Originally published to BNN.ca on Sept. 15, 2017
The CEO of Andrew Peller Limited says Ontario needs to stop treating the wine-making business as a “tax problem.”
Compared to other provinces, Ontario’s treatment of the wine business is holding back investment, said Peller, CEO of Canada’s second largest winery in an interview with BNN.
“It’s hard not to acknowledge that B.C.’s policies support the wine industry and its growth,” the company’s chief executive John Peller told BNN in an interview on Thursday. “Their policies are more competitive with the policies around the world – in California and Australia. In Ontario there’s a sense that the government is more interested in taxing our industry or seeing us as a tax problem.”
Last week Andrew Peller (ADWa.TO) signed agreements to acquire B.C.’s Grey Monk Estate, Black Hills Estate and also signed a let of intent to acquire Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. Together the deals are worth about $95 million.
Peller said the acquisitions are not an attempt to move away from the company’s Ontario roots. However, when it comes to the wine business, he says B.C. has a more supportive investment climate than Ontario.
“We don’t have good policies and I think it’s holding investment back in this region,” he said.
Peller told BNN that further taxing the wine industry – which he says already pays five times more tax than other products – moves counter to the liberalized stance taken by both the provincial and federal governments of late. He added that the increased availability of alcohol in grocery stores and the legalization of marijuana are an encouraging sign of easing up on the industry.
“There are lots of challenges there but I think going forward I think the market will open up and liberalize,” Peller told BNN. “I think the old practices of prohibition and ‘sin taxes’ are about to go away. I mean, they’re legalizing marijuana, so I feel that from a policy perspective we’re going to take advantage of the liberalizing of the market.”
Peller added that the industry can contribute to growth in the province, including jobs and tourism.
“We know that there’s phenomenal potential for growth in Ontario,” Peller said. “We can triple the size of our industry over the next 30, 40 years. That includes its tourism, its indirect employment benefits.”
“So, the government has every reason to want to get focused on creating jobs and growth and investment and moving away from seeing us as a tax problem.”