OPSEU Local 497 members rally against privatizing LCBO stores

Members from OPSEU local 497 believe the Ford government is trying to privatize liquor sales one store at a time. Jennifer Basa

Members from OPSEU Local 497 say the Ford government is trying to privatize liquor sales one store at a time.

The latest protest stems from the province’s recent decision to double the number of LCBO “convenience stores” by the end of this year, which will make it easier for customers to buy LCBO products.

     “What that does is those areas, the owners themselves are the ones that are profiting from the money,” said Theresa Graham, president for OPSEU Local 497. “I’m told 5-10 cents per every dollar spent goes to those owners.”

READ MORE: Canada’s competition watchdog supports loosening Ontario liquor rules

Global News spoke with MPP Steve Clark, who said Friday that allowing more independent local retailers to sell booze is about giving customers more convenience.

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“I think there is opportunity to modernize the system, and grow the system without causing any significant job changes,” says Clark.

However, OPSEU said privatizing sales not only put LCBO jobs at risk but also jeopardizes public safety.

“Our members here are all about keeping our community safe. We ID people that are underage, we challenge people that could be intoxicated… We take our jobs very seriously,” says graham.

The LCBO currently has 209 convenience outlets across Ontario, with plans to add another 200 in smaller communities by the end of 2019.

READ MORE: Ford government announces expansion of alcohol sales to hundreds of new stores

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