Mac's promises new jobs, stores if Ontario allows alcohol sales in convenience stores
Published Monday, September 9, 2013 12:07PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 9, 2013 2:02PM EDT
Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc. will build 27 new “ultra-modern” convenience stores and create 170 new full-time jobs across Ontario within two years of being granted the right to sell alcohol, a company vice-president said Monday.
The new stores would represent $54-million of new, private investment in Ontario, Tom Moher, the company’s vice-president of operations for Central Canada, said in a speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
“That doesn't begin to include the millions of dollars Mac's will spend retrofitting our current stores for the sale of alcohol," he said.
The company says the new stores, which would be located in Toronto, Brampton, Grey Bruce, London, Ottawa, Muskoka and other cities, would create 170 new full-time jobs.
That's in addition to 1,600 new jobs the company previously promised to add at existing stores if Ontario relaxes its liquor laws.
Moher said it’s time for the province to expand alcohol retailing to the private sector.
"Basically, the people of Ontario are telling their politicians that it's time to modernize alcohol retailing in this province," he said. "Some of our politicians get it. Others – not so much. That's why Mac's is making this such a public issue."
In June, the Ontario Convenience Association released a 25-page study suggesting a hybrid alcohol-retail system – similar to the one in British Columbia – would benefit everyone from alcohol drinkers to taxpayers.
In B.C., alcohol is sold in both privately owned and government-owned stores.
“The common public perception is, if you introduce enhanced retail competition, it will lead to a reduction in profits,” Anindya Sen, an economist at the University of Waterloo, told CTVNews.ca at the time. “That is not true.”
Competition should drive down prices and attract more customers, Sen said.
However, not everyone agrees private alcohol sales are a good thing.
A competing market survey conducted by Ipsos Reid suggests Ontarians could pay up to 51 per cent more for beer if liquor sales are privatized.
In the past, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has seemed open to the idea of expanding alcohol sales in the province.
Though he said there are no plans to change the structure of the LCBO, when asked whether he’d allow convenience stores to sell booze, he wouldn't rule out the possibility.
"It's prudent for us to always view opportunities should they be of net benefit to the province," he told the Canadian Press in June.
The LBCO holds a near-monopoly on alcohol sales and turned over $1.65 billion to the province last year.
The Crown corporation plans to add more retail stores across the province and set up express outlets inside 10 grocery stores.