Winemakers contributing to economy

Take a few grapes, crush them, bottle the elixir and voila, you have a recipe for some great economic success.
The British Columbia Wine Institute, which is chaired by the passionate Josie Tyabji and hardworking Executive Director Miles Prodan, recently forwarded me the results of the largest research study ever conducted on the Canadian wine and grape industry. 
Commissioned by the Canadian Vintners Association, the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario, the British Columbia Wine Institute and the Winery Association of Nova Scotia, the report entitled Canada’s Wine Economy – Ripe Robust Remarkable confirms the wine industry has become a large and significant contributor to the overall Canadian economy, especially in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
According to the study’s findings, the Canadian wine industry generates an impressive $6.8 billion in economic activity, making it a significant driver of the Canadian economy.
The study finds that for every bottle of wine produced in Canada, approximately $31 of domestic economic impact is generated, creating more than 31,000 Canadians jobs and generating $1.2 billion in federal and provincial tax revenue and liquor board markup.   In taxes alone, the industry contributes $879 million annually.
Not only do Canadians enjoy more than 1 billion glasses or 220 million bottles of wine produced by the Canadian wine industry each year, but Canada welcomes over 3,000,000 visitors every year through the wine economy, more than four times the number of visitors to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, generating $1.2 billion in tourism and tourism employment related economic impact.
With over 1,600 vineyards on more than 26,000 acres of land dedicated to viticulture, Canada’s wine consumption in Canada is growing faster than spirits and beer. And even though Canadian wine industry sales represent only 30% of all wine sold across Canada, there is a significant opportunity for growth.
Here in British Columbia, the BC wine industry alone generates $2.0 billion in economic impact employing more than 10,000 people and contributing $222 million in taxes.
212 BC wineries welcome over 800,000 visitors every year through the wine economy, and generate $476 million in tourism and tourism employment related economic impact.
As for our wine consumption, British Columbians enjoy more than 234 million glasses or 47 million bottles of Canadian wine each year.
It’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come.
I can remember the late 1980's, when old grape vines were being pulled out because of NAFTA. Yet, there were the believers.  Undaunted, a few saw the potential and re-planted with new varieties, confident they could produce wines that would compete with the rest of the world.
Today, because of the spirit and determination of those entrepreneurs, the Okanagan is synonymous with exceptional winemaking.  Some of the best and brightest winemakers in the world call the Okanagan home, producing the kind of product that is sought after internationally, shipping record volumes of wine around the world, and overseeing vineyards that are on the cutting edge of innovation.
The industry has also successfully leveraged federal government support, making advances in research and innovation and exploiting greater trade and market access opportunities. Through the Developing Innovative Agri-Products program, BC grape producers are improving pest and disease measures and enhancing grape quality.  
Under the AgriMarketing program, Canada’s grape and wine producers are implementing a long-term international marketing strategy and tapping into international markets for their top quality products. As well, the federal government fully supported legislation which removed import barriers for Canadian wineries who want to sell directly to Canadian consumers. While progress has been slow, in time,  I trust provinces like Ontario will follow the lead of BC and Manitoba and allow more Canadians the opportunity to get to know and enjoy some of the great award winning vintages produced by some of our smallest and best vintners. 
There is no doubt that progress on this front will support a greater demand for home-grown products, boosting the growth of wine and culinary tourism in wine producing areas, and providing an even wider range of benefits, including the creation of more full- and part-time jobs, and the generation of secondary economic activity.
The fact is Canadian winemakers, especially here in the Okanagan, are getting it right. We owe our innovative vintners a big thanks and our highest respect, for not only contributing significantly to our national, regional and local economies, but also for making Canada and the Okanagan one of the premier wine and culinary tourism destinations for people around the world.
Congratulations to all our local wineries for the great value you add to our community and country!
For anyone interested in reading the full report, please go to www.canadianvintners.com .
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country. If you have any questions or comments on federally-related matters, please contact Ron at [email protected] or by phone at 470-5075.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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