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Canada’s Pulse: Vast majority of maritimers support privatizing liquor sales

Should liquor sales be privatized? More than two-thirds of people in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick say yes, according to a new Global/Ipsos poll.

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation brings in about $220 million a year and its counterpart in New Brunswick rakes in $160 million. Both have a monopoly on retail sales so we asked if residents would support the privatization of their provincial liquor corporation.

In Nova Scotia, 70% said yes, while in New Brunswick the number of supporters was 66%.

There is only one fully private liquor industry in Canada, that’s in Alberta where it has proven successful.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it’s an idea worth looking at because it’s a win-win for both customers and the government.

“better customer service, with more products, at a lower price. But second the revenue generated could go into services like health care, education and reduced taxes, says CTF’s Kevin Lacey.

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While both provinces recorded profits of more than $100 million, Lacey feels they could do even better with privatization.

“the sale of the liquor corp would draw in a huge lump sum and go on to other things the government thinks is important, and reduce the province’s debt, which would reduce the overall payments every year in the provincial budget.”

But not everybody thinks it’s a good idea.

“My first though is it would provide convenience for some people but then the next question would be at what cost,” wonders addictions counselor Judy Uquhart.

She says more liquor stores could mean more visual triggers for recovering addicts. She’s also not sure the regulations could be easily enforced through private enterprise.

In an email to Global News, the Nova Scotia government says it has no plans to privatize the corporation.

With files from Tino Makris and Devin Stevens