TORONTO — Ontario is establishing a $4.9-million support program for small distillers and cideries.
The program will give eligible distillers up to $4.42 per litre of sales made to the LCBO, to establishments with liquor licences, and at on-site retail stores.
Cideries will get up to 74 cents per litre on sales made to the LCBO and restaurants, bars and venues with liquor licences.
Both distillers and cideries can receive up to $220,000 per year.
The Ontario Craft Cider Association, which represents 27 craft cider makers, says the program will help independent, small producers increase their capacity and hire more staff.
Spirits Canada says the "financial relief" is welcome.
"Today's announcement is a tacit admission that taxes, levies and mark-ups on spirits in Ontario are excessive and constitute a significant barrier to entry," Jan Westcott, president and CEO of Spirits Canada, said in a statement.
The Ontario Craft Distillers group called the announcement "a good step forward to improve the competitive landscape."
In the last fiscal year, sales from small distillers increased 62 per cent and craft ciders grew 54 per cent from the previous year.
"Ontario's cider and spirits industry is growing at an exciting pace," Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in a statement. "The Ontario Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program will provide small businesses with additional tools to help them succeed."
The Canadian Press