I spent some time on the BCWineChat website considering tonight’s topic regarding the Economic Impact of the Canadian Wine Industry. I understand the catalyst for this topic was the recently published Economic Impact Study on the Canadian wine industry completed by Frank, Rimerman and Co. LLP, a US-based certified public accounting firm which provides various services including wine industry research and consulting. As a non-accountant with minimal knowledge of the methodology of the economic analysis of an industry, to me, the study confirms what I believe most people feel is the case, the wine industry undoubtedly has a serious impact on our provincial and national economy. With a full national economic impact of $6.8 billion in terms of revenue, taxes and wages, of which $3.69 billion can be attributed to 100% Canadian wine, I think everyone in the industry should take a much deserved bow/curtsey and be congratulated on a job very well done. The Canadian wine industry and more specifically, the BC wine industry, has come a long way since the time of Prohibition when alcoholic beverages were banned altogether. The industry has developed into an important economically significant commercial enterprise. The industry adds value to our collective wealth and resources, promotes tourism, creates jobs and generates revenues.
Often economic impact studies are completed at the time legislative changes are proposed or requested at the behest of a person lobbying for change. This study was commissioned by the Canadian Vintners Association, Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, BC Wine Institute and Winery Association of Nova Scotia. Given the study results, it would be nice to see the promotion and growth of the industry further supported by federal government legislative changes which enforce the principles of economic unity among the provinces and territories as it relates to intoxicating beverages and support of interprovincial commerce and the shipment of wine between provinces beyond the personal consumption exemption. Additional support from the provinces would also be a welcome outcome, as various provincial governments enact legislative changes which modernize our liquor laws and fully recognize how the industry has and continues to change and develop from the days of Prohibition. Much like the “living tree doctrine” I learned in a law school class some time ago, like our Constitution, the wine industry should be treated as organic and must be handled in a broad and progressive manner, adapting to the changing times.
I for one am pleased to see quantifiable and tangible economic impact for our wine industry and hope the corresponding outcomes are reflective of the results. To join the discussion and to share your thoughts on the study, head to Twitter tonight, Wednesday March 13th, from 8-9pm and search #BCWineChat.