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Alberta Canada Government Favours Local Breweries in New Mark-Up Regime

Earlier this month, the Alberta government implemented a new subsidy for Alberta-based craft breweries and increased the provincial mark-up on all beer imported into the province. The introduction of the subsidy is part of an increasing trend across the country to promote local production.

Background

On October 28, 2015, the Alberta government increased the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission’s (“AGLC”) mark-up on beer from large brewers, as well as craft brewers outside of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (“NWPTA”). As a result, craft brewers within the jurisdictions of NWPTA (Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan) benefited from a graduated tax system (they were taxed at an average rate of $0.48/litre on annual worldwide production below 200,000 hectolitres (hL)), while those outside NWPTA were taxed at a base rate of $1.25/litre.

As of August 5, 2016, the AGLC has eliminated the graduated mark-up rate applied to beer produced by small craft brewers in NWPTA jurisdictions. Instead, a mark-up of $1.25/litre, regardless of the size of the company or its location of production, has been applied to all beer. However, Alberta-based brewers producing and selling less than 300,000 hL in Alberta annually will be eligible to participate in the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program (the “Program”).

Program Details

The Program was created under the Alberta Jobs Plan as part of the Alberta government’s 2016 budget commitment to support job creation and encourage business capital investment within the province. The Program carries a 10-year term, and the government projects it will grant about $20 million per year to local, small brewers. In addition to the government funding, the Program will be funded by the increased mark-up collected by the AGLC.

The Program provides a monthly grant based on an approved applicant’s sales volume of beer containing up to 11.9% alcohol (“Qualifying Product”). To be eligible, the brewery must hold a Class E Manufacturer’s License or a Class E Brew Pub License, and have sold no more than 300,000 hL of Qualifying Product in the previous calendar year.

The grant will be allocated on a sliding scale based upon a brewer’s previous 12 months of production data, and the rate will be re-calculated every six months using the most recent 12 months of production.

Calculation of the Grant

The current payment regime allows an eligible Alberta brewery to receive a grant of $1.15/litre, for up to their first 10,256 hL of beer produced and sold. The rate gradually decreases to $0.80/litre until production reaches 300,000 hL, at which point the grant expires.

Alberta Small Brewers Development Program  
Amount of Beer Sold

Grant Received (approx.)

Under 10,256 hL

$1.15per litre

10,256 - 150, 000 hL $0.80 per litre
3000,000 hL $0

Melissa B. Tayar, Dylan E. Augruso, and Adam P. Fucile are co-authors of this article. 


1  Claire Theobald, “Alberta Brewers Cheers to Liquor Changes”, Edmonton Sun (28 October, 2015), online: <http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/10/28/alberta-brewers-cheers-to-liquor=c...

2  Ibid

3  Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, “Alberta Small Brewers Development Program” (28 July, 2016), online: <http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/general/progserv.nsf/all/pgmsrv457>

4   David Bell, “Grant Program Aims to Make Alberta Craft Breweries ‘Signature Industry’”, CBC News (28 July 2016), online: <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-craft-brewery-grant-1.3699... Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, “Alberta Small Brewers Development Program Terms and Conditions” (August 5 2016), online: <http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/general/progserv.nsf/all/pgmsrv457>

5  Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, “Alberta Small Brewers Development Program Term and Conditions” (August 5 2016), online <http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/general/progserv.nsf/all/pgmsrv457>

6  Ibid

7  Howard Anglin, “Alberta’s Beer Policy Still Unconstitutional” (30 July, 2016), online: <http://www.torontosun.com/2016/07/29/albertas-beer-policy-still-unconsti...

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© Copyright 2021 Dickinson Wright PLLCNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 238
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About this Author

Brenda C. Swick, Dickinson Wright, Trade Remedies Lawyer, Anti-trust Regulatory Attorney
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Ms. Swick's practice focuses on government contracting, anti-trust, regulatory compliance, anti-corruption, export controls and economic sanctions, trade remedies, customs and judicial review of government decisions. She also has a practice in international trade and investment law (including WTO/NAFTA dispute settlement).

The Government of Canada has appointed Ms. Swick as an expert arbitrator under Chapter 19 of the NAFTA. She has also received her Certificate in Public Procurement Law and Practice from Osgoode Hall Law School. Early on in her...

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