REGINA – The province’s plan to privatize more than half of the publicly-owned liquor stores has the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) saying that trouble is brewing.
They’re saying the province is pouring money “down the drain” and want the plan abolished.
“Over the last five fiscal years combined, the government’s proposal would have cost the SLGA and by extension the provincial government, nearly 100 million dollars,” CCPA spokesperson David Campanella Polsom said.
But Don McMorris, the Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming (SLGA), said they’re poorly distilling the information.
“We’re not making a move if it’s going to start costing the government a $100 million” he said.
“That would not be a wise thing to do. I can guarantee the public that isn’t the case.”
The province makes most of its liquor revenue in wholesale markup.
The CCPA arrived at their $100 million loss with a calculation that uses a proposed 25 per cent retailer discount. This proposed discount comes from the government’s privatization plan, which was released on November 18, 2015.
McMorris countered that it doesn’t take into account the existing 16 per cent retailer discount, which he said the SLGA did in the November report.
The Saskatchewan Government Employees’ Union (SGEU) joined CCPA in criticizing the government’s plan. The union says the government is “selling off” assests that pay for essential services.
“Not only does it create the good paying family supporting jobs but it provides a profit right back to the taxpayers and right back to the province to cover everything from education, highways and hospitals, all of it,” SGEU member Bob Stadnichuk argued.
Another of SGEU’s main concerns is the sale of 40 of the province’s 75 private liquor stores impacting over 200 SLGA employees and union members.
McMorris acknowledged this is a difficult part of the process, but said current SLGA employees will be given preferential treatment if they want to take over stores scheduled for privatization.