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Selling wine in grocery stores comes with a high price


TORONTO – The Ontario government’s scheme to let grocery stores to sell wine is “a sell-out to corporate interests and a direct attack on the LCBO,” the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“We have a liquor control system in this province that works, and the Liberals are tearing it apart,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “Government will still pay for the social harm caused by alcohol, but the profits from selling it are moving steadily to the private sector.

“Make no mistake about it: this is privatization of one of our Crown jewels,” he said. “In the end, we’ll all pay the price.”

The government has approved a plan that would see 70 grocery stores selling wine this fall, according to reports, with more to be added in future. Privatization czar Ed Clark presented the plan to cabinet yesterday.

“The Liberals dance to whatever tune Ed Clark happens to be playing,” said Thomas, “but the words are always the same: ‘privatize, privatize, privatize.’ The LCBO brings in huge revenues that pay for roads, schools, hospitals and every other public service. We can’t afford to lose it.”

Denise Davis, chair of the OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Division, said the government’s latest move ignores the social costs of alcohol. The drug has been linked to heart and liver disease, cancer, accidents, traffic fatalities, domestic violence, child abuse, depression and suicide, she said.

“The liquor control system in this province is one of the reasons Ontario has the second-lowest alcohol consumption of any province in Canada,” Davis said, “and the centrepiece of that system is the LCBO’s control over sales of wines and spirits.

“You don’t have to be a genius to know wine sales belong in responsible public hands, not on grocery store shelves. The system works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

OPSEU represents 7,000 working Ontarians in LCBO stores, warehouses, and offices.

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

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