OPSEU members take anti-privatization message to politicians at Queen's Park.
Toronto (2 March 2010) - With the McGuinty government reviewing Crown corporations for possible sale, members of the Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) have given provincial politicians an earful of reasons to leave the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) alone and let it remain in public hands.
Several dozen MPPs and political staffers attended a reception arranged at Queen's Park to serve MPPs some of Ontario's finest wines and to promote the “LCBO experience,” which customers enjoy when shopping at LCBO outlets.
The employees arranged the occasion because they wanted to deliver a blunt message to Ontario politicians: the highly-profitable LCBO is not for sale and the time has also come for the province to buy back dozens of privately-owned and operated agency stores that have been allowed to open over the years and are draining profits away from provincial coffers.
“The MPPs got an earful from us,” says Rick Woodall, chair of LBED’s privatization committee. “We told each and every one of them that selling off the LCBO would be a terrible mistake. We would lose hundreds of millions in future revenues and the LCBO’s role in promoting social responsibility would be damaged.”
LBED chair Denise Davis said MPPs were receptive to the employees' message.
“Certainly the NDP MPPs and many Liberals appeared to support us. They recognize that the LCBO is a valuable public asset and it shouldn’t be sold-off just to reduce the deficit,” noted Davis.
“Even a couple of Conservatives indicated some support, especially around the importance of the LCBO and social responsibility.”
In December, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that his government has retained the services of two banking investment firms to advise it on the possible privatization of several Crown corporations, including the LCBO.
OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas told employees and politicians at the event that the fight is never over when the issue involves LCBO privatization.
“We’ve been down this road before and we’ll probably go down it again,” said Thomas. “LBED knows first-hand that the people of Ontario have no interest in selling-off the LCBO."
The LBED also used the occasion to present MPPs with the results of an assessment by an independent consultant showing that the LCBO is losing more than $20 million a year in revenue from the most profitable agency stores. This amount will grow to a projected $340 million in total over the next 10 years if nothing is done by the province to restrain private liquor sales, the study shows.
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