Northern Ontario LCBO Identification Check Plan Cancelled Amid Privacy Concerns

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LCBO

Prompt Reversal on Pilot Project Following Community Backlash

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – The Ontario government has withdrawn a proposed plan to implement identification checks at the entrance of six Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores in Northern Ontario.

This decision comes in the wake of significant objections from the public, as confirmed by a spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Finance.

Initially announced on February 13, the LCBO’s 12-month pilot project aimed to mandate photo identification verification for customers looking at least 17 years old before entry into four stores in Thunder Bay and one each in Kenora and Sioux Lookout.

The intention was to scan IDs to verify their authenticity and validity, as part of measures to curb retail theft.

However, the initiative faced immediate backlash, leading to its abrupt cancellation. Colin Blachar, speaking for Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, emphasized the swift response to public disapproval. “After hearing serious concerns regarding the LCBO’s new pilot program within the last 24 hours, I have instructed the LCBO to discontinue the project immediately,” Blachar stated.

Blachar highlighted that while addressing safety is a priority, the LCBO would seek alternative methods in collaboration with community partners to maintain customer and employee security without the controversial ID checks.

The choice of locations for the pilot, according to the LCBO, was based on their unique geography which would allow an evaluation of the controlled entrances’ impact on theft without shifting the problem to nearby stores.

Nevertheless, the specific reasons for the program’s cancellation were not disclosed by the government.

Criticism from civil liberties groups played a significant role in the reversal, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association expressing severe privacy concerns. Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, the association’s executive director, criticized the plan for intending to collect and potentially share with police extensive data on individuals entering the affected stores, labeling it a “sweeping violation of individual privacy.”

In response to the controversy, the LCBO reassured the public of its commitment to reducing shoplifting and violent incidents through collaborative efforts aimed at ensuring a safe shopping environment for both customers and staff, without resorting to the criticized identification verification strategy.

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