Posted January 19, 2017

An open letter to The Honourable Mr. Jeff Leal RE: provincial funding to Labatt and Sleeman

January 19, 2017

The Honourable Mr. Jeff Leal
Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Government of Ontario, Queens Park
77 Grenville Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 1B3

Dear Minister Leal,

On Monday January 16, 2017 it was announced that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), as part of the Growing Forward 2 program (, awarded two non-Canadian (and therefore non-Ontario) brewing companies a total of $214,938.76 in provincial funding.

A total of $176,724.16 was awarded to Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., owned since 1995 by multinational company Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has a market capitalization of $177.46 billion USD.

A total of $38,214.60 was granted to Sleeman Breweries Ltd., owned since 2006 by Japan-based Sapporo Holdings Ltd, which has a market capitalization of $229.76 billion JPY.

Only eight Ontario-based brewing companies were awarded funding of $562,601.17.

There are a total of approximately 200 bricks-and-mortar, locally-owned small breweries in Ontario that, in my opinion, would have benefited from the $214,938.76 allotted to the aforementioned non-Canadian brewing companies.

I would like to know why the decision was made to grant these non-Ontario businesses funding, as part of an Ontario-sponsored funding initiative, instead of  locally-owned breweries.

Please respectfully advise at your earliest convenience, Mr. Leal.

Yours Sincerely,

Ontario Beverage Network

Christina Crowley-Arklie, OMAFRA, The Office of the Honourable Jeff Leal
Francis Drouin, MP Glengarry-Prescott-Russell
Grant Crack, MPP Glengarry-Prescott-Russell
Kristy Denette, OMAFRA, Communications Branch
John Hay, President, Ontario Craft Brewers
Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

Response from the Honorable Mr Jeff Leal:

February 21, 2017

Thank you for your email regarding Growing Forward 2 (GF2) funding. I am pleased to respond.

The food and beverage processing industry contributes $12.1 billion to the province’s gross domestic product and supports over 96,000 jobs in more than 3,800 business locations across the province. With the province having access to 142 million consumers within a day’s drive, we know that Ontario is a prime location for food and beverage processing companies.

Our government’s top priority is to grow the economy and create jobs for Ontarians. Investing in the food and beverage processing sector is key to encouraging continued growth in the sector and to support job creation across the province. That is why we strive to create a business environment that attracts investment.

Our focus is also on competing on a global basis to attract investment and talent to Ontario. With more than $14 billion in exports, Ontario’s food and beverage sector knows how to grow and manufacture food products wanted by consumers around the world. With its easy access to global markets and ingredients, competitive costs and innovative research climate, Ontario has emerged as an efficient North American hub for global business.

Our investments in Ontario’s agri-food sector include GF2, a federal-provincial-territorial program. GF2 investments will help Ontario’s agri-food sector compete and grow, and create or sustain jobs by supporting innovation, competitiveness and market development in Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector.

GF2 is a merit-based funding program. Applicants need to be specific about the results they plan to achieve and demonstrate the knowledge, analysis and planning that will lead to a successful project. GF2 is highly competitive and only the most impactful projects are selected for funding. When making funding decisions, several factors are considered including the company’s contribution to expanding markets, managing shared risks and potential for profitability.

Since 2013, the federal and provincial governments have committed more than $4.7 million to over 90 projects in the brewery sector through GF2. A sampling of projects and businesses in
the sector that have received funding through GF2 can be found on the ministry’s website (

Several locally owned companies are among the recipients of GF2 funding. For example, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, where I announced our support for food and beverage companies, received more than $120,000 in GF2 funding to support the implementation of an automated bottling line and to complete growth and investment planning. Our government will continue to invest in Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector to further solidify our reputation as a great place to invest and grow.

Again, thank you for writing.


Jeff Leal
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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