New Democrats call on government to scrap planned craft beer tax

VICTORIA – Next week, buying fresh beer from your local brewery will get a little more expensive, say New Democrats.

A tax on beer purchased in growlers – 1.8-litre refillable jugs – will treat fresh beer purchased directly from local breweries as a packaged product and tax it accordingly.

“This unfair tax on small business and a sustainable industry has to go,” said Maurine Karagianis, New Democrat liquor policy critic. “When it comes to liquor policy, this government just doesn’t get it. Just weeks after a long-awaited announcement of a handful of liquor law changes, they are at it again, slipping through a tax that will make life harder for a growing industry.”

“From the beginning, we understood that breweries that survive understand that microbrewing means micro-profits,” explained Rick Dellow, co-owner of R&B Brewing Co., who is hoping to begin selling growlers in the coming months. “Having to pay more tax makes that even harder to do.”

While the Liberal government presented what it called an “overhaul” of liquor laws in February, it fell short of the modernization of liquor policy needed in B.C.

“While some much-needed amendments were part of the announcement, this is just another chapter in the Liberal government’s piecemeal approach to liquor policy,” says Karagianis. “Without a systematic approach, the growing craft beer industry is forced to operate in a completely unstable environment. Just as one fire is put out, another one starts.”

Despite having a decade to get it right, the Liberals have failed to address B.C.’s outdated liquor policies. Their fumbling attempt to privatize the liquor distribution branch unravelled, while their revision of outdated liquor laws for theatres and cinemas was a prolonged process that created ongoing confusion. Meanwhile, short-sighted new rules continue to be introduced, such as the growler tax.

The B.C. Liberals aren't up to the challenges facing British Columbia today. B.C.’s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.