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Niagara Falls
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Wine industry applauds elimination of 6.1% tax, as Ford changes where booze can be sold
Premier Doug Ford speaks at a news conference Thursday at which he unveiled major changes to how beer and wine will be sold in Ontario. SUPPLIED

Thursday was a good news day for Niagara’s wine industry, with an announcement by the Ontario government that includes several new measures to support the industry.

The province will introduce legislation to eliminate the 6.1 per cent tax on wine purchased at wineries.

The industry has always said that tax was unfair and has campaigned vigorously to have it repealed.

“Today is one of the best days the Ontario wine industry has had in several decades,” Aaron Dobbin, president and CEO of Wine Growers Ontario, said in a news release.

“The announcement by Premier Doug Ford and (finance) minister Peter Bethlenfalvy is the result of years of hard work, determination and unwavering commitment to the success of the Ontario grape and wine industry,” Dobbin said.

Overall, Thursday’s announcement detailed sweeping changes to the way beer and wine will be sold.

The government said it is expanding the number of convenience, grocery and big-box stores able to sell beer, wine, cider and coolers by up to 8,500 new stores.

That change will take effect in 2026.

The current shelf space requirements for Ontario wines will be extended to the new retailers to help small producers compete. The government will also direct the LCBO to promote and prioritize Ontario-made products.

Two major reports released in recent months have made the case that the wine industry has huge potential to spur economic growth, but needs better access to distribution – and reduction of unfair taxes.

Dobbin also said, “The Ontario government has listened and acted. Thanks to these bold actions, we are poised to achieve our vision of growth for the wine and grape, tourism, culture and agricultural economies.”

MORE TO COME …

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