MGEU fights liquor privatization in Manitoba

MGEU debunks claim that alcohol is just another commodity like blue jeans.


Winnipeg (6 Jan. 2009) - The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) is again warning of the danger of privatizing liquor sales in the province.

Responding to another call for privatization from the Winnipeg Free Press, the union takes issue with a claim by the newspaper that selling liquor is no different than selling blue jeans.

"The fact is, there are thousands of people in treatment programs today who would say that alcohol is vastly different from the myriad of products you find on store shelves, including blue jeans," MGEU argues.

"Alcohol is an intoxicant and it can be extremely harmful if misused or abused. The fact is that regulating alcohol sales is the responsible choice for Manitoba families and communities. Further, the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) provides valuable service to the citizens of this province."

MGEU, which represents workers at all MLCC stores, has been a vocal proponent of keeping the sale and distribution of beverage alcohol in Manitoba regulated and controlled by government. Here are the top 10 reasons the union cites for continued public control:

  1. Alcohol is a drug and as such its sale should be regulated for the public good, not for private profit.
  2. MLCC revenue is used, in part, to fund programs to help treat alcohol addiction.
  3. MLCC revenue stays in Manitoba for the benefit of all Manitobans.
  4. MLCC revenue funds health care, education and other government services.
  5. MLCC revenue funds awareness campaigns about the dangers of alcohol abuse.
  6. Deregulation of the industry has led to serious social issues in jurisdictions like Alberta, including an increase in alcohol-related crime.
  7. MLCC staff put public safety before sales quotas.
  8. MLCC staff check identification rigorously to deal with under-aged and intoxicated patrons.
  9. MLCC offers more outlets, better hours and greater product selection for the convenience of customers.
  10. Deregulation of the industry has led to higher, not lower, prices for consumers in other jurisdictions.

MGEU is urging members to speak out by letting the newspaper and the government know that they oppose privatization. The union has been working with other labour groups, including the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU/NUPGE), to oppose deregulation of the liquor industry.

Liquor privatization has become a threat in Saskatchewan since the province's right-wing Saskatchewan Party government came to power. NUPGE

More information:

SGEU message: Privatize Liquor Stores? Why Risk It? - pdf

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