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“Drink more beer” is bad social policy that will cost Ontarians more: OPSEU


TORONTO – A proposal to increase the number of retail outlets selling beer in Ontario by 30 per cent is bad social policy that will cost Ontarians more, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

The Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets, chaired by former bank CEO Ed Clark, made the recommendation today.

“Today’s report displays profound ignorance of the relationship between alcohol, society, and government budgets,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “‘Drink more beer’ is bad social policy that will cause direct harm to Ontarians and their families, and on top of that, government will actually lose money as alcohol sales expand.”

The Clark panel proposal, if adopted by government, will allow the sale of six-packs of beer in up to 450 grocery stores around the province.

“What Clark is proposing would trigger the largest single jump in alcohol consumption in Ontario history,” Thomas said. “Clark’s plan runs counter to the whole idea of liquor control that has served Ontarians so well for so long.”

The most recent statistics from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse shows that income to the Ontario provincial government from alcohol sales is less than what government pays out in alcohol-related health care, law enforcement, and other social costs, Thomas noted.

“Alcohol is an addictive substance that has been conclusively linked to dozens of social harms from cancer to traffic deaths to family breakups,” he said. “For every dollar government gets from increased alcohol sales, it pays out more than a dollar in alcohol-related social costs.

“The government should reject Clark’s plan to sell beer in grocery stores.”

OPSEU represents 7,000 workers at the government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario. LCBO employees refused service to 415,000 individuals last year, 87 per cent of whom were under the legal drinking age.