The Ontario Government is strengthening the craft beverage sector in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound and across the province ensuring it can continue to grow and meet consumer demand.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker welcomed the announcement of over $15 million in funding to help small wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries with key business decisions and planning while the government continues to conduct its review of the beverage alcohol sector.
This transition funding will extend support for another year to the following initiatives:
- The Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Wine Support Program to help Ontario wineries increase competitiveness and innovation.
- The program supports wineries investing in growing their VQA wine business, including tourism development activities.
- The Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program to help provide eligible businesses with support to grow and scale up their operations.
- Marketing, Tourism and Export Development; Performance Measurement and Research and Development Initiatives.
Walker also shared that the government is proposing further changes to cut red tape for the sector that would make it easier for businesses in the alcohol beverage sector to market their products, as has been requested:
- Giving wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries with a ‘By the Glass’ licence the flexibility to extend the allowed service from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., seven days a week.
- Allowing authorized wineries to sell their wine at farmers’ markets and return unsold products to their on-site retail store within a 72 hour period. The previous 24 hour period forced wineries to bring products back and forth over the course of the weekend which made retailing at farmers’ markets not economically viable.
“Our government is committed to the success of small wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries and helping their businesses grow. We know these industries are full of opportunity,” said Walker. “These programs are important to the industry as they help the sector with key business decisions and planning while the government continues to conduct its overall review of the beverage alcohol sector.”
These changes reflect the government’s commitment to improving choice and convenience for consumers, creating more opportunities for businesses, and reducing regulatory burden on alcohol producers in the province.
“The Ontario Craft Cider Association and The Duxbury Cider Co. are very pleased to again be working with the Government of Ontario on its alcohol modernization initiative. The announcement of the one-year Transition program for fiscal year 2019 for Ontario’s Craft Cider Industry is welcome news as we continue to work together with our policy leaders towards a long term solution to grow and sustain Ontario’s hard cider sector,” said James McIntosh of the Duxbury Cider Co. “The Ontario Craft Cider makers and the Ontario Apple Growers know that the opportunity for economic growth potential is being recognized by our government and we are very thankful.”
Additionally, these improvements are part of Ontario’s Open for Business approach that focus on support to help grow the industry, including the wine and grape sector and the fast-growing craft beer, cider and distillery sectors.
“Our government’s priority is to make Ontario more competitive, and this includes strengthening the craft producers’ sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By delivering these transition programs, we are recognizing the urgent needs of the industry and helping small and medium-sized wineries, cideries and distilleries scale up, drive tourism, and increase demand for quality Ontario grapes, apples and grains.”
The wine and grape sector contributes $515 million to Ontario’s GDP and supports more than 9,000 direct jobs.
Grape production from almost 500 Ontario growers is used to make award-winning Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines, which had $374 million in sales in 2018-19.
Recently, Ken Hughes, Special Advisor to the Minister of Finance for the Beverage Alcohol Review, released a report detailing the inconvenience and unfairness of the current beverage alcohol system for everyday Ontario consumers. A key recommendation was to promote competition, establish fairness for everyone and provide new economic opportunities for businesses across the province.