Federal, provincial, and territorial governments have agreed on an Action Plan to enhance interprovincial trade of alcoholic beverages, outlining commitments to improve consumer choice and greater transparency and access to markets for alcohol producers.
The Action Plan stems from the 2017 Canadian Free Trade Agreement, which established the Alcoholic Beverages Working Group (ABWG). The ABWG sought to identify specific opportunities and recommend initiatives to further enhance trade in alcoholic beverages within Canada, while being mindful of social responsibility, international obligations, and fiscal considerations.
That Action Plan has now been presented to and adopted by the Committee on Internal Trade. It includes actions in the following areas:
Personal Use Exemption Limits
Provinces and territories with personal use exemption limits for the amount of alcoholic beverages transported by individuals across provincial/territorial boundaries, for personal use, will work to either remove or increase these limits.
Provinces and territories without a retail e-commerce platform for the sale of alcoholic beverages will work to implement a retail e-commerce platform or develop a website allowing consumers to see their liquor board’s product assortment. Provinces with existing e-commerce platforms will explore options to offer more flexible processes for listings on the platform to expand market access opportunities for producers.
Improving Existing, and Considering New Sales Channels
In an effort to improve existing sales channels, provinces and territories will work to reduce administrative burdens, improve special-order processes, streamline sales processes, and improve access, selection and availability of alcoholic beverages to consumers within that province or territory. Some provinces and territories and the federal government are working together through a technically-focused working group to assess the feasibility of direct-to-consumer sales.
Improving Transparency and Accessibility of Information
Federal, provincial and territorial governments are developing an online bilingual information hub. Targeted to alcohol manufacturers, it will provide information related to each jurisdiction’s alcohol retail and distribution systems on a single website to improve transparency and accessibility. The information and links on the website will be regularly reviewed and updated.
Increasing Transparency in Pricing
For greater transparency, each province and territory will work to make basic information on its pricing policies for alcoholic beverages publicly available. Each province and territory will work to be transparent about the pricing structures of alcoholic beverages, and will make it easier to see the components that make up the final retail or wholesale price, where applicable.
Improving Listing Practices
Provinces and territories will make it easier to access information about their listing practices for alcoholic beverages (e.g., ensuring that listing practices are posted on liquor board’s websites). They will also develop and/or refine processes related to listing practices to increase transparency.
Maintaining a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group
Federal, provincial and territorial governments will maintain a working group for trade in alcoholic beverages to monitor the ongoing implementation of the Alcoholic Beverages Working Group’s recommendations, discuss emerging issues in the alcohol sector, and liaise with stakeholders as needed. This working group will be established for four years, after which the governments will evaluate whether the group should continue.