July 19, 2016
We are writing you to congratulate you on your progress in developing a new and modernized Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). This agreement will have a positive impact on the entire country, increasing Canada’s overall competitiveness and economic success. While we are very pleased that the federal, provincial and territorial governments have made strides in tackling internal barriers, we were disheartened to learn that alcohol may be excluded from the agreement.
It has been four years since the passage of Bill C-311, which amended the “Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act” enacted in 1928. As you know, the amendments removed federal restrictions which prohibited individuals from moving wine from one province to another when purchased for personal use; however, with the exception of British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, the remaining provinces have upheld their internal trade barriers for wine.
As economic stewards for your provinces and territories, you will recognize the impact of value-added production and the increasing value consumers are placing on Canadian products. Imported wines represent 70% of all wine sold in Canada, so providing a new option for consumers to access Canada’s 671 wineries is critical to our industry’s ability to meet consumer expectations, grow and create jobs. Eliminating internal barriers would also increase our sector’s overall ability to compete, as imports find the Canadian marketplace increasingly attractive through free trade agreement tariff reductions.
Today, Canadian wineries must refuse Canadian customers the ability to have their wine delivered, yet they are legally enabled to ship directly to their international customers and tourists. This means that more than 70% of Canadians are not only denied the right to order wines directly from their favourite out-of-province winery, they are also restricted from taking advantage of winery wine clubs and special releases, all of which are unavailable from liquor retailers.
The time has come for all provinces to endorse the spirit of Bill C-311 and legalize direct winery-to-consumer inter-provincial shipment of wine for personal use. This will augment, not replace, the existing liquor board retail system, while providing wine consumers with access to a greater selection of Canadian wines. It is good for consumers, wineries and the Canadian economy.
We remain hopeful that a positive decision on inter-provincial delivery is approved in Whitehorse, but if this is not possible, we urge Canada’s Premiers to act quickly to announce an agreement in principle that will ensure all Canadians have the ability to enjoy inter-provincial wine delivery by July 1, 2017, when Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.
President and Chief Executive Officer
About the Canadian Vintners Association
CVA is the national voice of the Canadian wine industry, representing more than 90% of Canada’s annual wine production. CVA members are engaged in the entire wine value chain: from grape growing, farm management, grape harvesting, research, wine production, bottling, retail sales and tourism. (www.canadianvintners.com)