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Privatization of alcohol sale in Ontario

LCBO Workers Announce Largest Strike Vote in History

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Yesterday, LCBO workers announced that they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike, with 97% supporting the action. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), representing over 9,000 LCBO workers across Ontario, has been wrestling with the Doug Ford government's push to deregulate and privatize the sale of alcohol.

The Ontario PCs initially announced the scheme to allow for the private sale of beer, wine, and cider at convenience stores in December of 2023. Premier Ford announced in May that all convenience and grocery stores would be allowed to sell beer, wine and cider by 2026.

The LCBO contributes approximately $2.5 billion to Ontario's annual budget. Sell-offs and outsourcing would divert public funds "to help big box grocery store CEOs get even richer from alcohol sales,” says OPSEU president JP Hornick.

In May, the union launched an advertising campaign denouncing "the absurdity of Premier Ford’s plan to privatize alcohol sales and hand billions of dollars in public revenue over to grocery chains and corporations." To "assist Doug Ford in helping billionaires," the union has also created a satirical crowdfunding website called

Threats to Job Security at the LCBO​​​​​​​

From June 12 to 15, 8,060 LCBO workers (86%) voted on the strike mandate, marking the largest turnout for a strike vote in LCBO history. On June 15, the Liquor Board Employee Division (LBED) of OPSEU announced that "this record turnout will send a strong message to Doug Ford and the LCBO that we aren’t backing down in this fight."

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy claimed that the Government of Ontario has no intentions of privatizing the LCBO. However, the government has already outsourced online order fulfillment, data management, printing services, and warehouse work. Previously, unionized LCBO employees did this work. 

Furthermore, according to LBED chair Colleen MacLeod, “the LCBO wants to remove the parts of our contract that stop them from closing LCBO stores, laying off permanent employees, and contracting out our work.”

"They also want to remove all caps on the number of grocery stores that sell alcohol. Doug Ford has a lot of nerve saying our jobs are 'secure' when his government tells the LCBO to bring that to the bargaining table."

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