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President Thomas’s statement on distribution problems at the LCBO

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is making the following statement on the distribution problems at the LCBO:

Thanks to yet another privatization boondoggle, Ontarians are facing a long dry summer as alcohol shortages hit LCBOs across the province.

Many LCBO customers have already been shocked by the empty shelves and lack of selection they’re finding at their local store. The problem stems from new privately developed “warehouse management” software that our members working at the LCBO tell us was rolled out before it was ready.

How ironic that Premier Doug “Buck-a-Beer” Ford is now presiding over the first beer, wine, and spirits shortage that we’ve seen for years. First cannabis, and now alcohol. This is the guy who talks about convenience?

Not that anybody should be surprised. The private sector has a long, sad history of botching big IT projects.
IBM’s disastrous Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) continues to cause havoc and hardship to thousands of people who aren’t getting the assistance payments they need and deserve.

It’s the same story in Ottawa with another piece of shoddy IBM software: the Phoenix payroll system. The problems were so severe the federal government has now decided to abandon Phoenix altogether.

But despite that mess we’re hearing troubling news that another corporate “Friend of Ford” is working a different angle that could quickly turn into Ontario’s own version of the Phoenix debacle.

The accountancy firm Ernst & Young – which Ford hired to do a “line-by-line audit” of the province’s books that turned out to be neither “line by line” nor “an audit” – has been gifted with a contract to explore a new payroll system for the province’s OPS workers.

Then there is the Alberta-based private alcohol retailer Alcanna. It’s pushing as hard as it can to get its hooks into Ontario’s alcohol market – they’ve even hired Ford’s former campaign communications director to lobby her old boss for them.

Ford did the right thing when he rescinded many of the appointments made by his nepotism-happy former chief of staff, Dean French. But he shouldn’t stop at French’s appointments — it’s time for him to rethink some of his own and give the boot to the people that he’s appointed, including LCBO board chair Carmine Nigro, a property developer.

The LCBO is a massive organization that provides critical investment in our public services. It should be run by people who know the retail business and who know Ontario’s alcohol system, not by people who only know Ford’s cellphone number.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 1-613-329-1931