It may soon be a little easier for Saskatchewan brewers to crack open a cold one in Alberta.
Alberta’s been ordered by Canada’s trade panel to end its beer markup.
“The grant program encourages the production and sale of Alberta beer and provides a competitive advantage … over beer produced in other provinces,” the appeal panel wrote in its decision.
In 2016, Alberta’s Finance Minister Joe Ceci introduced grants to help small Alberta producers expand their businesses.
Calgary-based Artisan Ales, which sells imported beer, filed a complaint with the internal trade panel, saying the grants effectively tilted the playing field against those who bring in beer from outside.
The panel upheld an earlier ruling that found the grant program was unfair and offside under free trade rules.
The dispute drew in Saskatchewan, which also argued the program was unfair. It became a bone of contention late last year when Saskatchewan threatened to ban Alberta licence plates from its job sites in retaliation.
“We are very pleased with the decision which confirms that Alberta’s beer market-distorting policies unfairly discriminate against Saskatchewan and Canadian brewers,” Saskatchewan Trade Minister Jeremy Harrison said in a news release Monday.
“We call on the government of Alberta to immediately comply with this ruling, as they have promised, ensuring that brewers from our province and the rest of Canada can compete fairly with Alberta-based brewers.”
Earlier this year, Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said in an interview the province would abide by trade rulings on its beer plan.
— With files from The Canadian Press.