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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces 'Buck-a-Beer' plan

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

In order to encourage producers to lower their prices, Ford said his government would launch the buck-a-beer challenge, which would offer promotional programs, in-store displays and advertising to those who sell their beer at the minimum price. "The margins keep getting tighter and tighter and you want to invest in your company, to grow and create more jobs". "Here we have a premier who is cutting income to the very poorest amongst us as a priority, and at the same time subsidizing buck-a-beer", referring to the recent cancellation of the basic income pilot program.

The lower minimum price will not apply to draft beer and won't include the bottle deposit.

On Tuesday morning, Premier Doug Ford will be at the Barley Days Brewery in Picton to announce the new minimum price of a bottle or can of beer will be $1.

"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 conservatives campaigned that bringing back buck a beer would allow more competition in the beer market "without affecting the province's revenues" from beer and wine taxes - approximately $589 million in 2016-17 as stated in government documents.

The plan for buck-a-beer is being met with skepticism from some Toronto brewers who say they have other challenges to worry about.

For example: now, with the minimum price for beer set at $1.25 for 5.6 per cent alcohol or less, a 24-pack of Molson Canadian will cost about $40 at the Beer Store.

Simmons said he's been speaking with his membership about Ford's idea to lower to price of beer for many weeks, and doesn't get a sense that they're concerned about it or interested in making changes.

"Selling it for a $1 for us, that just wouldn't be possible", he said. A 24-bottle case of Laker Light (341 ml each) sells for $33.95 at the LCBO, or $1.41 a bottle.

For example, a brewer seeking one shelf extender filled with its product in every LCBO where one is available specifically for Ontario beer - 361 of the LCBO's 660 stores - would pay more than $27,000 for the promotion to run for roughly one month. The minimum wage hike to $14 per hour has also played a role in pushing up beer prices, as has increased prices on the ingredients needed to brew.

Doug Appeldoorn, owner of Toronto's People's Pint Brewing Company, said creating a buck-a-beer for his company would be nearly impossible.

Ontario Craft Brewer's Simmons said he isn't hearing much support for the initiative from his members.

A number of other breweries, including Great Lakes Brewery, Muskoka Brewery and The Napanee Beer Co., voiced frustration with the initiative and vowed that they wouldn't participate.

"This is voluntary. We aren't forcing breweries to sell for $1", the source said.

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