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Archive for March, 2015


LCBO union head pulling back on claim wine and beer in grocery stores would increase violence against women

Vito Pilieci, Postmedia News | March 18, 2015 | Last Updated: Mar 18 9:45 AM ET

(Sixty per cent of Ontarians over the age of 18 support the idea of selling beer and wine in alternative establishments, according to an Angus Reid study commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Store Association last year.
Brent Lewin / Bloomberg Sixty per cent of Ontarians over the age of 18 support the idea of selling beer and wine in alternative establishments, according to an Angus Reid study commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Store Association last year.)

The president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union is dialling back on a claim that allowing more stores to sell beer and wine will spur more violence against women.

However, Warren (Smokey) Thomas says he continues to believe that increasing the availability of alcohol will have repercussions the government doesn’t appear to have considered.

Last week, Thomas issued a statement saying that allowing grocery stores to sell beer could lead to more violence. “We know alcohol contributes to violence, and this makes us question Premier Kathleen Wynne’s commitment to making women in this province safe,” it said.

On Tuesday, he took a quieter tone.

“Our point was this, the more you ‘liberalize’ the sale of alcohol, the more you will increase social problems,” Thomas said. “What she (Premier Kathleen Wynne) wants to do flies in the face of what the liquor control board stands for. It then just becomes mass retailing of alcohol.”

Thomas’s initial comments, which followed a newspaper report suggesting Ontario may license as many as 300 grocery stores to sell beer and wine alongside the brewery-owned Beer Store outlets and government-owned Liquor Control Board stores that now control most alcohol sales in the province, have helped bring the booze-sale debate to a head.

Even those who work with victims of domestic violence won’t say that increasing the number of beer and wine retailers will bring more violence.

Tara Henderson, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, said that while alcohol is a factor in some cases of domestic violence, she is unaware of studies linking expanded access to more abuse.

“Alcohol can be purchased from a lot of different places,” said Henderson. “I don’t see why there could be a significant increase (in violence).”

The union president says debate over his admittedly “controversial” claim has deflected attention from his key point: Why was the rumoured arrangement negotiated in secret and why does it appear to favour a handful of large corporations?

According to the Toronto Star, the government will open an auction for 300 licences to sell alcohol at grocery stores, with no one chain being allowed to own more than 25 per cent of the licences.

Thomas asked what’s to stop a large convenience store chain from outbidding the grocery chains, which would allow beer and wine to be sold at corner stores across the province — a situation the premier has objected to openly.

Thomas represents more than 5,000 employees at the province’s LCBO stores. He insisted his objections aren’t based on securing his members’ jobs, and said his members could in fact benefit from increased jobs in warehousing and logistics if more retailers are allowed.

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