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CAN: Health Canada’s economic relief for the cannabis industry falls well short, says Canadian Chamber

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s National Cannabis Working Group issued the following statement in response to the Order Amending the Cannabis Fees Order (Extension of Deadline for Payment of 2020-2021 Annual Fee) published in the Canada Gazette, Part II today:

“While we appreciate the flexibility provided by Health Canada’s amendment to defer the payment due date of the 2020-2021 annual licence fee it charges to cannabis companies, it fails to provide any meaningful help to the cannabis industry to cope with the negative consequences related to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The fee deferral does not distinguish that some companies have already paid the annual fee, which is due at the beginning of September. Furthermore, the deferral does not recognize that revenue generated in the last six months was severely restricted due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, nor will it really help publicly traded companies, as the amount for this fiscal year will still need to be accrued for payment next year.

Today’s decision ignores the advice and input received from the industry during the consultation on the deferral earlier this summer. It is extremely disappointing given this is the only emergency measure available for the cannabis industry. The Government of Canada’s additional programs have been particularly difficult to access for a regulated cannabis industry that contributed approximately $8 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2019. The message to cannabis businesses seems to be that the sector is on its own, a troubling omen for the long-term success of legalization.

The cannabis industry had asked Health Canada to waive the annual regulatory fee for this year. The industry also remains frustrated with the cost recovery program given that, after a year and a half, there are still no service standards associated with the program. To be clear, the industry recognizes the need for such a program but clear service standards must be attached to it, without such standards the program is simply another tax.”


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