Buck-a-beer details confirmed, Ontario brewery announces participation

Beer products are on display at a Toronto beer store on Thursday

The minimum retail price for beer was $1.00 in Ontario from 2005 to 2008.

A source with knowledge of the plan told The Canadian Press last week that the Progressive Conservative plan will lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from $1.25 by the Labour Day weekend.

The minimum price - which was hiked from $1 to C$1.25 by the previous Liberal government in 2008 - will apply to beers that have less than 5.6% alcohol content.

The PC government is bringing back "Buck a Beer" Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Tuesday.

"If the government wants to help society", he says, "they could start by putting a minimum price on other things that are more important to people who could use a helping hand".

The PC government is calling the move the "buck-a-beer challenge" and said the move is aimed at creating more competition in the market among brewers.

"A lot has changed, not the least of which is the cost of ingredients to make the product, the cost of labour", said Simmons.

Even a brand like Laker, which once prided itself on its $1-a-bottle price point, is retailing at $1.95 for a 473 ml can. "I don't know if his plan was to make the breweries look greedy or just to underscore his populist direction, but it is ridiculous", he said, adding the move ignores the shift towards more complex and well-crafted beer.

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"Yeah, I'll take it", said one man unloading empties.

The move will have no effect on the province's almost $600-million in revenue from beer and alcohol taxes, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said. Lakeport, the brewery that adopted and popularized "buck-a-beer" in the past before being purchased by Labatt, also still sells for just $1.60 a can. "The Premier is asking the beer producers to lower their price".

"These are normal business expenses for our stores and no costs will be incurred to either LCBO consumers or Ontario taxpayers", it said. It's up to brewers to actually pass down the savings of $1 beer to consumers. "You're going to get what you pay for".

"I believe that we can pull this off".

While the buck-a-beer program existed a decade ago, few breweries have shown interest in matching the cheaper price today.

"We are not reducing the tax level", says Vic Fedeli... which essentially says "we are encouraging breweries to eat the cost to participate in the "challenge".

Muskoka Brewery was one of the companies that declined to participate today.

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