February 1, 2018
Provinces and territories can introduce taxation measures on the retail sale of alcohol
Inside this alcohol policy pack
- Background evidence: Alcohol and cancer
- Evidence-informed alcohol policy actions to reduce alcohol consumption in Canada
- Key statistics: Alcohol consumption in Canada’s largest cities
- Key statistics: Alcohol consumption in provinces and territories
- Public perceptions: Alcohol and cancer
- Economic evidence to support alcohol policy
- Indicators to measure progress on alcohol policy
Taxes and other disincentives on alcohol
Use pricing policies such as excise tax increases on alcoholic beverages1,2,3,4
Imposition or increase of taxes and other disincentives on alcoholic drinksa,1,2
Degree of adoption in Canada
Current actions in Canada
Adoption of evidence-informed policy action related to taxation of alcohol across Canada is medium. Over half of Canada’s provinces and territories have imposed taxes specific to the purchase of alcohol. However, increasing these taxes on a regular basis to act as a disincentive for purchasing, like what is done for tobacco, has not been a strong focus of governments to this point.
All provinces and territories have implemented retail sales taxes on the purchase of alcohol. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Yukon have implemented additional taxes specific to the purchase of alcohol. Quebec taxes alcohol at a rate per millilitre of beverage purchased and has separate tax rates for beer and other types of alcohol.
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Yukon tax the total purchase price. Ontario taxes alcohol by both volume and total purchase price and has separate tax rates for wine and beer. Please refer to the taxation summary table for more information.
1- World Cancer Research Fund International (2009). Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/Policy_Report.pdf
2- World Health Organization (2013). Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases. Retrieved from:
3- Cancer Care Ontario (2016). Prevention System Quality Index. Retrieved from: https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/statistical-reports/prevention-system-quality-index
4- Public Health Ontario/Cancer Care Ontario (2012). Taking Action to Prevent Chronic Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.ccohealth.ca/en/report-taking-action-to-prevent-chronic-disease
a- Community Preventive Services Task Force (2007) Systematic Review: Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Increasing Alcohol Taxes