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OPSEU warns Ford: don’t use LCBO executives’ incompetence as an excuse for more privatization

Smokey THomas speaking at meeting
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TORONTO – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says his union won’t let Doug Ford use the botched roll-out of a new warehousing system by LCBO executives as a way to justify his irresponsible plan to let private companies siphon even more profits out of our public alcohol distribution system.

The warehousing system’s problems, which were flagged early by frontline LCBO workers who are members of OPSEU, led to widespread shortages at LCBO stores across the province last summer.

“We warned management that the system wasn’t ready to do the job, but they rushed it ahead anyway,” said Thomas. “Management has told us the shortages didn’t cut into sales. But when their official annual report comes out later this year, I won’t be surprised if they report a loss of revenue because of the screw-up.

“And I’ve got a warning for the premier: don’t get it into your head to use the warehouse problems or shortages as justification for more privatization, because we’ll call you on it.”

Just two months after Ford was elected, his campaign communication director — Melissa Lantsman — registered as a lobbyist for a large Alberta-based alcohol-retail corporation called Alcanna.

The Ford government has expanded the sale of alcohol in grocery stores, is doubling the number of privately owned “LCBO Convenience Outlets,” and has paved the way for alcohol sales in convenience stores. It has also changed the laws governing alcohol, opening the door for private corporations to begin warehousing and distributing alcohol.

“It’s scary how obsessed Mr. Ford is with privatized alcohol sales,” said OPSEU First Vice-President Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “He just doesn’t seem to care about all the evidence showing that it’s a bad idea. It drives up prices. It drives up health care and lost-productivity costs. And it lowers the amount of money the province gets from the LCBO.”

Thomas said it’s clear that the private alcohol industry’s lobbying has worked.

“I wouldn’t even be that surprised if Ford actually wanted the LCBO’s new warehouse system to fail,” he said. “It’s a move straight out of the privatization playbook: lower the quality of the public service so you can throw up your hands and say, ‘the public can’t do it so we have to bring in the corporations.’

“Then we’re stuck with higher costs and lower quality while the corporate owners laugh all the way to the bank.”

For more information:

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931