TORONTO—The Ontario government says it will offer “non-financial incentives” to brewers who sell their beer for $1 once the province's buck-a-beer plan is in place later this month.
Premier Doug Ford said participating businesses will be offered prime spots in Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores, or advertising in flyers or inserts, among other possible rewards.
Speaking today at a brewery in Picton, Ont., the premier said the program, which was one of his promises during the spring election campaign, will not cost taxpayers anything.
“Nobody is being forced to lower their prices and there will be no subsidies or tax handouts," Ford stressed, calling the move a "win-win.”
Asked whether he was concerned that cheaper beer might contribute to substance abuse and other harms, Ford said he trusts Ontario consumers to make smart choices when it comes to alcohol—regardless of the lower price.
“If beer goes up in consumption over what—20 cents, 25 cents? We're just trying to put money back in the consumer's pocket,” he remarked.
“I think people in Ontario are mature enough . . . to know when they've had one too many.”
The Progressive Conservative plan will lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer with an alcohol volume below 5.6 percent to $1 from $1.25 starting Aug. 27—a few days before the Labour Day 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 Tories have said a return to buck-a-beer would see more competition in the beer market without affecting the province's revenues from beer and wine taxes, which government documents show brought in roughly $589 million in 2016-17.
Ontario previously had buck-a-bottle beer but the then-Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008, citing its “social responsibility” mandate.
Ford also has vowed to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner and box stores in Ontario.