OPSEU Calls on Premier Ford to Crack Down on Alcohol Sales

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TORONTO – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the Ford government be as responsible with the sale of alcohol as it’s becoming with the sale of vaping products.

“The Premier and the Health Minister are doing the right thing by trying to cut down on the damage vaping does. Now it’s time for them to do the right thing with alcohol,” said Thomas.

“Nicotine and alcohol are both dangerous substances that can destroy people’s lives and cost our health care system billions,” said Thomas. “It would be negligent to crack down on nicotine while opening the flood gates on alcohol by allowing its sale in corner stores.”

Yesterday, the Health Minister banned the advertising of vaping products in convenience and corner stores. But to the alarm of public health and addictions experts, the Ford government is being heavily lobbied to let corner stores sell alcohol.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says Ontario already loses more than $5 billion a year in extra health costs and lost productivity because of alcohol use. And in a policy paper released last month, Ontario’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) called for a moratorium on private alcohol sales, citing research evidence that privatization leads to more use and more harm.

“The use and abuse of alcohol is no joke – it causes real damage to real people,” adds OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “As a correctional officer, I have seen the results of how alcohol can lead to crime or sad endings for many people. And as Vice-President of a union that represents health care workers, I know there are many emergency hospital visits because of alcohol.”

Thomas is calling on the Ford government to show leadership and humility and walk back their ill-advised plans to expand private alcohol sales.

“When it comes to the responsible sale of alcohol, the publicly owned and managed LCBO is tried, tested, and true,” said Thomas. “Because it’s publicly owned and managed, the LCBO’s first priority isn’t selling more, it’s selling responsibly. That means keeping it out of the hands of kids and people who are intoxicated, and ensuring that all the profits go back into public services like our hospitals and treatment programs. It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

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