BCGEU says the province should say no to liquor lobbyists, take back the $160 million it is now spending to subsidize private liquor operators and expand the province's network of publicly-run retail stores.
Vancouver (30 Sept. 2009) - If the B.C. government needs to save money, one of the first expenses it should cut is the $160 million it now spends to subsidize private liquor retailers, says the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).
Union president Darryl Walker commented on the issue this week after the Vancouver Sun published an article indicating that private liquor interests are gearing up for yet another campaign to close the province's publicly-owned network of liquor stores.
The article – by a liquor lobbyist – called for the government to "get out of the liquor business."
"If lobbyist Mark Hicken is so concerned about budget cuts in important public services then he should be arguing for a rollback in the lavish subsidies Victoria gives private liquor stores," Walker responded in a letter to the newspaper.
"Each year, the Campbell government provides $160 million in handouts to private stores through discounts on the purchase price of stock. And those subsidy rates have escalated significantly in the past few years," he says.
"One solution that would provide immediate relief for the government's budget challenges would be to roll back subsidies to the 2002 level when the Liberals opened the floodgates for private liquor interests to set up shop. That would add $60 million to fund grants for school sports programs, environmental initiatives, and mental health services, and priorities like health and education."
If Hicken were really concerned about promoting an efficient retail system, Walker adds, he would join us in calling for an expansion - not the elimination - of public stores.
"That's because public stores have the lowest prices-up to 35 per cent less-and the best product selection. And they pay staff decent wages to support families and build strong local economies," he adds. "Clearly in challenging economic times, public stores offer the best value for consumers and taxpayers alike."
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