Toronto – A demand for new minimum beer prices by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is nothing more than an attempt to pick the pockets of Ontarians, said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“These efforts to change a system that is tried tested and true are for the benefit of private retailers, not consumers,” said Thomas. “Now we’re seeing the true price of Doug Ford’s promise of greater convenience.”
Thomas says the OCSA is pandering to craft brewers and craft beer consumers about greater access to the market, but there’s a much darker side to the story.
“These are the same private interest groups pushing for changes to the alcohol pricing and markup structure to cut their costs and boost their profits,” said Thomas. “That would mean less revenue to pay for public services like health care and education.
“As if the corner stores would ever pass along any savings to consumers. This isn’t altruism, it’s capitalism after all.”
OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the current uniform pricing system is among the most cost-effective in Canada and protects consumers and public health.
“We have among the lowest prices and great selection,” said Almeida. “We’ve got a system that works well, and gives the best value to consumers.
“Corner stores are lobbying the government to put their profits before the people,” said Almeida. “And at a great cost to the rest of us – at the checkout counter and in higher public health costs.”
Almeida also wonders how rural consumers will fare if the uniform pricing system is scrapped.
“There are plenty of corner stores in Toronto so perhaps competition might keep everyone honest, but the story will be different in small, remote and northern communities where one store may have a monopoly and there is no uniform price.”
Thomas also thinks the OCSA is naïve to believe the government will keep any if its promises on beer and wine.
“This government is prepared to rip up a bona fide contract just to get beer in their stores in the first place,” said Thomas. “Not exactly the start of a trusting relationship if you ask me.
“There’s always room for improvement, but when it comes to the low-cost, convenient and safe sale and consumption of alcohol, our current system is the gold standard and we’ll keep fighting to protect it. You would think a government that’s viewed as corrupt by 60 per cent of Ontarians might pay heed and reverse course before they’re tainted by another scandal.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931