Premier Dalton McGuinty should put an immediate end to speculation about the privatization of the LCBO by saying the Crown corporation is not for sale, says the union that represents more than 6,000 liquor board employees.
“How many more times are we going to go around the block on this issue?” asked Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “We beat back privatization under Mike Harris and we were pleased when Premier McGuinty rejected the recommendations of the Lacey panel in 2005 that called for parts of the LCBO to be sold off to the private sector.
“It should be a dead issue by now but somehow it keeps creeping back,” said Thomas, responding to media accounts Wednesday that reported the government has retained the services of two banking investment firms to advise it on the possible privatization of several prominent Crown corporations, including the LCBO.
In 2008 the LCBO earned more than $1.4 billion in profit – funds that are used to finance health care, education and other public services. Surveys have repeatedly found that close to 75 per cent of Ontarians want the LCBO to stay in public hands. And without the profit motive at work, the LCBO rigidly enforces a policy of social responsibility by blocking sales to underage teens, intoxicated customers and third-party purchasers.
Thomas also noted that privatization would threaten the wages, benefits and working conditions enjoyed by many full-time LCBO employees.
“In dozens of communities around Ontario the LCBO is a source of employment and a “destination retailer” that attracts other retail businesses. Why tamper with a formula that has worked so well on behalf of all Ontarians?
“Slaughtering the goose that annually lays golden eggs for the public purse is a half-baked strategy that should be put to rest for good.”