Local Brewers react to 'Buck-a-Beer' program

The Ford Government is bringing in a buck-a-beer just ahead of the Labor Day weekend.  The government says it's all part of putting people first. But, for some local brewers, the idea is falling flat. It's a campaign promise that Doug Ford says he's delivering on.

While some consumers welcome the news, some brewers say they won't participate.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was all smiles today as he helped stack beer at the Barley Days Brewery in Picton; all smiles, too, as he delivered on an election promise to lower the minimum price on a bottle of beer.

“Ontario, the day you've been waiting for is finally here,” Ford said at a news conference inside the brewery, “We are bringing back a buck a beer to Ontario.”

The buck-a beer will go into effect August 27, just before the Labor Day weekend and will apply to any beer with less than 5.6% alcohol. That minimum price had been $1.25 under the Liberal government for a decade.  

“What it is,” Ford said, “is putting money back in people's pockets.  When you go out and you buy your case of beer for weekend, you’re not going to be paying the same price; you’re going to be paying less.”

“Under Ford's plan, brewers won't be required to charge less but they will be given incentives like prime spots in LCBO stores.  The lower price won't apply to draft beer and won't include the bottle deposit.

Paul Meek with Kitchesippi Beer Company isn’t on board with the idea.

“I don’t think a lot of breweries will be participating in this,” Meek said, “I think it’s a bad idea.”

Meek says Kitchesippi contributes to the community through a variety of charitable events and supports a staff that is well-paid with good benefits, both of which would have to be cut if he were to cut the price of a bottle of beer to a dollar.

“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.  There are more important things to choose from.”

He's not the only brewery thinking that way. Napanee Beer Company tweeted that it won't participate in this: "There are a lot of things that our province needs," they said, "but "buck a beer" isn't one of them."

And Muskoka Brewery added "We support living wages and fresh quality brews. So yah, we're out.”

But many folks at the Beer Store today are in.

“Yeah, I’ll take it,” said one man unloading empties.

“It would be nice to go back to that price again,” added a woman.

“I'd like to see gas lowered to that price instead of the beer,” said another man.

Many have questioned Ford's timing on this, not only because it will kick in just ahead of the Labor Day Weekend but because the announcement falls on the heels of cuts to social assistance.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving worries lower prices may lead to increased consumption.