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Vernon Chamber urges federal change to boost Canadian distilleries

The family behind Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery, Jeremie, Melissa, Tyler, Patricia and Tony.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery
September 29, 2019 - 7:00 PM

VERNON - A Vernon Chamber resolution to amplify the Canadian alcohol sector is gaining national support.

At the Canadian Chamber of Commerce conference in Saint John, N.B., delegates from across the country supported the Greater Vernon Chamber’s resolution that urges the federal government to reduce the excise tax on distilled spirits to $1.77 per litre on the first 150,000 litres of absolute alcohol, and to match the excise rate in the U.S. on an ongoing basis, a chamber spokesperson said.

“Chambers of commerce across the country understand the positive potential the distilled spirits industry can have on local communities and economies, but this growth can only occur if substantive regulatory changes happen at the federal level,” said Dione Chambers, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.

“With an election campaign currently underway, we strongly encourage all political parties to embrace this resolution as a way of freeing up funds so distilleries can invest in equipment, facilities and labour, while also providing an additional market for Canadian grown grain and fruit used in distilling.”

According to the Chamber, current excise rates in Canada are $12.375 per litre of absolute alcohol, or $3.51 per 750-millilitre bottle at 40 per cent alcohol by volume.

The U.S. rate is now seven times lower than Canada’s on the first 100,000 proof gallons or 200,000 litres of absolute alcohol. The sector expands by one distillery per day, the Chamber said.

"We are asking that Canada matches the U.S. so that we are not at a total disadvantage," said Tyler Dyck of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery and the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C.

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery and the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C. consulted the Greater Vernon Chamber to develop the resolution.

— This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1, 2019, to correct a statistic concerning U.S. excise tax rates.

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