Changes to Liquors Act allows beer and spirits to cross borders

PENTICTON – New changes announced today by the Federal Government will allow people to buy beer and spirits  in provinces where they don’t live and bring them home for personal use.  The changes were announced in Penticton Friday afternoon by the Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay and Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas.

“We are a trading nation.  Canada has trade agreements with 10 countries and is negotiating with more than 60 others around the world, but we need to make trade easier within our own borders,” says Findlay.  “This is why our Government has eliminated federal restrictions allowing Canadians to take beer and spirits across provincial lines, just like we did in 2012 for wine.”

Amendments to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA) remove federal barriers and reduce red tape.  The amendments were adopted as part of the Government’s Economic Action Plan 2014 and follow the Government’s elimination of similar barriers in 2012 in order to permit the interprovincial movement of wine for personal use.

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The red tape reduction will also benefit independent breweries and distilleries in communities across Canada by opening up regional markets and generating jobs.  In Canada, there are more than 485 federally licensed breweries and nearly 150 distilleries.

“Breaking down trade barriers gives our local breweries and distelleries the opportunity to be competitive in national markets, thus fostering growth and creating jobs in our community,” says Albas. “I am pleased to participate in today’s event and look forward to seeing the next steps the federal Government takes to reduce red tape for Canadian businesses.”

The federal Government is now encouraging all provinces to support the measure and enact the necessary laws to facilitate it.  That’s because the movement, sale, purchase and possession of wine, beer and spirits is governed by provincial liquor laws within each individual province.  With the previous wine amendment in 2012, only British Columbia and Manitoba changed their laws to allow personal importation of wine.

As for commercial purposes, under the IILA, imports of alcohol must be done by a provincial liquor board or other agency authorized by the province to sell alcohol.  This provision has not changed as a result of the amendments.

The IILA is a federal law that controls the importation of beer, wine and spirits into Canada and between provinces.  It was enacted in 1928 at the request of the provinces after the revocation of their liquor prohibition laws.

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