The Gleaner

DeBellefeuille stands up for local fruit and maple wine producers

Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille is joining her voice to those of local producers who are calling on the federal government to suspend the excise tax on maple and fruit wines.

The Bloc Québécois pushed for the removal of the excise tax on apple wines (ciders) and honey wines (mead), which was included as part of the 2022 budget, and DeBellefeuille is hopeful the government will extend this policy to include maple and fruit wines in the 2024 budget expected on April 16.

Excise duties are taxes charged on Canadian products such as wine, spirits, beer, and tobacco that are incurred at the point of manufacture. These taxes impact the overall price of a bottle of wine, for example, because the vineyard or winery will include this tax when setting their prices.

The Canadian government introduced an escalator tax in 2017 that subjects alcohol to automatic annual increases that are tied to inflation or the consumer price index. Since then, excise rates have risen seven times by a total of nearly 14 per cent.

Last April, the government announced a temporary one-year cap of two per cent on the excise duties applied to beer, wine, and spirits. According to inflation, the tax should have increased by 4.7 per cent this April 1; however, the federal government announced it will extend the two per cent cap on tax increases for another two years.

As of now, these tax increases apply to fruit and maple wines. An amendment to the Excise Act in 2022 granted a 100-per-cent exemption for wine made from honey or apples, so long as all raw materials present during fermentation were produced in Canada. The addition of fruit or berries other than apples, no matter where they are produced, currently disqualifies the wine from this exemption.


Salaberry Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille is supporting local producers Denis Rousseau and Loïc Chanut in their request that the federal government exempt fruit and maple wines from an imposed excise tax PHOTO The office of Claude DeBellefeuille


“The know-how of our small producers is a source of pride for our region. However, the current tax system is complicated and limits producers’ innovation,” says DeBellefeuille, who refers to the current system as illogical while suggesting it creates “a bureaucratic mess” for producers. “They should be focusing their energies on creating new, original products, not on red tape!” she exclaims.

Within the region, DeBellefeuille is backing local producers such as Loïc Chanut, the co-owner of the Cidrerie Entre Pierre & Terre, and Denis Rousseau, the owner of Black Creek Farm, in their call on Ottawa to recognize fruit and maple wines in the same category as ciders and meads. The Association des producteurs acers du Québec (APAQ) is also requesting their products be exempt from this tax.

“We put all our heart and know-how into our products, and our wines are exclusive, handcrafted products with a sales volume that will never pose a threat to imported products or potential international competitors,” explains Rousseau. He says he hopes the government will listen to reason and stop imposing a double standard on the application of the excise tax on wine products produced from ingredients other than grapes.

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