Supporters of publicly run liquor sales raise concerns about privatization of sector: $2.5 billion is a lot of money to give away to corporate interests that have no commitment to Saskatchewan and will take their profits elsewhere.
Regina (06 Nov. 2014) — The Saskatchewan government’s recently announced consultation on liquor privatization will help shed light on the question of who benefits if liquor sales are turned over to private companies, according to the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).
Saskatchewan government consulting on whether to completely privatize liquor sales
“There’s a lot at stake for Saskatchewan families and communities in this debate,” says Donna Christianson, chair of the negotiating committee for SGEU’s Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
Public liquor sales generated $252 million in net income for the province last year. When profit from liquor sales stays in public hands, it helps fund services like health care, education, highways and long-term care homes.
If liquor sales are completely privatized, the province will lose $2.5 billion in the next ten years
“If liquor sales are handed to private companies, Saskatchewan citizens stand to lose as much as $2.5 billion in the next ten years. That’s a lot of income to give away to corporate interests who have no commitment to Saskatchewan, and who will take their profits elsewhere,” says Christianson.
“Saskatchewan people benefit when liquor sales are kept in public hands because profits are re-invested in our province and our people,” she says.
“We need to consider who wins and who loses if liquor profits are turned over to private businesses,” Christianson adds. “Revenue from liquor sales should go back into local communities and help fund services that support families. That money should not be siphoned off to swell the profits of wealthy business owners and corporate shareholders.”
Sobeys, the second-largest grocery chain in Canada, and the Saskatchewan government were awarded the Privatization Scam of the Year Award for partially privatizing liquor sales
The public had the option to vote for one of five privatization scams from across the country, but the Saskatchewan government's handing over of public liquor sales in Saskatchewan, to one of Canada's wealthiest families was deemed the sleaziest privatization scam for 2013. The Award ceremony was developed as a way to highlight the increase in public services being privatized across Canada. The Award was also designed to engage the general public to send a message to government and corporations that people support their public services.
"I'm sure Sobeys doesn't mind having low- and middle-income Saskatchewan residents paying more for both public services and liquor to help boost its profit margin," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), which sponsored the Award. "But clearly, what the public has said with their votes is that they do mind. And we're fighting back."
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