Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries announced Wednesday the $5 million Manitoba Craft Liquor Opportunity Fund has been cancelled.

The crown corporation suggested brewers reach out to other agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada for funding opportunities, and said it remains committed to supporting and promoting local liquor producers.

READ MORE: New loan program to boost Manitoba craft breweries, distilleries

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not detrimental to the industry,” said John Heim, president of Torque Brewing.

The brewing company sold its first beer to MLL in August and opened a tap room a few weeks ago.

Heim said he was planning to use the money to buy new equipment and hire more staff, but the company would adjust.

“We are about eight years behind the rest of the country and there is tremendous opportunity,” he said. “As far as Torque is concerned, we were hopeful for it [the funds], but we weren’t counting on it.”

Dave Rudge is the CEO of Half Pint and president of the Manitoba Brewers Association. He said new brewers in the business were excited about the program, but wouldn’t have done much to help the more established brewers.

“We understand the government changed and there are new priorities,” he added. “It’s not a big deal as long as we keep conversing. The conversation is the important thing.”

Rudge said the relationship between MLL and brewers is “way more positive” than in the past.

MBA has 14 members and each brewing company generates between five and 10 jobs that pay $25,000 and $60,000 a year, Rudge said.

Pratik Modha, Stakeholder Relations, said Tuesday in an email to local craft producers:
“We do understand the importance of capital funding to small businesses and to the local craft brewing industry in particular; both to get your businesses off the ground and to ensure their continued growth. However, these types of programs are outside our core mandate and expertise, and therefore we will not be proceeding with this program.”

The loan program was introduced in January to boost the province’s craft brewing and distilling industry.