Select Page

19 June 2023 

Hon. Ernie Steeves, Minister of Finance 

Chancery Place 

P. O. Box 6000 

Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1 

Via email: 

Re: Proposed Tax Increase on Craft Alcohol Producers 

Dear Minister Steeves: 

We are writing today jointly as chambers of commerce throughout New Brunswick on behalf of our many members in the craft alcohol production industry. We are extremely concerned with the ANBL’s board of director’s recent decision and subsequent announcement that they are abandoning the crown corporation’s 3-Year Local Producer Strategy only one year into the strategy (which was supported by craft producers).  

Without proper notice or consultation, this decision appears to be arbitrary and placing a much higher burden on craft producers than the strategy entailed. The strategy states: 

Beginning in October 2022, we will implement incremental increases to our markup structure of 2% year over year for the next 10 years across all local categories except ready-to-drink. The goal of having incremental increases instead of one large increase is to help your business adjust over the long term.  

Producers agreed to this predictable tax increase plan, but last week, they received a letter from ANBL VP Paul Henderson that stated, in part: 

This adjustment to the schedule for rate increases means that the average two percentage points increase for local producers within Micro-breweries, Cider, Wine & Spirts category will go into effect on July 17, 2023. We are making this adjustment to the timing of this increase to coincide with a price increase for domestic beer products which will take effect in July simultaneously. There will be no change for coolers/ready to drink products at this time.  

Additionally, the markup structure for local producers will be standardized to a percentage rate instead of a dollar per litre rate to better align with other jurisdictions.  

While the change in timing with very little notice is problematic, the change in markup structure is a critical piece here and means that the actual increase in price will be much higher than the planned 2%. According to the industry, craft products in New Brunswick will now see an increase in tax on their products ranging from 25% to 75%. We would be happy to meet at your convenience to further explain how the proposed changes will produce a much higher tax burden on small, local producers than the 2022 strategy intended. 

The letter from VP Henderson also states: 

…it is still your choice whether you maintain your current case costs, and pass the adjustment on to the customer, or hold your retail prices and adjust your case costs.  

Whatever choice producers make – with grossly inadequate notice – will make them less competitive in the marketplace. Essentially, they can either choose to take less money per case from ANBL or have the increase added to their shelf price at ANBL, meaning they will sell fewer products – also affecting their bottom line.  

This decision at this time is particularly confusing given that ANBL is in the midst of a review of their local producer policy, including involvement with ANBL Craft Advisory Group, which includes producers themselves. Arguably, the tax structure is the most critical piece of any such strategy and therefore it is our position that any deviation from the 2022 strategy be delayed until that review is complete, to work through the review with industry and other stakeholders, and then propose an accurate, transparent process for implementation of any changes that are recommended. 

After years of pandemic, inflation, labour shortages, increasing minimum wage, increasing interest rates and supply chain challenges, this is not the time for a drastic, surprising tax increase that will need to be borne by the producers, the hospitality sector and the New Brunswickers who have chosen to support local products. 

The June 2022 tabling of Auditor General Paul Martin’s report regarding ANBL’s role in the development of the province’s liquor industry reinforces our position that ANBL must participate and engage in the development of the liquor industry in the province. We submit that at a minimum this means engaging with industry on major changes in policy such has been proposed by the board of directors of ANBL. The fact that ANBL has already established an advisory group for this exact purpose gives the appearance that ANBL has been doing just that prior to the board of directors’ current interjection into the process.  


Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce 

John Wishart, CEO, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton 

Vanessa Coggan, Executive Director, Sussex & District Chamber of Commerce 

Julia Halbleib, Executive Director, St. Andrews Chamber of Commerce 

Anthony Azard, CEO, Cap-Acadie Chamber of Commerce 

Cathy Pelletier, Executive Director, Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce 

Annick Robichaud Butland, President, Albert County Chamber of Commerce 

Julie Pinette, Director General, Chaleur Chamber of Commerce 

Jen Gendron, Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce 

Gilles Beaulieu, CEO, Valley Chamber of Commerce 

Cheryl McGraw, Directrice Générale, La Chambre de commerce et du tourisme du Grand Caraquet 

Gaétane Duval, Chair, Chambre de Commerce Haut-Madawaska 

Sheri Somerville, CEO, Atlantic Chamber of Commerce 

cc: Hon. Blaine Higgs, Premier, Province of New Brunswick 

cc: Hon. Hugh J. A. (Ted) Flemming, Minister, Justice 

cc: Hon. Kris Austin, Minister, Public Safety 

cc: Hon. Jeff Carr, Minister, Transportation and Infrastructure 

cc: Hon. Marget Johnson, Minister, Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries 

cc: Hon. Bill Hogan, Minister, Education and Early Childhood Development 

cc: Hon. Arlene Dunn, Minister Responsible, Economic Development and Small Business, Opportunities  

New Brunswick, and Immigration, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs 

cc: Hon. Gary Crossman, Minister, Environment and Climate Change 

cc: Hon. Daniel Allain, Minister, Local Government and Local Governance Reform 

cc: Hon. Bruce Fitch, Minister, Health 

cc: Hon. Jill Green, Minister, Service New Brunswick, Minister Responsible for Housing 

cc: Hon. Trevor Holder, Minister, Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour 

cc: Hon. Tammy Scott-Wallace, Minister, Tourism, Heritage and Culture, Minister Responsible for  

Women’s Equity 

cc: Hon. Mike Holland, Minister, Natural Resources and Energy Development 

cc: Hon. Réjean Savoie, Minister Responsible for the Regional Development Corporation 

cc: Hon. Glen Savoie, Minister Responsible for Francophonie 

cc: Richard Ames, MLA, Carleton-York 

cc: Andrea Anderson-Mason, MLA, Fundy-The-Isles-Saint John West 

cc: Kathy Bockus, MLA, St. Croix 

cc: Michelle Conroy, MLA, Miramichi 

cc: Ryan Cullins, MLA, Fredericton-York 

cc: Mike Dawson, MLA, Southwest Miramichi – Bay du Vin 

cc: Bill Oliver, MLA, Kings Centre 

cc: Réjean Savoie, MLA, Miramichi Bay, Neguac 

cc: Dorothy Shephard, MLA, Saint John Lancaster 

cc: Greg Turner, MLA, Moncton South 

cc: Ross Wetmore, MLA, Gagetown-Petitcodiac 

cc: Mary Wilson, MLA, Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton 

cc: Sherry Wilson, MLA, Moncton Southwest 

Share This