Alcohol Prices Are About To Go Up Across Canada — Here's What You Need To Know

You'll soon have more to wine about. 🍷

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Someone carries a massive tray with cups of beer.

Someone carries a massive tray with cups of beer.

You'll need to allocate more toward your booze budget as of April 1 — higher alcohol taxes are brewing across the country. The annual price inflation of beer, wine and liquor will see rates rise by just over six percent. That's either a good reason to cut back on your consumption or find ways to imbibe for less.

Here's what you need to know:

Why are prices going up?

Canada introduced an annual escalator tax on alcohol sales in 2017 that allows the federal government to increase taxes each year to match inflation. As of April 1, the rate will increase to 6.3% — the highest jump in over three decades.

The country already has some of the highest alcohol taxes in the world. According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, federal or provincial taxes make up 47% of the average price of beer, 65% of the average price of wine and 80% of the average price of spirits.

Didn't alcohol costs in Quebec already go up?

The SAQ raised beer, wine and liquor prices last November citing increased production costs for suppliers, shipping costs and the depreciation of the euro. The crown corporation can increase prices twice a year (spring and fall).

Alcohol in Quebec is taxed by volume, with beer taxed 36 cents per litre and other alcoholic beverages taxed 72 cents per litre. Other provinces tax the purchase price of alcohol at rates varying from 5% in New Brunswick to 25% in PEI.

Will drink prices go up at bars?

Some bars and restaurants could raise alcohol prices to make up for the added cost incurred by the federal alcohol tax hike, but also to balance out rising supply chain costs across the board.

Restaurants Canada indicates that 43% of the industry is still operating at a loss amid "post-pandemic operational challenges like inflation, labour shortages and supply chain hurdles."

How can I save money on alcohol?

The rising federal alcohol tax may not cost you that much more on an individual trip to buy beer or wine, but it could add up over time. So, if you're looking for ways to keep your booze spending down here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Imported beer will cost you more than domestic drafts;
  • Cut your premium liquor purchase(s) down to the bottle(s) you'll consume without a mixer;
  • Store brand wine and younger vintages are often just as good as name brands;
  • Either bringing your own bottle or skipping the bar and having a drink at home will cost you less.

Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an award-winning writer, editor and former radio journalist with a passion for finding hidden gems in the city.