New bill could be a lifeline for Canadian wineries, breweries, and distilleries

Jan 11 2021, 4:00 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Dan Albas, MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

Two months from now, we will have all experienced what 12 months of life in Canada looks like during a pandemic.

We have all experienced changes in our lives, workplaces, and communities. We have witnessed how the virus has altered our economy, devastating many sectors while at the same time rewarding others.

With online orders for couriers and shipping companies it has been a boom, providing a much-needed revenue connection for large companies like Amazon; however, it also has led many small businesses to connect with customers who cannot visit in person.

Indeed, many courier companies including Canada Post are currently setting new shipping records with heavy shipping volumes occurring between Canadian provinces.

While many Canadian small family businesses can use these opportunities, if you happen to be a vintner, craft brewer, or artisan distiller, you can’t always gain access.

The COVID-19 economy has been devastating and with so many restaurants, bars, and pubs either shut down or operating at reduced capacity and under limited hours, a valuable source of revenue has been lost.

Further, due to various local, provincial, and international travel restrictions, in-person visits, and much-needed “cellar door” sales have been severely diminished.

As an added insult to injury, unlike other industries such as cannabis, local alcohol producers for the most part cannot directly ship to customers in many other Canadian provinces.

Currently, only BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia allow direct-to-consumer shipping from other Canadian provinces.

This means consumers in provinces such as Ontario and Quebec will be largely limited to provincial liquor monopolies such as the LCBO and SAQ and local producers (where available) without significant access from producers in other provinces.

This is where Bill C-260 comes in, what I have called the “Buy, Ship & Sip” Bill.

Bill C-260 is a simple private member’s Bill that would amend the Canada Post Act so that Canada Post can bypass these repressive provincial monopolies and allow for direct-to-consumer shipping to you from a producer in another Canadian province.

Aside from providing more consumer choice, Bill C-260 would also allow Canadian producers to have direct-to-consumer market access in all Canadian provinces.

Many of the wines, craft beers, and artisan spirits produced in other countries and sold in Canada already enjoy the economic advantage of having full market access in their domestic country of origin.

Bill C-260 not only helps to level that playing field, but it also provides an opportunity for consumers to have access to world-class Canadian produced beverages that are not currently available in their local market.

If you support Bill C-260 and would like to “Buy, Ship & Sip” from other Canadian provinces, please contact your local MP to pass on your support for a truly “Buy Canadian” policy.

You can also sign the official House of Commons E-Petition.

There has never been a better time to throw Canada’s small family wineries, craft breweries, and artisan distillers a lifeline.

The great part is that it also increases consumer choice and promotes a more united country post-COVID-19 — something that Canadians can certainly toast to.

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