B.C. broke its promise and hiked beer prices, NDP says
Published Thursday, June 4, 2015 6:34PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 4, 2015 6:44PM PDT
New Democrats are blasting the B.C. government for hiking beer prices just in time for summer.
According to the NDP, the vast majority of beers have become more expensive since the Liberals’ price changes came into effect April 1, despite Attorney General Suzanne Anton’s promise that consumers wouldn’t see a significant difference at the tills.
Dozens of beers cost over 10 per cent more than they did in March, the NDP revealed Thursday, and hundreds of others have seen smaller hikes.
Opposition leader John Horgan said the realities of the province’s oft-touted liquor reform are finally setting in.
“After two years of good news announcements the bad news has come home and beer prices are going up,” Horgan said.
“It’s a tax grab, plain and simple, and it’s going to be on the backs of consumers.”
The NDP counted 74 beer products that increased in price by more than 10 per cent, 123 that increased between five and 10 per cent, and 219 that increased between one and five per cent.
The biggest spikes came to craft beers that have become a favourite among many beer-drinkers in B.C. A bottle of Penticton’s Cannery Blackberry Porter, for instance, increased from $4.57 to $5.49.
MLA David Eby, the NDP’s liquor policy spokesman, said only 19 beers were unchanged and just eight per cent – largely beers brewed outside B.C., such as Budweiser and Coors Light – actually decreased.
Eby said the province all but ensured consumers would be paying more by hiking wholesale prices on many beers for both private and public retailers on April 1.
“The Attorney General’s promise that government could increase wholesale prices for retailers but that the retail price wouldn’t go up was always nonsense,” Eby said.
The province’s changes amount to a “stealth beer tax,” he added.
Calls to Anton were not returned, but she provided an email statement saying the government is focused on “creating a competitive marketplace that will benefit consumers.”
“Let’s put things in perspective: every month, some prices go up and some prices go down – just as any other retail cost of good – but we’re talking about cents here,” Anton said.
The province has tried to support craft beer brewers by cutting red tape for getting licences, she added.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Peter Grainger