MGEU says Conservatives would expand liquor privatization

Provincial opposition leader would increase number of private retail outlets


Winnipeg (27 March 2007) - The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) is warning that private liquor sales will expand if the Conservatives win the next provincial election.

"The fact is, public management in the public interest is more advantageous than private, for-profit when it comes to the sale of alcohol," the union says.

"One of the most compelling arguments in favour of maintaining government control of liquor sales is this: instead of lining the pockets of private owners, that money should be used to reduce our debt, bolster Manitoba’s health and education systems, invest in infrastructure, and fund programs that give kids options to guns, gangs, drugs, and auto theft," the MGEU argues.

"Revenues from the sale of alcohol should be used to help fund addictions programs or other health related initiatives like the With Child, Without Alcohol program aimed at pregnant women.

"Alcohol is not just any product, it is an intoxicant. It can be dangerous if used improperly. The Province, whose interests are not sales first, safety later like they may be in the private sector, should responsibly regulate the sale of alcohol."

Public outlets offer better protection

The MGEU has advocated strongly that liquor control systems are better able to protect consumers from alcohol abuse than are profit-driven facilities.

"MLCC staff has no vested interests in what you buy and have no sales quotas to meet. For these and other reasons, they are less likely to sell alcohol products to minors or intoxicated persons," the union says.

"And the MLCC has addressed issues of convenience by keeping many stores open later (until 11 p.m.) while the province has allowed Sunday hours for people who want to shop for alcoholic beverages at that time."

The MGEU warning was prompted by a statement from Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen saying he will “expand the private market for specialty wine stores” if he replaces the NDP's Gary Doer as premier in the next election.

The province currently makes nearly $200 million a year in profits from the sale of beer, wine and liquor at publicly-owned and publicly-operated retail outlets.

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