OPSEU prepares for fight against LCBO privatization

Note: The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents workers at the Crown-owned LCBO, are mounting a campaign to convince the government not to privatize the monopoly liquor board. Here is the press released issue on June 1.

Toronto (1 June 2010) – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is ramping up its campaign to prevent the sale of Crown corporations, especially the ultra-profitable Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

“In the face of Ontario’s $21 billion dollar deficit, selling Ontario’s crown jewels is getting another round of debate,” the union notes.

“Our message on this is clear: selling off any of Ontario’s assets, including the LCBO, is foolish. Why sell the goose that lays golden eggs year after year?”

Last year alone the LCBO, OLG, formerly the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation (OPG), brought in $4.3 billion dollars in profits. Each year these funds go directly into the provincial coffers to support health care, education and other public services that benefit the people of Ontario.

“The Ontario government is reportedly considering combining these enterprises into a ‘super corporation’ and selling a minority stake to private investors,” OPSEU says.
“Premier Dalton McGuinty is attempting to soften privatization by claiming that this ‘super corporation’ will be partially privatized. It is more than likely however that the scheme is to work towards complete privatization. It will be a déjà vu, reminiscent of the days when Petro-Canada and Air Canada were publicly held, before being gradually sold off to the private sector.”

OPSEU notes that the Ontario Liberal government has turned to Goldman Sachs, the notoriously greedy New York investment bank, to provide advice on the sale of Ontario’s crown jewels.
“With Goldman Sachs offering advice to McGuinty on privatization, it is unlikely that the ‘best interests’ of the people of Ontario will be served,” OPSEU argues.

“We don’t want Dalton McGuinty to make the same mistake Mike Harris made when he sold off Highway 407 at a bargain basement price.”

OPSEU says the experience of Albertans since liquor sales were privatized in 1993 has shown that the idea is not only bad socially but costly financially. Impaired driving rates went up and crime increased.

“As a public agency, the LCBO has a mandate to sell alcohol responsibly,” OPSEU says.

“Each year, LCBO employees refuse to serve thousands of people who are under-age or intoxicated. Social responsibility keeps our communities safe.”