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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Gates launching bill to end 6.1% tax on Ontario wines
MPP Wayne Gates is reintroducing a bill to end the 6.1 per cent tax on Ontario wines. (FIle/Evan Loree)

Niagara New Democrat MPP Wayne Gates is reintroducing legislation to cancel the basic tax charged on Ontario wines, a move the wine industry has been aggressively lobbying the Doug Ford government to make.

The bill would create an exemption for VQA and 100 per cent Ontario wine from the 6.1 per cent tax collected on wine sold at winery retail stores in the province.

“The wine industry is an incredibly important part of our community here in Niagara and the economic impact of COVID-19 has dealt a massive blow,” Gates said in a news release.

“This legislation is an important step in creating a level playing field and assisting our wineries and growers during a difficult time.”

Gates’ bill, the Supporting Economic Recovery and Renewal in the Niagara Region Act, would create a tax exemption for all on-site retail sales of VQA and 100 per cent Ontario wine for all wineries in the province.

Foreign imported wine is not subject to the tax, which industry advocates have said amounts to unfair treatment of the province’s wine industry.

As documented in The Lake Report in August, the Ontario Craft Wineries launched a petition calling for abolition of the 6.1 per cent tax.

Association president Richard Linley said the basic tax, in addition to other levies including the HST, punishes small wineries that sell their own wine to the public from their winery premises.

“No other retail product pays a tax like this.”

A report released in June by Deloitte Canada and commissioned by Ontario Craft Wineries, Tourism Partnership of Niagara and Wine Growers Ontario noted Niagara’s wine industry, if supported, could bring in $8 billion in gross domestic product to the region over the next 25 years.

And one way to support the industry would be to eliminate the sin tax and distribution restrictions, the report said.

Earlier this year John Peller, chairman and CEO of Andrew Peller Ltd., publicly urged the province to do more to help the wine industry compete, saying it would pay huge dividends.

“There is no other industry that has greater growth impact on economies than premium wine-based economies,” he said.

“It’s a very bold statement, but it also happens to be true. It’s not rhetorical. It’s not hyperbole. It’s not conjecture. It’s an economic fact,” Peller told a NOTL Chamber of Commerce gathering attended by area politicians and leaders from business, tourism, theatre and wineries.

Gates introduced similar legislation in 2018 to eliminate the tax but it died when the provincial election was called.

“Frankly, we need to do a better job of supporting our wine industry and ensure they have a larger share of industry like we see in other provinces,” said the MPP for Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie.

“These businesses create jobs right here in our community and the impact of COVID-19 could see up to one in five wineries closing their doors.”

“From my discussions with winery owners and industry associations, this bill will provide much-needed relief at a time when many in the industry are struggling from the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” said Gates.

“We are really lucky in Niagara to have such a wonderful wine region and opportunities for education in the field at both Niagara College and Brock University – let’s work hard to make sure it can continue to grow.”

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