Union blasts privatization plan amid expansion of beer and wine sales
Published Saturday, September 21, 2019 5:02PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 21, 2019 6:53PM EDT
At LCBOs across Toronto Saturday, booze buyers were asked to put down the paper bag - and protest the privatization of alcohol sales.
“We’re just trying to keep LCBOs public,” employee Nadia Montisano said.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union coordinated the city-wide information picket, setting up shop outside provincial liquor stores and asking consumers to sign a petition calling on the province to halt the expansion of beer and wine sales in convenience outlets, corner stores and grocery stores.
“When shoppers buy at the LCBO, the revenue generated comes back to the government of Ontario for healthcare, education, and transit,” Kingsley Kwok, OPSEU executive board member, told CTV News Toronto.
“When shoppers buy at grocery stores, convenience outlets or supermarkets, the profits generated go to the owners.”
The OPSEU members also stressed that they are specially trained in the sale of alcohol, and understand safety requirements like not selling to minors or intoxicated consumers.
“Our goal is to keep everyone safe,” one LCBO employee told CTV News Toronto.
The Doug Ford government has been expanding the sale of wine, beer and cider into more private stores, including nearly 300 additional retailers this past summer.
The government has rebranded LCBO agency stores in underserviced areas as LCBO Convenience Outlets and expects to have 200 in place by next spring.
“We are moving forward on the promise to improve customer choice and convenience and enable more opportunities for businesses in the sale and distribution of alcohol,” Scott Blodgett, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said Saturday.
“Alcohol reform is something long-desired by the people of Ontario.”
But the union says every dollar that lines the pocket of a private retailer is a dollar lost to provincially-provided social services.
“As everyone knows we have government cuts in all these areas,” Kwok said.