Toronto – Premier Kathleen Wynne’s statement yesterday that consumers will be able to purchase wine “with their cheese, at the same place, at the same time and at the same checkout,” reveals the extent to which corporate supermarkets are setting the agenda for expanded alcohol sales, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.
“When beer was put in supermarkets last autumn, the premier was clear: alcohol sales must be sold from a designated area and purchased through a designated checkout,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “Why is it suddenly different for the sale of wine?
“It appears the big grocers have told privatization czar, Ed Clark, that those public safety restrictions are an obstacle to profits so get rid of them. We shouldn’t be surprised. Bending to the wishes of Bay Street is consistent with so many other policy decisions this government has taken.”
Clark, a former banker and the architect behind the Wynne government’s privatization of Hydro One, has been the premier’s mastermind behind the privatization of beer and wine sales in Ontario.
Thomas pointed out that the government’s willingness to appease large grocery chains by expanding beer and wine sales to supermarkets stands in stark contrast to the evidence-based views of public health and safety experts who have consistently warned there is a clear link between wider accessibility and the health and social costs resulting from those who abuse alcohol.
The OPSEU president said studies in other jurisdictions, like British Columbia, have revealed the private retail outlets have a worse compliance record when it comes to selling to minors compared with government-owned liquor stores.
“In BC, which has a mix of government and private liquor stores, government outlets had an average compliance rate of 90 per cent over a three-year period, compared with private stores which averaged a 78 per cent compliance record,” said Thomas.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas