B.C. government launches trade challenge of Alberta wine ban

Environment Minister George Heyman and Premier John Horgan address the media about Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's ban on imports of B.C. wines on February 7th. Photo by Global BC/Facebook

VICTORIA, B.C. — Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston announced today that the provincial government has launched a formal challenge against Alberta’s ban on B.C. wines.

Ralston said that B.C. officially filed against the wine ban today through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement’s dispute settlement process, the first formal dispute to occur under the new Agreement since it replaced the Agreement on Internal Trade last April. In addition to the trade challenge, the Province has also proclaimed April as B.C. Wine Month. Government is also increasing opportunities to have B.C. wines in local BC Liquor Stores, including local wines from small and medium producers.

“B.C.’s wine industry is an important contributor to our economy, creating good jobs and other economic benefits for people in B.C.,” Ralston said. “We’re standing by our wine producers and the communities that rely on this important industry by launching a formal trade dispute, and we are confident we will be successful. Alberta’s actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.’s world-class wine industry. These actions are inconsistent with Alberta’s obligations under the CFTA, and we will protect our reputation and the interests of British Columbians.”

B.C.’s wine industry employs around 12,000 people and contributes around $2.8 billion per year to the economy. In 2016, wine exports from B.C. increased 4 percent to $9.7 million.

Alberta launched the ban on imports of B.C. wines after the government announced that it would look at banning increased diluted bitumen shipments while a study was conducted on the impacts a spill would have off the West Coast.