Québec distillers on the brink: the government promises a remedy

The Treasury Secretary should soon be introducing a bill that would provide regulatory relief to help local alcohol producers who are on the brink of collapse.

• Also read: Small distilleries threatened with closure

On Tuesday, the Union Québécoise des microdistilleries (UQDM) sounded the alarm, arguing that several Quebec producers would go bankrupt before the end of the summer if nothing happens.

Two out of three manufacturers say they are in deficit, particularly because the SAQ requires them to pay a premium of more than 50% of the retail price of the bottle, even if the bottle is sold at the point of manufacture.

The microdistilleries offered to pay the same tax amounts to the Quebec government, but without using a middleman. They believe this would allow local producers to survive and ensure the integrity of the treasury.

The Treasury Secretary’s office claims that in the past distilleries’ surcharge has already been reduced when selling locally, without being able to specify by what percentage.

“Changing the increase could violate trade agreements and put our income and public services at risk,” stressed Fanny Beaudry-Campeau, cabinet spokeswoman.

At the moment this reduction is clearly insufficient and leaves the UQDM unsatisfied.

The spokeswoman for the Office of the Treasury Secretary added that the government will soon table legislation that would allow regulatory relief to support local alcohol producers.

The newspaper tried in vain to find out more about these cuts.

The SAQ stands out

The UMDQ also pointed the finger at the SAQ to denounce the situation. The organization believes that if the property is sold, they will not have to pay her any increase because they do not intervene in any way. Tablet spaces are also becoming less available, which directly impacts profits.

The company defends itself by invoking the trade agreements to which it is bound.

“One of the fundamental requirements of these agreements is the principle of national treatment, which obliges the SAQ to apply an equal increase to products of the same category, regardless of their origin,” explains Clémence Beaulieu-Gendron in an interview with the SAQ.

The spokesman adds that the decision to allow the spirits to be sold on the factory premises was made to provide an additional distribution channel.

“And not to limit SAQ’s activity in inspecting products or depriving the government of the revenue it collects to fund services to the population,” she concludes.

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