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LCBO union asks Ontario to shelve plans to sell beer in grocery stores

Union argues plan is being rushed through without proper consultation

The union representing the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is asking the provincial government to shelve its plans to allow up to 450 grocers to sell beer.

Denise Davis, chair of the Liquor Board Employees Division of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) voiced her concerns at Thursday’s legislative committee hearing.

Davis says the plan is being rushed through without proper study or consultation, and that the government needs to listen to someone with actual expertise around alcohol policy.

“By expanding the number of outlets that sell alcohol and treating it as a food rather than a drug, the province is encouraging Ontarians to drink more,” she said in a media statement. “We will all pay for it.”

The OPSEU represents about 7,000 LCBO workers.

Warren Thomas, OPSEU president, echoed Davis’ concerns, saying Ontario’s current alcohol retail system is a “wise compromise between the dangers of the unregulated market and the absurdity of Prohibiton.”

When Premier Kathleen Wynne first announced the plan to sell beer in grocery stores last month, the union released a statement saying the report displays “profound ignorance of the relationship between alcohol, society and government budgets.”

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association also expressed its disappointment, noting the proposed plan would radically tip the scales in favour or large grocery stores when it comes to their competition with convenience stores.

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