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Government's LCBO Policy Hard to Swallow:

July 17, 2005
Government's LCBO Policy Hard to Swallow:
Beverage Alcohol System Review Hits the Mark, but Falls on Deaf Ears

Whitby, Ontario: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation reacted today to recommendations made by Ontario's Beverage Alcohol System Review, regarding the future of the distribution and sale of beverage alcohol in Ontario. In its report, the expert panel unanimously concluded that "the Ontario government should withdraw from the ownership and operation of wholesale and retail beverage alcohol business, and instead create a regulated but competitive marketplace."

The Panel's report states further that a new strategy would still provide $1.5 billion a year in revenue to the government, and would generate over $200 million in additional annual revenue through license fees paid to operate retail and wholesale businesses.

Almost immediately, Finance Minister Greg Sorbara rejected the Panel's findings saying, "We are not selling the LCBO", and "We will not turn the LCBO into an income trust."

"It is time for the Government of Ontario to end its liquor cartel," stated CTF Ontario Director Tasha Kheiriddin. "Liquor taxes would still be collected in a private system, would eliminate expensive salaries, and would provide consumers with a greater choice of products." This is currently the case in Alberta, where the private sector provides consumers with a choice of 21,587 products vs. 13,600 in Ontario's government-run monopoly.

"Premier McGuinty and Minister Sorbara should focus on getting back to the basics, and look for innovative ways to eliminate Ontario's deficit. Maintaining an inefficient monopoly on the sale of alcohol is not the answer," concluded Kheiriddin. "For taxpayers, keeping the LCBO on the public tab is becoming increasingly hard to swallow."
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