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OPSEU warns against introduction of 12-pack beer to LCBO outlets

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With the LCBO about to introduce sales of 12-pack beer to selected retail locations, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas repeated the union's position that private beer and wine sales should be kept out of supermarkets.

Critics say 12-packs in LCBO stores a step toward booze in grocery stores

680 News
Alanna Kelly – Posted Aug 6, 2015 4:51 pm EDT

Ever walk into an LCBO store looking for a 12-pack of beer but can’t seem to find one?

Well, times they are a-changin’.

As part of a pilot project rolling out across Ontario starting today, 10 LCBO locations have begun selling 12-packs of beer, a change that was announced in April by Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The Premier also announced that Ontario will allow beer in six-packs or smaller packages to be sold in 450 grocery stores.

“Part of the recommendations from the Premier’s council was to pilot the expanded sales of beer,” said Christine Bujold spokesperson for the LCBO. “It will eventually be in grocery stores.”

If the pilot project is successful, the sale of 12-packs will expand to up to 50 stores.

Bujold said expanding and upgrading LCBO stores will hopefully help improve customer service and product selection, which “helps us generate revenue which we then turn over to the Province to pay for things like health care, education and infrastructure.”

But Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas disagrees with that perspective.

“We are in very bad shape, very bad shape if we are peddling drugs to make money,” said Thomas on Thursday.

Thomas said the pilot project is a move towards selling beer in grocery stores, which OPSEU is opposed to.

OPSEU is not convinced that sales of 12-packs will dramatically increase if it brought into LCBO locations.

“We’ll wait and see what happens,” he said.

Instead, Thomas wants to see LCBO kiosks in grocery stores.

Thomas said LCBO and Beer Store employees are trained to handle and de-escalate situations that could arise in their stores, and over the last year the LCBO has “refused service to well over 400,000 people,” he said.

“What’s going to happen in a grocery store on a Friday or Saturday night when you have people working cash, there’s a bunch of people lined up, you smell alcohol on a person and what happens when they are refused service?” Thomas asked.

It results in a big “kerfuffle,” he said.

In this pilot project, bottled domestic products such as Coors Light, Molson Canadian, Carling Lager and Budweiser will be sold as well as Labatt Blue in cans. Heineken, Stella Artois, Corona Extra, Grolsch, Steam Whistle and Muskoka Survival Pack will also be sold in 12-packs at the selected locations.

The locations, listed below, were chosen because of their appeal to the LCBO and also adhered to the distant requirements of being a minimum of two kilometres from the nearest Beer Store:

  • Burlington – 3041 Walkers Line
  • Sudbury – 1099 Marcus Drive
  • Bowmanville – 2344 Highway #2
  • Tecumseh – 15 Amy Croft Drive, Unit 2
  • Toronto – 1339 Lawrence Avenue West – North Park Plaza
  • Uxbridge – 2B Wellwood Drive, Unit 1 – Quaker Hill Centre
  • Ottawa – 120 Riocan Avenue
  • Brampton – 9970 Airport Road
  • Kitchener – 721 Ottawa Street South – Alpine Centre Plaza
  • Woodbridge – 959 Dundas Street

Read more at 680 News

Related: OPSEU in the News