Alcohol policies

Alcohol price and taxes are the most important policy levers to combat consumption and harms, including cancer

Alcohol tax rates

iconAlcohol price and taxes are the most important policy levers to combat consumption and harms, including cancer.1 Higher alcohol prices are strongly associated with lower alcohol consumption.2 Consumption can be reduced by increasing the price of strong alcohol and lowering the price for light alcohol.3

Canada is one of a few countries to adopt minimum alcohol pricing.

Pricing and taxation is one of the eight policy domains that are explored under Policy actions.

Provincial and territorial alcohol tax rates

All provinces and territories have implemented retail sales taxes on the purchase of alcohol.

Jurisdiction Tax rate (% of purchase price) Volumetric tax rate (cents per litre) Flat tax (cents)
New Brunswick 5% n/a n/a
Prince Edward Island 25% n/a n/a
Quebec* n/a Beer: 36 cents/L
Other alcoholic beverages: 72 cents/L
n/a
ON (beer and wine, spirits) 6.1% (Ontario wine purchased retail)
20.1% (Non-Ontario wine purchased retail)
11.1% (Ontario wine purchased from boutique)
26.6% (Non-Ontario wine purchased from boutique)
61.5% (Spirits)
Ontario beer made by beer manufacturers
72.45 cents/L (draft), 89.74 cents/L (non-draft) for Ontario-manufactured beer
35.96 cents/L (draft), 39.75 cents/L (non-draft) for beer made by microbrewers
33.41 cents/L (brewpubs)
29 cents/L (wine coolers)
38 cents/L (spirits)
8.93 cents (environmental tax on non-refillable containers)
Saskatchewan 10% n/a n/a
British Columbia 10% n/a n/a
Yukon 12% n/a n/a

Federal alcohol tax rates

The federal government is responsible for establishing federal tax rates on alcoholic beverages.

Type of alcoholic beverage Effective April 1, 2020 April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019
Spirits containing no more than 7% of absolute ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per litre of spirits) $0.32 $0.31 $0.31
Spirits containing more than 7% of absolute ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per litre of absolute ethyl alcohol) $12.61 $12.38 $12.11
Wine containing no more than 1.2% of absolute ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per litre of wine) $0.02 $0.02 $0.02
Wine containing more than 1.2%, but no more than 7%, of absolute ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per litre of wine) $0.32 $0.31 $0.31
Wine containing more than 7% of absolute ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per litre of wine) $0.67 $0.65 $0.64
Beer containing no more than 1.2% of ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per hectolitre) $2.79 $2.74 $2.68
Beer containing more than 1.2%, but not more than 2.5%, of absolute ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per hectolitre) $16.83 $16.52 $16.16
Beer containing more than 2.5% of ethyl alcohol by volume (rate per hectolitre) $33.66 $33.03 $32.32

Annual and per capita sales of alcohol and the percentage of adults exceeding cancer guidelines – 2018-2019

Annual and per-capita sales of alcohol and the percentage of adults exceeding cancer guidelines vary per jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction Dollar value for total sales Dollar value for total per capita sales Percentage of adults, 18 years and older who reported exceeding cancer guidelines for alcohol consumption*
Canada $23,624,326 $759.8
British Columbia $3,573,122 $833.0 8.1
Alberta $2,595,190 $743.6 8.6
Saskatchewan $638,017 $682.1 7.7
Manitoba $792,334 $722.1 8.5
Ontario $8,791,427 $729.3 7.4
Quebec $5,526,923 $782.4 9.8
New Brunswick $432,986 $656.5 6.0E
Nova Scotia $628,798 $763.1 7.9
Prince Edward Island $80,026 $618.2 7.3E
Newfoundland and Labrador $457,206 $1,009.7 8.6
Yukon $40,038 $1,185.0 11.7
Northwest Territories $52,822 $1,473.7 16.2
Nunavut $15,437 $595.2 8.0E

*Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines for cancer recommends no more than 2 drinks per day for men and no more than 1 drink per day
for women.

EInterpret with caution due to large variability in the estimates.


  • 1 - Stockwell T, Leng J, Sturge J. Alcohol Pricing and Public Health in Canada: Issues and Opportunities. Victoria, BC: Centre for Addictions Research of BC, University of Victoria; 2006. Cited 30 January 2021. Available from: https:// www.uvic.ca/research/centres/cisur/assets/docs/ report-alcohol-pricing-public-health-cnd.pdf.
    2 - Giesbrecht N, Wettlaufer A, Thomas G, Stockwell T, Thompson K, April N et al. Pricing of alcohol in Canada: A comparison of provincial policies and harm-reduction opportunities. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2015;35(3):289-297.
    3 - Ibid.