It wasn’t until last Friday, March 31, when I was on a video chat with my cousin, that I learned of the alcohol tax increase sweeping the nation on April 1.
During the wine (and gossip) sessions with my cousin, we giggle and cackle as we discuss what’s happening in our lives. This time, her husband was on the call and casually referenced the booze tax. I thought he was joking but I checked out the news while we talked and was surprised because I’d heard nothing of it.
The conversation led me to think about alcohol in other places where it’s not so policed by the government as it is here.
Many years ago, in Mexico, I went on a “booze cruise” and was handed a Jell-o shot at 10 a.m. I remember feeling like I was doing something wrong because, at the time, the very strict rule in Manitoba was no drinking or buying alcohol before 11 a.m. Never, never, never. Bad, bad, bad. Essentially, I was brainwashed thanks to our government.
Now, when I’m in West Hollywood and step outside onto Santa Monica Boulevard and hang a left to CVS or hang a right to Trader Joe’s, I can casually stroll the aisles and get a bottle of wine for $3 any time of day. Really.
I don’t need to be buzzed into a locked vestibule and have my ID held up to my head like I’m going through customs at the airport just to buy an overpriced libation. (Though that process might be more about the hooligans in Manitoba.)
So, as the federal budget was announced and the alcohol tax increased, it led taxpayers to question why the government raises taxes but then gives us “credits” (meaning support cheques) because the cost of living is going up.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s office sent a press release on Monday saying in part, “The new Grocery Rebate … will help build an economy that works for everyone. The rebate is part of a suite of measures proposed in Budget 2023 to help make life more affordable for Canadians.”
You could argue that groceries are different than alcohol — but are they? Remember, cannabis and booze were considered “essential” products during COVID shutdowns. You couldn’t buy kitchen utensils but you could get your weed at the store. (I realize different COVID measures were implemented by the federal and respective provincial governments.)
Last October, I wrote in this column: “It’s interesting to watch Question Period when the subject of inflation and/or grocery prices comes up and Prime Minister Trudeau always answers that his government is putting money back into the pockets of Canadians. Problem is, he dodges the actual point: Do something about pricing.”
At the time, the Competition Bureau was launching a study “with the goal of recommending measures that governments can take to help improve competition in the sector.” The timely results are expected this June. Timing is everything, right? Canadians have been suffering for how long?
The government claims to have compassion for the financial struggles of Canadians so they send us a couple hundred bucks… while increasing taxes. We’re given money and then having more taken from us.
I’m not a math guy but…