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LCBO workers consider strike as Beer Store gets OK to sell lottery tickets

Click to play video: 'Ontario government changes will allow The Beer Store to sell lotto tickets'
Ontario government changes will allow The Beer Store to sell lotto tickets
WATCH: Ontario government changes will allow The Beer Store to sell lotto tickets – Jun 12, 2024

The Ford government will allow The Beer Store to sell lottery tickets when it liberalizes the sale of alcohol across Ontario as part of a deal to keep the privately owned conglomerate afloat.

At the end of May, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced his government was paying up to $225 million to The Beer Store as part of a plan to speed up the sale of beer, wine and pre-mixed drinks at convenience and grocery stores.

The announcement moved the alcohol liberalization date up from the beginning of 2026 to the summer and fall of 2024. The phased expansion will now begin on Aug. 1 and run through to Oct. 31.

The changes mean 8,500 new convenience and grocery stores will soon be able to carry all alcohol apart from liquor and spirits.

As part of that agreement, the government is allowing The Beer Store to diversify what it sells until at least 2033.

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Language in the agreement between The Beer Store and the Ontario government allows it to sell beer, cider and lottery tickets. The agreement continues to ban its stores from carrying tobacco and cannabis.

Click to play video: 'Doug Ford announces coolers, 30-pack cases of beer are coming to Ontario grocery, big-box stores'
Doug Ford announces coolers, 30-pack cases of beer are coming to Ontario grocery, big-box stores

The Beer Store, which is owned by Labatt, Sleeman and Molson, did not comment on the lottery ticket sales.

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“In the coming weeks and months, people in Ontario, like many Canadians across the country, will have the option to responsibly and conveniently purchase a case of beer or a bottle of wine on their way up to the cottage,” Ford said at the May 24 announcement.

“They’re excited to hear that they’re finally being treated as adults.”

The government has faced criticism for the move, which the Ontario Liberals have suggested could cost Ontario more than $1 billion in total, not just the $225 million the government announced.

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Click to play video: 'Ford speeds up timeline for booze in Ontario convenience stores'
Ford speeds up timeline for booze in Ontario convenience stores

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy insisted last week the deal was good value for the public.

“We have the numbers we made public on May 24 about supporting The Beer Store and the jobs there, and we’re going to continue to open up this market,” he said.

“This is going to create a lot of jobs, according to the convenience association. It’s going to create economic activity. … It’s what the people want.”

The union that represents employees at the government-run LCBO doesn’t agree with the finance minister’s assessment and is raising the alarm. Its president said Wednesday that workers are in “the fight of our lives” to keep jobs and reduce closures now that alcohol is set to move to other stores.

“Doug Ford has taken Ontario profits and sent them off to somebody else,” Coleen MacLeod, president of OPSEU’s liquor board employee division, told Global News.

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“Whether it’s grocery, whether it’s convenience stores — and it’s going to be big convenience stores. This is for the 7/11s and the Circle Ks of this world. It’s not for the mom-and-pop stores.”

Click to play video: 'LCBO workers call for job security ahead of contract talks'
LCBO workers call for job security ahead of contract talks

MacLeod said it was “clear” the policy would lead to LCBO store closures in the province.

“You can’t add 8,500 more locations to sell alcohol in this province and expect that the LCBO will still be around,” she said. “There will be store closures, that’s clear.”

The LCBO union is holding a strike vote from Wednesday, June 12 to 15.

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