The decision by some of Canada’s premiers to ease restrictions on interprovincial beer and alcohol sales is a step in the right direction, according to the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS).
“This will be good for local consumers who live near provincial borders,” said AIMS President Marco Navarro-Genie, “and it may be somewhat positive for the small number of artisan brewers, wineries, and distillers who have been developing a new industry and need bigger markets in order to grow.” But it’s not that significant.
Alberta and Manitoba have no restrictions on what their residents may buy in other provinces for personal use and bring home. The other provinces and territories have a complex variety of rules that restrict out-of-province purchases. Consumers will still face excessive fines for bringing more than the rules permit.
A news release issued by the provincial premiers and territorial leaders, meeting in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, last week said they had reached an agreement in principle.
“The good news is that a few provinces will likely change a little bit,” said Navarro-Genie. “The bad news is that most will continue to keep restrictions in place.”
Navarro-Genie said it is disconcerting, according to some media reports, that Newfoundland and Labrador is reluctant to lower trade barriers at all.
“Newfoundland and Labrador is home to a liquor industry with a bright future. The industry needs access to consumers across Canada. Getting rid of these needless restrictions would give wine-makers, brewers, and distillers access to much larger markets. It would give them the chance to create new jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and new tax revenue for a provincial government that still faces enormous financial problems.”
The same is true of all four Atlantic provinces. There is some good here for budding Valley wineries in Nova Scotia, for example. But there should be much more. The current restrictions across the country continue to cost Canadians billions, even though Canadians overwhelming support freer trade and the removal of restrictions on wine and liquor among provinces.
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AIMS is a Canadian non-profit, non-partisan think tank that provides a distinctive Atlantic Canadian perspective on economic, political, and social issues. The Institute sets the benchmark on public policy by drawing together the most innovative thinking available from some of the world’s foremost experts and applying that thinking to the challenges facing Canadians. AIMS was incorporated as a non-profit corporations under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act and was granted charitable registration by Revenue Canada as of 3 October 1994. It received US charitable recognition under 501(c)(3), effective the same date.