Alberta’s craft beer subsidy program tanked by trade panel ruling

Province's plan to subsidize small brewers violates inter-provincial free trade

Alberta finance minister, Joe Ceci. THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE

Alberta’s subsidy plan to boost its own craft beer industry has been hammered again by a trade panel ruling.

An appeal panel under the Agreement on Internal Trade has upheld an earlier decision that provincial subsidies to assist smaller Alberta craft brewers are unfair and violate inter-provincial free trade rules.

The ruling stems from a program launched by Finance Minister Joe Ceci three years ago to help small craft brewers grow and thrive.

All brewers in Alberta pay the same $1.25 tax per litre on beer, but the province introduced grants in 2016 to help Alberta producers expand their businesses.

Calgary-based Artisan Ales filed a complaint with the internal trade panel, saying the grants effectively tilted the playing field against those who bring in beer from outside.

Ceci is scheduled to address the trade ruling later today.

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