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Privatization hurts us all: LCBO workers picket

We the North
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Windsor – This past Friday afternoon, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) braved inclement weather to hold a well-received information picket outside an LCBO outlet in Windsor.

The goal was to foster public debate around Kathleen Wynne’s plan to privatize alcohol sales by expanding them to grocery stores across the province.

Local 162 president Jennifer Van Zetten was joined by a number of fellow OPSEU members to hand out flyers to the public.

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Picketers hand out flyers at a Windsor LCBO.

“I’m very pleased with how this first picket went,” said Van Zetten. “People were interested in chatting with us, and many were surprised to hear what the research says about the effects of privatization.”

Beer has been available in 60 grocery stores provincewide since December, and wine is to be sold in 70 grocery stores this autumn. Concern is mounting that making alcohol more widely available will lead to increased social harms ranging from health problems to motor vehicle accidents.  

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OPSEU local 162 president Jennifer Van Zetten speaks with press at Friday's picket.

OPSEU has been critical of the government’s decision to liberalize alcohol sales without doing its due diligence and investigating the potential risks associated.

“This is about two key things,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “It’s about community safety, and it’s about good jobs. Privatization is an attack on both of those. The LCBO belongs to all of us, and its profits help keep our public services going. Nobody voted for the Ontario Liberals to take that away from us.”

An additional point of concern is the LCBO’s move to online sales. OPSEU-represented LCBO workers have always supported improving services for customers in a safe and responsible way.

“The question lingers, though,” said Thomas, “of whether these new services meet those social responsibility standards and contribute to bringing and keeping good jobs in communities across the province.”

OPSEU represents 7,000 LCBO employees in more than 400 communities across Ontario. More information pickets are expected throughout Ontario later in the month.

For more information: Jennifer Van Zetten, 519-257-0817