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Statement from President Warren (Smokey) Thomas on expanded hours for alcohol sales:

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

I’m troubled by this irresponsible decision to allow private retailers and the LCBO to expand their store hours to seven days a week, 12 months a year,  9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The LCBO has always had the option to stay open until 11 p.m. except for Sundays,  but decided against it because it did not make sound business sense, so why is the Ford government forcing through bad business decisions.

The “C” in LCBO stands for control and there must always be a balance between convenience and the responsible handling of alcohol.

Recent media reports indicate police have noticed a spike in impaired driving cases recently. Interestingly, that spike corresponds with the Ford government’s incessant promotion of alcohol.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report recently that estimates alcohol use cost the province $5.3 billion in 2014 in lost productivity, health care, criminal justice and other direct costs, far more than the net revenue governments collected from alcohol sales.

The net financial cost of alcohol consumption – also called the alcohol deficit – will only rise as the province makes it easier to purchase.

In justifying the Ford government attack on workers’ rights related to crushing Bill 148, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Todd Smith recently accused Ontarians of inappropriate use of two sick days following Super Bowl festivities. The hypocrisy is astounding.

Selling booze in grocery stores and other private retail outlets late at night is just asking for trouble, and I’m particularly surprised that the province’s health minister is among the members of Ford’s cabinet who are eagerly tweeting this announcement of expanded hours. People can now buy alcohol almost 100 hours per week.

If only this government applied the same theory of convenience when it comes to health care, education and all the other public services Ontarians count on.