For months, Attorney General Suzanne Anton has been claiming that most wines, spirits, and beers would cost the same or are lower under a new wholesale-pricing model.
But today, NDP Leader John Horgan called that another broken promise, pointing to numerous beer-price hikes.
And Horgan's liquor-policy critic, David Eby, has claimed that nearly 90 percent of beer listings have gone up significantly since March 31.
According to the NDP, 74 beer products are up more than 10 percent. Another 123 beer products are up five to 10 percent. And 219 beer products are up from one to five percent.
Examples from the NDP politicians include:
• Phillip Brewery Octofox: up 10.67 percent.
• Six-pack of Bomber Brewing ESB: up 9.21 percent.
• Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter: up 20.13 percent.
• Tree Brewery Thirsty Beaver: up 16.84 percent.
Eby claimed that only 19 beers remained at the same price and eight percent of products are cheaper—primarily those from outside the province, such as Budweiser and Coors Light.
“The Attorney General’s promise that government could increase wholesale prices for retailers but that the retail price wouldn’t go up was always nonsense," Eby said in a party news release. "British Columbia’s craft beer industry and beer fans generally are drinking a bitter brew of higher prices because of this government’s stealth beer tax.”
The NDP news release came a day after Anton attended the official opening of Red Truck Beer Company's brewery and Truck Stop Diner on East 1st Avenue in Vancouver.
There, she talked about the growth of the craft-brewing sector, noting the number of breweries in Vancouver has doubled to 26 in just over two years.
"There are so many people who've benefited from the changes that we are making—things like opening up farmers markets to liquor sales," Anton said at the event.
She also cited the government's regulatory change permitting breweries to have on-site lounges where customers can enjoy a full brew rather than just a sample.
In addition, Anton praised the new "graduated scale for the wholesale-pricing markup for breweries". She said that this eliminated "cliffs" that breweries faced in pricing when they increased production past a certain point.
She even suggested that a "quality-assurance program" might be created for craft breweries similar to the VQA program that exists for B.C. wines.
"Industry consultation will be an important part of the conversation," Anton promised.
Horgan, however, likened the rise in beer prices to hikes in hydro rates, ferry fares, medical-service premiums, ICBC levies, and park fees.
"The first thing Attorney General Suzanne Anton said when she changed the liquor-price system was to promise that retail beer prices wouldn’t go up," Horgan stated. "With her track record, that was pretty much a guarantee prices would go up—and just two months later they have.”