Chamber Resolution Aims to Help Ontario Wineries

Major changes to the retail taxation scheme for Ontario wines are being sought by the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The local chamber has submitted a resolution which calls for four major changes: eliminating the 35% import tax, eliminate the 6.1% retail tax on domestically made wine, ensure direct delivery of Ontario wine to new retail opportunities and not to trade the existing retail monopoly of the LCBO for a grocery chain oligopoly.

WERCC President Rakesh Naidu says the resolution was developed in consultation with the 17 local wineries.

He says it makes no sense for domestic wines to pay an import tax.

"So that's what puts us at a disadvantage.  It's an import tax but it should not be applied to Ontario grapes that are grown in Ontario  and wine that is produced in Ontario."

Naidu says Ontario wines face another tax disadvantage against the imports.

"In addition to the sales tax they have to pay the 6.1%, so you really see all of this adds up quickly and it creates an environment where our wineries have to pay a significant amount of tax which makes them less competitive."

He says the Ontario wine industry is facing an uphill battle for retail.

"It becomes very challenging for them to grow and sell winery products here and compete with the rest of the world.  In some places the costs of growing and producing is so less that when they bring the products in here and sell it through LCBO they're priced much lower than our wine."

Chambers from other wine producing regions have already indicated their support for the resolution.

Naidu says the local wine industry employs several hundred people in Essex County.

He's hoping the Ontario Chamber will support the resolution and lobby the Ford government to make the changes.