“It looks like this government is putting corporate interests ahead of public safety. But there’s still time to fix it, and OPSEU/NUPGE members will keep up the fight to hold them accountable.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (13 Dec. 2018) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), is demanding that Doug Ford come clean about his secret deal to privatize Ontario’s cannabis warehouse amid startling new revelations that,to avoid public scrutiny, his staff tried to conceal the cost of a sole-sourced, “personalized” camper van for the Premier.
Secrecy around privatized cannabis warehouse raises questions
“This is a government that’s operating in the shadows, despite all the empty talk about restoring transparency, accountability and trust,” said Thomas. “Ford can’t continue to hide important information that people deserve to know. They just won’t put up with the cover-ups, cronyism and corruption that have quickly become this government’s stock-in-trade.”
For months, OPSEU/NUPGE has been asking the Progressive Conservatives to provide basic information about the Ontario Cannabis Store distribution centre, including how much citizens are shelling out for the warehouse and which company got the contract. But the government has refused to comply.
OPSEU/NUPGE has uncovered the location of the 78,000 square foot facility in Oakville, but there are still a lot of questions that the government must answer.
“Given the latest revelations that Ford’s staff told the OPP to order a camper van for the premier but keep it ‘off the books,’ I can’t help but wonder: What else is Ford hiding?” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU's First Vice-President/Treasurer.
“He’s rushed into this reckless plan to privatize the cannabis industry with so little thought to how it could hurt kids in communities. Who else is benefiting from this scheme? Are they connected to the Ford family? If this premier is ‘for the people,’ then he should show them some respect and come clean," said Almeida.
"The public needs to know who is working in the warehouse, what criteria was used in the hiring process, what kind of security checks were made, what kind of security clearance they have, and are privacy issues of customers front and centre," Almeida added.
Rule changes allow cannabis retailers to set up 150 metres, instead of 450 metres, away from schools
"The warehouse debacle is yet another embarrassment for the rookie government, which has completely bungled the rollout of legalized cannabis — the biggest change to public policy in generations," he said.
Ford broke a key election promise to help keep cannabis away from children, vowing that stores would have to be more than 450 metres away from schools. Under new regulations, they can set up shop just 150 metres away.
“I don’t know who’s pulling the strings in the Premier’s office, but the only people who benefit from that are private retailers keen to turn a profit, not parents who want to keep their kids safe,” Almeida said.
"Municipalities can still vote to ‘opt-out’ of private cannabis and demand that Ford roll out a responsible plan with the LCBO handling cannabis sales," Thomas added.
“It looks like this government is putting corporate interests ahead of public safety. But there’s still time to fix, it and OPSEU/NUPGE members will keep up the fight to hold them accountable.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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