TORONTO, Jan. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The union representing more than 7,000
LCBO workers has endorsed the Crown agency's decision to open 'Express'
stores in several large grocery stores and to inaugurate boutique
outlets for the sale of Ontario quality wines.
"This is a step in the right direction for the future of spirits, wine
and beer sales in Ontario," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of
the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents LCBO
workers at retail outlets, distribution centres and at head office.
"Consumers have said for years they want the LCBO to remain in public
hands, but they also want to see greater convenience and the same high
level of social responsibility that the LCBO provides. This approach is
balanced and that is what people like to see."
Thomas said the government's announcement Dec. 31, giving the LCBO the
green light to open up sales in grocery stores and specialty wine
outlets, effectively derails Progressive Conservative Leader Tim
Hudak's reckless pledge to put beer and wine in corner stores and to
begin the privatization of the LCBO itself.
"Tim Hudak is on the wrong side of public opinion when it comes to the
future of the LCBO," said Thomas. "The public wants to see it remain a
valued public asset that contributes attractive annual dividends to
help pay for education, health care and infrastructure."
Denise Davis, chair of OPSEU's liquor board employees division, said the
LCBO should go one step further and begin repatriating privately-owned
and operated "agency" stores once their current contracts expire. Some
of these high-revenue outlets are located in major grocery stores
already and could easily be converted into regular LCBO retail outlets.
She noted that LCBO Chair Philip Olsson told public hearings in Trenton,
Ont., last June that he was prepared to repatriate some agency stores,
few of which carry quality Ontario wines or Ontario-produced craft
"With the government's announcement this week it's time Mr. Olsson acted
on his promise to convert some agency stores into regular LCBO
outlets," said Davis. "As it stands, many of these stores together take
in millions in annual private commission fees - monies that more
properly should be going to the provincial treasury but which do little
for Ontario's wine industry or craft brewers."
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