Stop the talk about LCBO privatization, says OPSEU

The LCBO earns billions for Ontario taxpayers and they want it to remain in public hands.

Toronto (18 Dec. 2009) - Premier Dalton McGuinty should put an immediate end to speculation about the privatization of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) by declaring that the lucrative Crown corporation is not for sale, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

OPSEU represents more than 6,000 liquor board employees in communities across the province.

"How many more times are we going to go around the block on this issue?" asks OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

"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," he notes. "It should be a dead issue by now but somehow it keeps creeping back."

Thomas was responding to media reports this week that the government has retained the services of two banking investment firms to advise 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% of Ontarians want the LCBO to stay in public hands. The LCBO also rigidly enforces a policy of social responsibility by screening out sales to underage teens, intoxicated customers and third-party purchasers.

Thomas says privatization would also 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?" he asks. "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."

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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

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