Saskatchewan’s Acting Minister Responsible for Trade Dustin Duncan is calling a ruling against the Government of Alberta’s system of beer mark-ups a big win for free trade within Canada.
A panel set up under the Agreement on Internal Trade confirmed the Alberta government’s current rebate program for small Alberta brewers as well as the program it had in 2015 discriminated against brewers from other provinces and was contrary to that province’s free trade obligations. The panel has given the Alberta government six months to change its policy. However, the Alberta government is appealing the decision. The appeal process could take up to seven months.
“Our government has been a champion of eliminating trade barriers between the provinces and Alberta’s rebate program has been a de facto barrier,” Duncan said. “By contrast, our province provides a graduated mark-up rate for small breweries, regardless of origin, and does not discriminate between Saskatchewan and out-of-province breweries when applying its mark-up.
“The panel decision supports a level playing field for beer, which is good for Alberta consumers and the Canadian craft beer industry generally. We are disappointed Alberta has decided to appeal the ruling. It needs to do the right thing and comply with the ruling.”