'Opening these new specialty wine stores is just a way of turning liquor sales over to private interests.' - SGEU president Bob Bymoen.
Regina (7 May 2009) - The Saskatchewan government's decision to award franchises to two private operators to run specialty wine stores is a cause for concern to provincial taxpayers, says the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).
This announcement comes on the heels of news from both Alberta and British Columbia that private liquor vendors are charging customers more for their wine, beer and spirits.
"We see the opening of two new private wine stores in Saskatchewan as the thin edge of the wedge, a first step toward more private liquor sales in this province," says SGEU president Bob Bymoen.
"I don't think that is going to be beneficial for Saskatchewan people. We typically think that private liquor stores will deliver a better price but recent studies suggest that just isn't the case," he adds.
A survey of private liquor stores in Victoria, B.C. has revealed that private liquor retailers are charging up to 35% more than B.C.'s public stores. In addition, the Calgary Herald recently reported that liquor store prices in Alberta's private stores are escalating, and that Albertans living close to the border are choosing to shop in Saskatchewan where prices are lower.
"There is no legitimate reason why the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) could not supply more specialty wine products, if that is what customers want," says Bymoen.
"Opening these new specialty wine stores is just a way of turning liquor sales over to private interests. Our publicly-owned liquor stores offer competitive pricing and, even more importantly they are committed to the socially-responsible sale of alcohol. That’s extremely important for keeping our families and communities safe and healthy."
Profits from public liquor sales are returned to the people of Saskatchewan, and help pay for schools, hospitals and roads. Last year, $173 million was collected from public liquor sales and re-invested in the province’s infrastructure.
“Saskatchewan people should ask themselves, who is profiting from this move toward private liquor sales?" says Bymoen. "Is it all of us, the citizens and residents of the province, or is it a few private business owners?”
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
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