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Put brakes on expansion of alcohol sales: OPSEU

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OPSEU president Warren (“Smokey”) Thomas is calling on the Ford government to start 2019 responsibly by freezing plans to further expand sales of alcohol.

Thomas said Ontarians should be alarmed over media reports on the serious shoplifting problems that occur regularly at LCBO stores.

“If shoplifting is a problem in LCBO outlets that have highly-trained staff, then what will happen in private retail outlets that have staff without that kind of training and experience?” asked Thomas.

“What will happen in corner stores?" he added. "The answer is that someone is going to get hurt, maybe even killed.”

Thomas is asking for a meeting with Premier Doug Ford to discuss the problems that will arise from his privatization plans for controlled substances.

“The premier should make a New Year's resolution to start listening to people who represent front-line workers so he can better understand what is going on,” said Thomas.

“I talk to our members who work in LCBO retail outlets every week so I know all about the danger of removing the control from controlled substances,” he remarked.

Thomas said the recent media coverage about shoplifting should make the government think twice about alcohol sales to grocery and corner stores.

“Alcohol is always going to attract the attention of thieves and the underground economy,” he warned.

“It's a commodity easily sold in the black market.”

Thomas also stressed the need for an immediate health and safety meeting between the LCBO and the union.

“Lives are at risk but there is an in-house solution that would preserve the consumer experience while protecting revenues and lives,” he noted.

“The premier and his government must openly support such a meeting.”

Thomas doubled down on routine police advice for LCBO staff not to intervene with thieves, many of whom could be armed.

“Nobody should go to work wondering if they might be put in harm's way over a $15 bottle of Vodka,” he said.

“The 'C' in LCBO stands for control and there are reasons for that,” Thomas added.

“It's high time Premier Ford understood this.”

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