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President Thomas: It’s not too late to rethink privatized beer and wine sales

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in the Queen's Park media gallery.

Toronto – Premier Ford’s no surprise Throne Speech sets the stage for interesting times ahead, said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. 

“We obviously don’t agree with some of the Premier’s priorities,” said Thomas. “The privatized sale of beer and wine in convenience, grocery and big box stores is a not only a threat to public health and safety, it’s also a surefire way to hollow out the assets of the LCBO. That approach doesn’t help the little guy, nor will it benefit Ontario’s treasury at a time when the Liberal deficit is poised to balloon.

“The Premier made a rash promise during the election,” said Thomas. “But Ontarians are smart – they appreciate a reasoned approach. It’s not too late to rethink privatized beer and wine sales.”

OPSEU, which represents 155,000 workers in the Ontario Public Service, Colleges and across the Broader Public Service, including Liquor Board employees, has repeatedly raised red flags about privatized alcohol sales, warning that the privatized sale of alcohol means less money in Ontario’s public coffers; funds that pay for precious public infrastructure like hospitals, highways, schools and public safety.

“It’s fair to say we are pleased to hear what the Premier is not doing,” said Thomas. “Perhaps he’s had a moment for sober second thought when it comes to cannabis. With a recent rash of violence connected to organized crime in our province, we’re pleased that he is not freewheeling the sale of cannabis, and that he and his caucus members are maintaining a cautious approach.”

“When it comes to real investments in frontline services, Premier Ford’s government came up short in today’s speech,” said OPSEU First Vice-President Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “The people of Ontario depend on quality public services, so we need this government’s commitment to protect them.

“If Premier Ford is worried about finding the money to pay for these services, we’ve got some ideas,” said Almeida. “First, let’s start with the outrageous salaries of top bosses across our colleges and the Broader Public Service. There’s plenty to be saved on executive compensation and invested in frontline services for the people.”

“We saw no great surprises today, but despite our sense of temporary relief, we are set to rally the troops when needed,” Thomas said. “We obviously don’t agree on everything, but we’re cautiously optimistic that Premier Ford seems to be taking a steady-as-we-go approach. We’re always open to discussion, and while we don’t look to start wars, we won’t back away from one either. Several former premiers can attest to that.” 

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