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Alcohol is about to get more expensive in Canada. Can the price hike be stopped?

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Canadian residents might notice that their next trip to the liquor store sets them back further than usual.

On April 1, the federal government's annual escalator excise tax will go into effect, raising the price of beer, wine, and spirits by just over six per cent.

While buying a few beers at The Beer Store in Markham, Ont., customer Scott Maple told CTV News Toronto he didn't support the price hike.

“I really hope they don't implement that,” Maple told CTV News Toronto. “It just seems so unnecessary at this time.”

Some brewers and consumers are hoping the tax can be stopped before it goes into effect.

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), taxes already make up 50 per cent of the cost of beer, 65 per cent of the cost of wine, and 75 per cent of the cost of spirits.

"Canadians are already paying enough tax, more than enough tax every time you buy a pint of beer," Franco Terrazzano, federal director of CTF, told CTV News Toronto.

The CTF is calling on the federal government to scrap the alcohol tax increase.

Terrazzano noted that the price hike would go into effect the same day that Members of Parliament and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would get a raise.

“On the very day the carbon and alcohol tax are to go through, Members of Parliament are taking their fourth pay raise since the start of the pandemic," he said.

Beer Canada, a lobby group for brewing companies, believes there is still time to stop the alcohol tax increase when the federal budget is tabled on March 28.

“There is an opportunity for the Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland to do the right thing and recognize that the automatic increase that is in law today, was not meant to be applied in circumstances like these2," CJ Helie, president of Beer Canada, said.

The Federal Conservative leader and leader of the official opposition, Pierre Poilievre, has said that “Conservatives believe this is the worst possible time to raise taxes,” stating that “planned tax increases on alcohol should be cancelled.”

Even some liberal MPs said they're hearing from their constituents that the tax hike should be stopped, or at least reduced.

Peter Fragiskatos, the Liberal MP for London North Centre, agrees with reducing the alcohol tax.

“I don't believe the tax increase should go ahead and I don't think it should be tied to the rate of inflation," Fragiskatos said.

If the tax does go through some pubs and restaurants say it will impact their bottom line as they continue to try and financially recover from the pandemic.

Even if the tax doesn't go through, beer, wine, and liquor prices are still likely to increase due to transportation, energy, and packaging costs. Beer Canada says beer prices could rise another 10 per cent in 2023.

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