LBED Divisional Chair Denise Davis, LBED Anti-Privatization chair Jamie Kensley and Local 163 president Robin Reath travelled to Queen’s Park on Wednesday, to deliver hundreds of pages of signed petitions.
From left to right: Denise Davis, Chair of LBED; Robin Reath, president of OPSEU Local 163; Sandy Shaw, MPP for for Hamilton-West-Ancaster-Dundas; Jamie Kensley, LBED Anti-Privatization Committee Chair.
The petitions call on the Legislature to direct the government to keep alcohol sales in public hands in order to protect our young people and communities and to ensure the profits are invested in our public services.
LBED Locals collected more than 5,800 signatures from LCBO customers and members in the space of a month. The idea and wording of the petition came from Local 163, working with their Executive Board Members. It then spread to other Locals.
NDP Finance Critic Sandy Shaw, the MPP for Hamilton-West-Ancaster-Dundas presented the petition.
Earlier in the day, the LBED group shared their concerns with Ms. Shaw about the recommendations this week from the government’s privatization consultant on alcohol sales.
The government’s privatization consultant recommended:
- 4,000 new private sector retailers, initially by expanding the number of agency stores;
- phasing-in the sale of beer, wine, cider and coolers and, probably, spirits as well;
- potentially privatizing some of LCBO’s distribution business through “third-party warehousing” and “independent warehousing options”; and
- ending uniform pricing for private retailers but keeping it for the LCBO.
The LBED leaders took Ms Shaw through some of the recommendations, pointing out:
- the expansion of agency stores is privatization;
- agency stores appear to refuse far less sales than LCBO stores;
- enforcing the rules around the sale of alcohol is more challenging and, sometimes, more physically risky than preventing tobacco sales; and
- the privatization of some of LCBO’s distribution business will drive up costs and reduce the profits that pay for public services.
Earlier this week, President Smokey Thomas called on the RCMP to investigate Doug Ford’s decision to break the Beer Store contract to allow the sale of alcohol in corner and box stores. Mr Thomas said: “A shocking number of people who could profit from this billion-dollar boondoggle have deep personal connections with Ford and the Conservative Party.”
The LBED group repeated the union’s concerns that the Ford government is working closely with a well-connected group of lobbyists to force through privatization no matter the cost to public health and safety and taxpayer dollars.
As President Thomas told LBED members at Convention last week, the union will continue to fight privatization with everything we’ve got. In the last 10 months, the union has:
- commissioned public opinion polling on the privatization of cannabis and alcohol sales;
- made presentations to Legislative committees;
- launched keepitpublic.ca, directing nearly 1,900 emails to MPPs;
- held 70 information pickets in communities;
- collected 5,800 petition signatures from LCBO customers and LBED members;
- issued dozens of press releases and appeared on radio call-in shows;
- met with UFCW 12R24 representing workers at the Beer Store, participated in Unifor’s Retail Conference, and regularly liaised with unionized liquor board employees from other provinces; and
- participated in the Arrive Alive annual conference and a public health stakeholders meeting on alcohol policy.
The LBED anti-privatization committee will meet in the near future to strategize possible next steps for co-ordinated action in opposition to the government’s damaging agenda for privatization.
In the meantime, all LBED members and their families are urged to go to keepitpublic.ca and send an email to their MPP today.