The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union condemns today’s announcement by the Minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act of the government’s approval for seven more agency stores. This brings the total number of Agency Stores to 58.
According to NSGEU President Joan Jessome, “We think it is important to remember that when the Agency Store initiative started, Rodney MacDonald (then the Minister Responsible for the Liquor Control Act) committed the government in October 2000 to allowing only eight Agency Stores. We were willing to live with that limited number, but the government then decided later to break that commitment. It approved 15 more in 2005, 13 more in 2006, allowed for up to another 36 in December 2006, and approved up to another 15 more in 2007, before today’s announcement.”
Jessome said that it was almost exactly a year ago that Premier McNeil promised there would be no further privatization of NSLC. He said in an email to NSGEU on June 7, 2013: “A Liberal government will not privatize or sell off the NSLC, nor will we change the manner in which alcohol is retailed/distributed in Nova Scotia”. She noted: ”Adding seven new Agency Stores does change how alcohol is distributed in those communities, and opens the door to still more privatization across the province.”
She also questioned how opening new Agency Stores will “provide rural communities with additional economic activity and employment opportunities” as the Minister has claimed. Instead, she stated that her members were telling her that the NSLC has already been cutting hours in rural areas, and currently reviewing a number of class one stores. “If the government was truly interested in creating good paying jobs, they should open up more NSLC stores”.
Jessome concluded: “We fully support all efforts to increase and improve customer satisfaction using our members’ services at the NSLC. They have repeatedly committed themselves to extending their services to under serviced communities. Today’s announcement is a major step backwards for the public and rural communities, as we have seen in other provinces, especially in Alberta.”