Doug Ford freezes beer tax that was set to rise a penny a bottle in November

Doug Ford freezes beer tax that was set to rise a penny a bottle in November

It’s a penny from heaven for Ontario beer drinkers.

The Progressive Conservative government is cancelling a planned three cents per litre tax increase on beer that was to take effect next month.

But provincial taxes are still a large chunk of the cost consumers pay for beer.

For draft beer, it’s 72.45 cents per litre, although it had been set to rise to 75.45 cents a litre on Nov. 1.

Bottled beer by the major breweries is even more heavily taxed at 89.74 cents per litre. It had been planned to increase to 92.74 cents a litre.

At the current rate, beer drinkers are paying almost 30 cents a bottle in provincial taxes.

That’s one reason why Ford’s much-hyped “buck-a-beer” campaign pledge fizzled.

The premier lowered the legal minimum price from $1.25 to $1 a bottle in August, but not even the major brewers, such as Labatt, Molson, and Sleeman, could afford to sell beer for that price due to hefty provincial levies.

Only Cool Beer, a boutique Etobicoke brewery, is currently selling four packs for $4.40 including deposit.

Taxes for craft brewers will also be frozen.

For craft draft, the tax will stay at 35.96 cents per litre and for bottles it will remain 39.75 cents a litre.

Beer made and sold at brew pubs will continue to be taxed at 33.41 cents per litre.

Taxes on all of those suds had been set to increase by three cents a litre as well.

Green Leader Mike Schreiner complained that Ford “is so obsessed with beer prices when there are real issues that he could be addressing.”

“This week the UN climate panel issued its most dire warning about how close we are to the 1.5 C tipping point, and yet this government refuses to say a word about its climate plan,” said Schreiner.

“Meanwhile, the two-week delay on its overdose prevention site decision is costing lives as the opening of new spaces is halted,” he added.

“But for Premier Ford, lowering beer bottle prices by a penny is more urgent than either the climate crisis or the mental health and addictions crisis.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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