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NDP says 350 SLGA employees are looking at unemployment in January

One of Saskatchewan's liquor stores in Moose Jaw that will be affected by the province's decision to step away from retail. Global News/ Derek Putz

Official Opposition critic for jobs and economy Aleana Young said more than 350 SLGA employees are staring down unemployment in the new year.

“With the release of the mid-year financials again we see this is the Sask Party government sitting in a good place economically when it comes to the government books, but instead of seeing the results for people, instead of seeing an investment in public service and in publicly owned Crowns, we’re seeing a government that would prefer to have hundreds of hard-working public servants out of a job heading into the holiday season,” Young said.

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The province announced on Oct. 26 that it would be exiting the retail market to make more room for liquor retail.

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“We’ve had private liquor stores across the province for years, we had all our cannabis stores private here and they do quite well. We want to focus our efforts as a government on what people view as a core business,” Premier Scott Moe said in October.

He explained that core businesses to the government are often considered those that offer health-care services, those that assist in building new health-care facilities, and those in the education and highway sectors.

Moe added there will be processes to help SLGA employees transition to new employment roles.

Young said it’s great to see a surplus in the mid-year report, but added that if it’s not money that will benefit the people, and create an economy that keeps people employed and able to afford the cost of living, then it’s not an economy that is working.

She said these are profitable stores, but the government is unwilling to update and adapt these businesses.

She said there are workers who don’t know what they are going to do next, and that the government’s decision to move away from retail is a shortsighted one.

“We see food bank use through the roof.”

She said wages are stagnant, and that the province has created fewer jobs in the past decade than P.E.I., which has the same population as Regina.

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Read more: SLGA retails not considered ‘core businesses’ by Saskatchewan government

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Global News reached out to the province for a response, and received an audio recording of Lori Carr, minister responsible for SLGA, during Tuesday’s media scrum at the legislature.

Carr said the stores will start closing the third week in January, with a slow transition to the end of March.

“Of the 34 stores, we own 19. The remainder are leased,” Carr said.

“Right now we’re going through the workplace adjustment plan. I don’t know the specific details of all of that, that’s stuff that happens between the employer and employee, and they’re working through that right now and hopefully have some sort of resolution soon.”

She also corrected the NDP’s number of SLGA employees, saying it was 287 full-time equivalents.

— with files from Brooke Kruger

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