“There is no justification for putting profits for private corporations ahead of the interests of Saskatchewan families and communities.” — Donna Christianson, SGEU Chair of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) bargaining unit
Regina (19 Nov. 2015) — Saskatchewan people deserve to know how the services their families rely on will be affected by the Sask. Party government’s plan to privatize more than half of the province’s public liquor stores, says the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).
Elimination of public liquor stores will drain millions of dollars from province
“Profits from public liquor sales help pay for Saskatchewan hospitals, schools, highways, and long-term care homes,” says Donna Christianson, Chair of SGEU’s Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) bargaining unit. “The government’s plan to eliminate 40 public liquor stores will drain millions in revenue from Saskatchewan’s public coffers.”
The 40 SLGA stores that are slated for closure earned profits of $32.6 million in 2014. “That money helps fund the public services Saskatchewan families and communities rely on,” notes Christianson.
SGEU/NUPGE calls for independent analysis of financial impact
The SGEU/NUPGE wants the government to commission an independent analysis of the financial impact of further privatization before selling off or closing any more public liquor stores. “How much revenue will Saskatchewan people be losing, and how will it be replaced? Or will families be facing cuts in services to make up for the lost income?” asks Christianson.
“Given the recent financial downturn, government has a responsibility to show the public what any potential changes will cost them,” she adds.
Rural Saskatchewan communities hardest hit by store closures
Small town Saskatchewan will be particularly hard hit if government carries out its plan. Thirty-five rural communities stand to lose their public liquor stores and the good, family-supporting jobs they provide. “Employees in small stores live and work in their communities. They support local businesses, pay local taxes, send their children to local schools. Losing those jobs will hurt towns already struggling to survive,” according to Christianson.
In total, 210 jobs will be lost under the Saskatchewan Party plan. Of those, 148 will be jobs in rural Saskatchewan.
Research shows massive revenue loss by privatizing liquor sales
A 2014 economic analysis by Alberta-based Parkland Institute found that if Saskatchewan were under an Alberta-style privatized liquor system, it would have lost $230 million in public revenue from 2009–2013. Even just the four new private stores government has already allowed will mean up to $7.5 million each year in lost revenue.
“Government’s plan to allow an additional 12 new private stores will further erode public revenue from liquor sales. That’s money that could be going back to support services and benefits for Saskatchewan people,” she adds.
“Where is the business case for privatization? If government believes this will help Saskatchewan families, we need to see an objective, evidence-based review that provides a reasonable rationale to support the plan,” says Christianson.
Public will lose vital public services as province gives up revenues
“It is reckless to push ahead with privatization with no idea of how the millions in lost revenue will be replaced. The stakes are too high for Saskatchewan people, who rely on the benefits and services funded by profits from public liquor stores,” she says. “There is no justification for putting profits for private corporations ahead of the interests of Saskatchewan families and communities.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE