some of the best craft beer in the world – but something is threatening the future of our Ontario local craft breweries– they pay higher taxes than any other craft brewery in Canada,” reads an excerpt from the organization’s website.

“This is unfair – and has already resulted in some breweries being forced to close and others being bought out by foreign-owned, international companies – leaving communities across the province without the good local jobs or the breweries they love.”

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The Timmins Chamber has offered their support, as they drafted a letter to Bethlenfalvy.

“While the current tax structure was helpful in allowing new breweries to enter the market, the inherent flaws and unintended consequences in the tax system have restricted craft brewery’s growth over the past decade and is now holding the entire sector back,” reads a portion of letter from current Chamber president Kraymr Grenke.

“If the government acts quickly to reform our province’s antiquated beer tax structure, Ontario’s craft beer industry could be bigger and stronger than ever. In fact, a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) found Ontario’s craft beer industry could grow by a minimum of another 40% and in turn, create 1,000 new jobs, $380 million in capital investment, and $2.35 billion in economic activity if the right tax changes are implemented.”

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Full Beard Brewing
Ontario’s taxes on craft beer are the highest in Canada, according to the Ontario Craft Brewers Association “Keep craft beer local” campaign. Timmins Chamber of Commerce President Kraymr Grenke says the tax system ‘is holding the entire sector back.’ Pictured is a pint being poured Thursday at Full Beard Brewing. ANDREW AUTIO/THE DAILY PRESS jpeg, TD, apsmc

Timmins’ now sole craft brewer, Full Beard Brewing, is also on board for asking the government to make some legislative changes.

Owners Jonathan St.Pierre and Benjie Potvin say it’s long overdue.

“This is a big push for the craft industry to say ‘hey, let’s support local.’ These are breweries that are in your hometown, that will support hockey teams, support family events, and so on,” said St. Pierre.

Full Beard currently has 4 full-time employees, and usually between 10 and 12 part-timers.

“We’ve invested into this community – 600 to 700 thousand – just into the building. So we own the building. We’ve done that. Molson, and the other macro brewers, and importers, are not investing into your community. They’re going to maybe give out some free t-shirts at your tournament to make it look like they’re invested, but they’re not,” said Potvin.

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“With the taxes, maybe just a review of what actually makes sense, I think is owed to us as little craft brewers – true microbrewers, true brick-and-mortar investors into the community.”

According to ‘Keep Craft Beer Local’ – on an average tall can of Ontario craft beer retailing for $3.75 – $1.50 of goes to overhead (such as labour, rent, hydro, distribution, and so on), $1.00 goes to ingredients and packaging, 10 cents for the deposit programme, 19 cents to federal taxes, and 96 cents to provincial taxes and fees.

Among those provincial taxes and fees are basic beer tax, volume tax, LCBO fees, environmental fees, and a can tax.

“We’ve tracked back to 2018, and it’s just the way the footprint has been,” said Potvin.

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He wants to see the craft brewing industry have a seat at the table of a serious discussion about revising certain provincial legislation and taxes to ensure its future. He is also concerned about multinational corporate giants simply gobbling up all of the province’s microbrewers, which has already begun in recent years.

“That’s what happens. A lot of the bigger brewers will come in and either buy the recipes, or buy the staff,” said St. Pierre.

It’s not just themselves and their employees they are concerned about, it’s the general affordability of their product.

“Lets be honest, it’s the end consumer who is absorbing most of this taxation,” said Potvin.

“Our fear is, at what point or threshold are we as a microbrewery going to hear that Jeff, John, or Janice won’t pay for four bucks for a tallboy? There are always going to be 2 dollar cans of Laker.”

They are thankful for the Chamber’s support, and would appreciate some more support from the general public.

“I would really like to see a deep dive into the analytics and justification of all these taxes, and have a report stating these are the reasons why these are here,” said Potvin.

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