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Raising a glass to Erin O’Toole

Dear Editor,

Over the past two decades, the Canadian wine industry has become one of the biggest successes of Canada’s agri-food sector. Canadian wineries create jobs and boost regional, provincial and national economies alike. The wine and grape industry is responsible for more than 37,000 jobs in Canada, from vineyard and agricultural services and supplies, to, transportation, research, hospitality, and retail. In addition, wine-related tourism welcomes more than 3.7 million visitors each year, generating more than $1.5 billion annually in tourism revenue and employment to the national economy.

Then, the wine sector, like many other industries, was hit — hard — by the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with that, the government announced the end to the excise duty exemption for wine made from 100 percent Canadian grapes.

Today, we can be confident that our sector will recover, thanks to the ongoing support of prominent voices like Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. Time and again, he has brought forward the issues and concerns of the wine industry, proposing solutions that will benefit this region, the province and the country.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts by O’Toole and his caucus, the federal government delivered a program that will address the pending loss of the excise duty exemption and will help us grow back better following the uncertainty created by the pandemic. In its 2021 Budget, the Government of Canada proved that it will continue to be there for Canada’s domestic wine industry, and the jobs it supports, with a robust program that will support wineries in adapting to ongoing and emerging challenges. The new program will help every winery and every grower across Canada.

We are also appreciative that MP O’Toole is working with the industry to complete the final details of the winery support program and is working to ensure the program is fully funded and extended beyond two years to remove uncertainty and to protect and create long term jobs and growth.

Province-wide, the grape and wine sector generates more than 18,000 jobs in Ontario. Erin knows how essential the sector is to the region and was untiring in his efforts to ensure that the sector continues to prosper.

We raise our glass to him!

Dan Paszkowski, President and CEO, Wine Growers Canada