MPP CLARK’S BILL TO GROW INDUSTRY REJECTED BY GOVERNMENT, NDP
QUEEN’S PARK – Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark expressed disappointment today after the Wynne government and NDP joined forces to defeat his Private Member’s Bill to support Ontario’s craft distillers and create new jobs and investment.
“I’m so disappointed the Liberals and NDP voted against reforming Ontario’s outdated liquor regulations and the crippling taxes that are a real disincentive to small, independent craft distillers,” said Clark. “Both parties claim to support craft distillers, but when it comes to removing the barriers to growth in the sector, their votes today spoke louder than their words.”
Clark’s Bill 50, the Free My Rye Act, was defeated following debate this afternoon in the Ontario Legislature.
The key component in Clark’s bill is a graduated tax plan that would see producers like King’s Lock Craft Distillers in Johnstown pay more tax as they increase production, rather than a flat per-bottle tax.
“Distillers face tremendous start-up costs and a graduated tax allows them to pay off debt faster and start reinvesting to increase production volumes and hire more staff. That’s what has happened in the U.S., B.C. and Nova Scotia where this type of reform sparked an incredible expansion in new craft spirits producers,” said Clark.
“Even with the three-year rebate program announced by the government this week, I’m not sure we’re going to see new distilleries go from planning to production.”
Clark’s bill received support this week from the Ontario Craft Distillers Association (OCDA), which represents 19 independent distillers. In a release, OCDA stated it “strongly encourages” the government to consider the benefits of Bill 50.
“The OCDA asks the legislature to refer this bill to committee and looks forward to working with the government within that process to facilitate the remaining change needed in this industry,” stated the release.
During the debate today, Clark stressed he was open to all-party co-operation.
“Let’s get it into committee and put my proposals on the table with the government’s and ideas from the Third Party (NDP). Then we can hear from craft distillers and work together on a package of reforms to unleash the amazing potential for growth in this sector,” said Clark.
In voting down Free My Rye at Second Reading, Clark said the government and NDP made it clear they’re not interested in having that discussion about creating more opportunities for craft distillers.
“It’s a disappointing message they’ve sent today. Not only to craft distillers, but to any sector that expects MPPs from all parties to work together to create jobs and get our economy back on track,” said Clark.
In addition to the graduated tax plan, Free My Rye contained the following measures for craft distillers:
- Removing the middle man by allowing for direct delivery to bars and restaurants, instead of going through the LCBO bureaucracy.
- Allowing on-site sampling and per-glass sales.
- Increasing access for consumers by expanding the retail outlets where craft spirits are sold.