Canadians, and their local restaurants and pubs, already pay some of the highest alcohol taxes anywhere in the world. Next April 1, the government is going to want even more money from cash-strapped Canadians and desperate small business owners.

The timing could not be any worse as the global pandemic continues to crater the Canadian economy. Just as households are struggling to make ends meet and local restaurants are disappearing, the federal government continues to apply an automatic tax increase on beer, wine and spirits.

 “Surely, amid a global pandemic and a once-a-century economic downturn, there is cause to stop an automatic tax increase to ensure we help everyday Canadians to cope with the impacts of COVID-19. That’s why asking the government to freeze this unfair tax increase to give consumers a break and to support the economic recovery of Canadian bars, restaurants and domestic producers,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Few Canadians are aware that the alcohol escalator tax automatically increases the excise duty rate on beer, wine and spirits every year on April 1. This automatic yearly increase was introduced by the federal government in Budget 2017 without any consultation or economic analysis of its impact on consumers, the food service industry, producers and their agricultural suppliers.

Canadians and business owners believe this automatic increase is unfair under normal circumstances, and inexcusable amid COVID-19. That is why the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Beer Canada, Spirits Canada and various Canadian hospitality industry businesses launched the Freeze the Alcohol Tax campaign, which calls on the federal government to put an end to the unfair alcohol escalator tax in the next federal budget and give Canadians a much-deserved break.

“Hotels, restaurants and bars having been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with over a million jobs lost and thousands of restaurants closed permanently. Keeping the escalator tax in place does nothing but cause harm to businesses and the thousands of Canadians they employ,” says Luke Chapman, Interim President of Beer Canada

“Canadians wouldn’t stand for automatic tax increases on their take home pay, and they shouldn’t stand for it on their favourite Canadian whisky or cocktail that they enjoy as they socialize or celebrate key life moments with family and friends. Canadians elect parliamentarians to scrutinize how money is collected as well as spent, and taxes going up without such scrutiny is completely undemocratic”, said Jan Westcott President of Spirits Canada.

The Freeze the Alcohol Tax is a campaign led by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and is supported by:

  • Arterra Wines Canada
  • Barley Council of Canada
  • Beer Canada
  • Big Rig
  • Boston Pizza
  • CWB Franchise Finance
  • Firkin Group of Pubs
  • Foodtastic
  • Grain Growers of Canada
  • Northland Restaurant Group
  • Ontario Federation of Agriculture
  • Restaurants Canada
  • Service Inspired Restaurants (SIR Corp)
  • Spirits Canada
  • St. Louis Bar and Grill Restaurants
  • The Beer Store

For more information on the Freeze the Alcohol Tax campaign, who is already involved and what you can do to help, visit:


About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.


For more information, please contact:
Phil Taylor (preferred and fastest response time)