OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Division

Thanks to all who objected to 7-Eleven selling alcohol

7-Eleven is known for paying low wages and selling Big Slurps. Now the multinational wants to increase its already large profits by selling alcohol too. That’s bad news for the 31 communities where 7-eleven has applied for a license. And it’s potentially even worse news for the province’s economy.

Fortunately, large numbers of OPSEU/SEFPO members from across the province – including President Warren (Smokey) Thomas – filed objections to 7-Eleven’s applications with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The deadline for subjecting objections is now closed.

Thomas’s objection was reported on by The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, CP24, The Toronto Sun, and Global News .

His objection boiled down to two main points:

  • Evidence shows that private retailers can’t be trusted to keep alcohol out of the hands of under-aged teens – a large segment of 7-Eleven’s customer base.
  • This might push open the door to all convenience stores being given the right to sell alcohol to take home, which would seriously hurt Ontario’s economy by driving up further the already considerable costs of alcohol use. More strain on our already overburdened hospitals. More lost productivity. And more overcrowding in our jails.

Thank you to the many other people who filed their own objections.

Girl taking a drink out of a beer slurpie glass

OPSEU/SEFPO’s objection to the Alcohol and Gaming Corporation of Ontario

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) is made up of 170,000 front line public service workers in Ontario, including 13,000 front-line LCBO workers.

OPSEU/SEFPO members stand fundamentally opposed to the expansion of private alcohol sales, and object to all of the Liquor Licence applications being made by 7-Elevens across the province.

The crux of our objection is simple: alcohol is a controlled substance for good reason. Sold irresponsibly, it causes serious harm to individuals, families, communities, and the entire province.

The communities in which these 7-Elevens are located will be a less safe place if these licenses are granted and children and teens run the risk of encountering intoxicated people in some or all of these convenience stores. Or even worse, if they can obtain alcohol at these stores.

There is clear evidence that private alcohol retailers have lower safety standards than government retailers. As Ontario’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health notes: “In both British Columbia and Alberta, studies have found that private retailers are less likely than government-owned retailers to ask people who appear to be minors for identification.”

In Ontario, LCBO workers enforce liquor laws through a specific and accountable policy called “Check 25.” And at the store level, employees are encouraged to “Think 30”, meaning they verify age for anyone who looks under 30. LCBO workers record every challenge and the reason for the challenge, and those challenges are publicly reported in the LCBO’s annual reports.

In contrast, private retailers such as grocery stores are not required to track challenges and do not publicly report their record of challenges. 7-Eleven has issued no assurances that it would behave any differently.

The multinational has also not issued any assurance that it would not use its liquor licence to attempt to lower the pay of its already low-paid workers. With a liquor license, could the multinational – which was recently embroiled in a wage-fraud scandal – drop the wages of some of its Ontario workers from the $14.25/hour minimum wage to the $12.45/hour minimum wage for liquor servers?

For those two reasons alone, OPSEU/SEFPO objects to the 7-Eleven Liquor License applications.

The union also objects for a third reason, and it is even more significant.

7-Eleven may be attempting to refashion its stores into some something more like “restaurants,” but we believe these liquor license applications have another purpose: to help force open the door to take-home alcohol sales in all convenience stores across the province.

This would massively expand the availability of alcohol in Ontario.

As a large body of scientific and health research has shown, such an expansion would significantly hurt a large number of people, along with the entire provincial economy as a whole.

In summary, allowing 7-Eleven to game the Alcohol and Gaming Commission and lay the groundwork for alcohol sales in all convenience stores would:

  • Increase the physical and emotional harm done to individuals and families, particularly in poorer communities.
  • Increase the damage, injury, and death done by drunk driving.
  • Damage the province’s economy through lost productivity and increased pressure on our already over-burdened public services, especially our overcrowded hospitals and jails.

The significant harms of increasing the availability of alcohol have been demonstrated in a number of studies and reports.

Here is a brief overview of some of those findings:

The evidence is clear. The expansion of alcohol sales to convenience stores would do significant damage in Ontario.

7-Eleven must not be allowed to bring this expansion one step closer to reality by becoming licensed to sell alcohol for in-store consumption.