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Ford jeopardizes community health and safety by rewarding backers with private alcohol outlets

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
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TORONTO – Premier Doug Ford is putting party backers before the people as he doubles down on his irresponsible plan to increase private alcohol sales, says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. 

“It’s like patronage-happy Dean French never left Ford’s side,” said Thomas. “When you look down the list of 85 communities having more alcohol plied on them with a privatized ‘LCBO Convenience Outlet,’ 68 of them are in Conservative ridings. 

“This is just another Tory payoff to supporters. And who’s going to pay the bill and suffer the hangover? The people of Ontario.” 

Thomas said that despite having ‘LCBO’ in their name, the new ‘LCBO Convenience Outlets’ are just rebranded LCBO ‘agency stores.’ In other words, they’re just new privatized alcohol retailers in disguise. 

“When it comes to ensuring the responsible sale of alcohol and to returning maximum profits to the people of Ontario, real LCBO stores are tried, tested, and true,” said OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “With these fake LCBO stores, up to 10 per cent of the profits disappear into the owners’ pockets. 

“And since their first priority is profits, can we really trust these owners to ensure that alcohol isn’t sold to kids or people who appear intoxicated?” 

Last year, public opinion research by Nik Nanos showed that people in Ontario are at least 12 times more likely to choose a real LCBO store over private outlets in order to keep alcohol out of the hands of kids. It also showed Ontarians are four times more likely to choose a real LCBO store in order to generate public revenue to invest in health care, highways, and other public services. 

Thomas said his union is fighting the expansion of private alcohol sales with its “Keep it Public” campaign (www.keepitpublic.ca), which encourages people to shop at real LCBO outlets and to tell their MPPs to abandon this irresponsible privatization scheme. 

Thomas said OPSEU is also fighting the expansion with its collective agreement. 

“Our contract with the LCBO clearly states that for every new ‘agency store’, an existing agency store must be brought back under the direct control of the LCBO and staffed by OPSEU members,” said Thomas. “We intend to hold the LCBO – and Ford – to that agreement.” 

For more information: OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931