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Spend one hour of LCBO profits to research costs of drinking: OPSEU

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on the Government of Ontario to invest one hour of the LCBO’s profits into researching the financial costs of drinking.

“There is no question that alcohol consumption brings massive financial costs to society related to health care, traffic accidents, law enforcement, and lost productivity at work,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “Unfortunately, Ontario Liberals are putting beer and wine into grocery stores without even knowing the true costs of doing so.

“We are calling on the government to fund independent research into the net financial cost to government and society of alcohol consumption,” he said. “A half a million dollars, which represents roughly one hour of the LCBO’s profits when its stores are open, could fund that research.”

Thomas issued the challenge at an alcohol policy conference in Toronto today.

A 2006 study by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse (CCSA) put the financial costs of alcohol consumption in Canada at $14.6 billion – far more than the net revenues governments collected from alcohol sales. But that study used data from 2002 and is now out of date, Thomas said.

“In the name of evidence-based policy-making, I’d like to call on Premier Kathleen Wynne to commit to provincial funding to update that study – with no strings attached to ensure full academic freedom for whomever the researchers turn out to be. You cannot make evidence-based policy without evidence.”

OPSEU represents 7,000 workers working in liquor control at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario but also represents tens of thousands of Ontario workers who deal with the social effects of alcohol. They work in addiction treatment, children’s aid societies, correctional services, and many other areas.

“Many, many OPSEU members take a professional interest in protecting the public, and our communities, from the harm that comes with drinking,” Thomas said. “As a union, we take this very seriously.”

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