Terrible service and total secrecy: the growing costs of privatized cannabis sales
Publication DateFriday, November 2, 2018 - 3:00pm
Toronto – Delivery delays. Poor customer service. Billing problems. And a complete lack of transparency and accountability. The deluge of complaints being leveled at the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) are the consequence of running a public service like a profit-making company, according to OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“Cannabis retail in Ontario is off to a messy start, but nobody should be surprised – that’s what you get when you put profits before people,” said Thomas. “Doug Ford knew exactly what he was doing when he took the OCS away from the LCBO. It’s as far away from the public model as you can get.
“He says he’s for the people. But his actions are all for maximizing the profits of his friends and Conservative Party insiders.”
When the OCS was first created under the previous Liberal government, it was put under the management of the LCBO, which has a long and proven track record of transparent governance, responsible sales, and returning billions in profit to the people of Ontario.
But as part of the Ford government’s reckless and irresponsible decision to privatize cannabis sales, OCS was taken away from the LCBO and put under the direct control of Finance Minister Vic Fedeli. Transparency and public accountability dried up.
For example, it was only through a leak that the public and OPSEU learned the OCS has opened a privatized warehouse to fill online orders. Nobody knows which company has been awarded that contract, how much it’s being paid by our government, hiring criteria such as criminal reference checks, nor how much its employees are being paid.
“Legalizing cannabis was supposed to bring transparency and accountability to this business,” said OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “But Ford and Fedeli want to work in the shadows so they can grease the palms of their political friends and backers. If this is what the premier means when he says Ontario is open for business, we have a huge problem. This whole cannabis file has been reduced to monkey business since Ford took over.”
Thomas predicts the complaints against the OCS will get worse and worse until the government goes back to the responsible plan to sell cannabis: a truly public plan.
“For all the people saying the public sector is screwing up online cannabis sales, think again,” said Thomas. “The real problem here is privatization. To fix the problem, we need a responsible public retailer that will ensure the people of Ontario benefit from cannabis revenues while providing good service and keeping our kids and communities safe.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931