Mr. McGuinty: 140,000 Ontario workers deserve an apology and your support



    TORONTO, April 4 /CNW/ - There are over 10,000 convenience stores in
Ontario. They're owned and operated by some of the largest companies in this
country and some of the hardest-working new Canadian families in Ontario.
That's why when you said yesterday that none of these people or companies can
be trusted, we were shocked and disappointed by your remarks.
    It's not often that a Premier unfairly questions the credibility of an
entire industry and its 140,000 workers. The reality is convenience stores
sell more age restricted products than any other retail channel in Canada. We
are responsible retailers of age restricted products that include tobacco,
lottery tickets, fireworks, magazines, movies, games and, yes, even alcohol.
    In fact, you can buy alcohol at convenience stores in over 200 locations
throughout Ontario through the LCBO's agency store model. At each of these
locations, conscientious convenience store clerks sell beer, wine and spirits
at standards that meet or exceed those of the LCBO itself.
    We're building on those standards and last month announced our 'We Expect
ID' zero-tolerance age-verification program - the toughest program of its kind
in North America. Under this program, which is now rolling out to 2,500 stores
in Ontario, convenience store retailers are swiping driver's licenses of
anyone who appears under the age of 25 buying any age-restricted product. By
swiping driver's licenses through a lottery terminal, clerks immediately know
the age of the customer and can easily deny sales to minors. It's a program
that's been widely praised and has the stamp of approval from Ontario's
Privacy Commissioner.
    But age-verification is a joint responsibility and we've been asking for
the provincial government to play its role for the past two years as 'We
Expect ID' was developed. We are hoping that in light of your comments
yesterday, you will see the benefits of joining us and supporting the
strictest program to keep all age-restricted products out of the hands of
youth.
    Mr. Premier, you made your remarks about convenience stores by
referencing the OLG controversy. The convenience store industry is a steward
for the lottery business in Ontario. The hard working men and women in
Ontario's 10,000 convenience stores sell over 700 million lottery tickets
worth over $1.4 billion every year. The vast majority of these are honest
small business people who support their families by serving communities all
across the province.
    Without question, the actions of corrupt individuals, whether they be at
convenience stores, grocery stores or elsewhere, are inexcusable. And we've
committed ourselves to work closely with your government to root out
unscrupulous retailers. But to tar all the companies and 140,000 hard-working
people that run convenience stores with the shortcomings highlighted by the
Ombudsman, is simply unfair.
    We hope that you'll take some time to reconsider your comments and give
both corporate Canada and the many family-run convenience stores across this
province an apology and commit your government to working with us on programs
like 'We Expect ID' to make Ontario the world leader when it comes to the
responsible sale of age-restricted products.

    Sincerely,

    Dave Bryans,
    President, Ontario Convenience Stores Association





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