Ottawa creates $166 million aid package for wineries

The federal government is launching a subsidy program for the wine industry, which Ottawa assures us is not intended to compensate for the new excise tax that wineries are now subject to after Canada’s defeat in a dispute with Australia at the World Trade Organization.

Posted at 11:56 am

Michael Saba
The Canadian Press

“The program does not have the same criteria as the excise tax at all, nor the same level,” argued Agriculture and Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau on Wednesday during a press conference at a vineyard in the east boroughs.

The grants, which could reach $166 million over two years, aim to support “the growth and competitiveness” of the industry, she said. For comparison, Ottawa estimates that the excise tax could total $135 million over two years.

“Several countries around the world have programs in place to support production, innovation and the fight against climate change, so this program is part of a much broader vision,” the minister continued.

Canadian wineries that produce cask wine from fresh fruit and have more than $50,000 in winery sales are eligible.

The winemakers could use the funds to “get through this tougher period, perhaps allowing them to acquire new equipment that will, among other things, support their productivity,” explained Bibeau.

However, the minister acknowledged that the program does not require spending on specific projects. “You can really use it to consolidate, innovate and grow your business,” she said.

The past few years have been particularly difficult for Canadian winemakers. Revenue has fallen, suffering from supply chain problems, unpredictable weather and “increased competition from subsidized foreign wines,” listed Dan Paszkowski, president and general manager of Vignerons Canada.

According to Mr. Paszkowski, the new program will stimulate investment and innovation, increase demand and generate significant economic benefits for the country.

Ottawa estimates that there are around 800 wineries in Canada, most of which are located in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

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