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Ontario is freezing beer and wine tax increases again for another 2 years. Here's why

Beer products are on display at a Toronto beer store on Thursday, April 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young Beer products are on display at a Toronto beer store on Thursday, April 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
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The Ontario Government says it is once again freezing the tax built into the price of beer and wine, instead of allowing it to adjust for inflation.

The tax does not appear on receipts at the checkout, but it’s built into the price of products that customers see on store shelves.

The beer basic tax and LCBO mark-up rates were set to go up by an estimated 4.6 per cent on March 1, but the province said Friday that they will block the increase.

“From stopping increases to the beer tax to cutting the gas tax, we are keeping costs down for businesses and families across the province,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

The province has blocked the increases, which are pegged to the rate of inflation, for the past six years. It estimates that the move has cost about $200 million.

The latest freeze will be in place for another two years until March 1, 2026.

The province recently announced that it would be expanding alcohol sales to convenience stores by January 1, 2026. The rollout will see beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink alcohol beverages in select convenience, grocery and big box grocery stores across the province.

“Our government is building on its commitment to offer choice and convenience to consumers while providing certainty and stability for the alcohol and hospitality sectors,” Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said in the same statement.

“As we prepare to transition to a new alcohol retail marketplace, this pause on beer basic tax and LCBO mark-up rates will help make it easier for businesses by providing savings for consumers and helping brewers to reinvest in themselves and their workers.”

The government said Friday that it plans to conduct a "targeted review" of taxes and fees on beer, wine and alcoholic beverages over the next few months as it consults with industry partners. It said the aim will be "promoting a more competitive marketplace for Ontario-based producers and consumers."

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