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OPSEU/SEFPO: Letting people drink in 7-Elevens would be a lose-lose-lose for Ontario

LCBO: Essentially yours

Toronto – The leaders of OPSEU/SEFPO are urging Premier Doug Ford – and Ontario citizens and small business owners — to deep-six 7-Eleven’s scheme to allow customers to buy and drink beer and wine in its stores, many of them attached to gas bars.

“It’d be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “7-Eleven is trying to convince government its convenience stores are actually restaurants. But if we let multinationals squeeze through this loophole, it will be a lose-lose-lose for Ontario.

“It will hurt small business and restaurant owners struggling to get through the pandemic. It could increase drinking and driving and under-aged drinking,” said Thomas. “And since this is clearly a ploy to open the door to all convenience stores selling alcohol, it will rob the province of alcohol revenues it needs to fund our vital public services while, at the same time, increasing alcohol harms and the demands on those already overburdened services.”

7-Eleven, which was recently implicated in a massive wage-fraud scandal, has applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for restaurant licences to serve beer and wine for consumption in more than 60 of its locations across Ontario – many of which are attached to gas bars.

“I’ve heard a lot of bad ideas in my time, but this one takes the Twinkie cake,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Does this mean we’ll soon be able to buy and/or drink alcohol in all convenience stores and gas stations? What’s next, vodka Big Gulps?

“I hope every single Ontarian will join me in speaking out against this dangerous loophole scheme.”

The AGCO is accepting public comments on the 7-Eleven applications until March 11. To submit feedback, visit the AGCO’s website and enter “Liquor” in the category field and “7-Eleven” in the applicant field.

As revealed by CBC, Premier Ford held a secret meeting with 7-Eleven executives in Texas last year, just before the pandemic.

Colleen MacLeod, the chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Liquor Board Employees Division, says she hopes Ford will back away from any promises he might have made during that meeting.

“The pandemic has changed everything since he had that meeting,” said MacLeod. “I’m sure the Premier now has a much greater appreciation of the LCBO and the role its essential front-line workers have in the responsible sale of alcohol and the funding of our vital public services. I’m hopeful he’ll do the right thing and put a stop to multinationals trying to make alcohol cash-grabs with things like these ‘restaurant’ applications and calls for reduced warehouse pricing.”

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

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