Calgary bars, restaurants bracing for incoming alcohol tax increase

Canada’s alcohol tax is expected to jump by 6.3 per cent across Canada starting April 1st. For more on the local impact in Calgar, Tate Laycraft has the story.

Calgary restaurants and bars are bracing for impact as Canada’s alcohol tax is expected to jump 6.3 per cent starting April 1.

This marks the biggest increase in alcohol tax in more than 40 years.

“If you’re already kind of throttling the line of success, then this could be the nail in the coffin for your business,” said Dan Allard of Cold Garden Beverage Company.

“It should be something where we want to feel good about donating money to the government, so they can be doing better services. But, if it’s at the expense of businesses, we gotta tow that line a bit.”

Allard says a brewery like Cold Garden could see a price increase of roughly $300 a month.

“To some people listening to this right now, it might sound like that’s nothing. You know, it’s peanuts. Three hundred bucks a month is a drop in the bucket if you’re busy. And if you’re not, that could mean you’re closing the doors,” Allard said.

Meanwhile, Calgary Chamber of Commerce labels the tax as adding insult to injury.

“Everything from the cost of labour, from property tax, obviously supply chains continue to be an issue, inflation, interest rates. We really see that businesses are repeatedly getting hit,” said Ruhee Ismail-Teja, the director of communications at Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

As the tax will be imposed at the manufacturing level, people will not see it on their receipt. Though Allard acknowledges there are different challenges for different businesses, he doesn’t anticipate a dramatic change in the prince of a pint.

“If anybody is predicating price increases on the excised duty as a direct to consumer product, I think that’s disingenuous,” Allard added.

At the retail level, the higher tax is expected to range from as penny for a can of beer to as much as 70 cents on a bottle of hard alcohol.

The federal alcohol duty is adjusted every April to match the rate of inflation.

— With files from Kelly Turner

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