Baillie Gets it Wrong: Privatization of Alcohol Sales is Not Good for Nova Scotians or Our Economy

May 23, 2013

Halifax: “Baillie is desperate to create some political wedge issue for himself, but privatization of alcohol sales should not be used as a political football, “says Joan Jessome, President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union.

“With over 106 locations throughout the province, Nova Scotians have plenty of access to alcohol. NSLC stores are modern with excellent products and staff who are trained, helpful, and responsible for keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. As well, the profits from liquor sales return to the public through government investment in health care, schools and other public services.”

The NS Conservative Party today released a discussion paper advocating for the privatization of alcohol sales that includes what appears to be an endorsement by MADD Canada. However, just yesterday MADD Canada released an 18-page policy paper in support of the provincial liquor board model that concludes with a quote that contradicts Jamie Baillie’s position entirely.

“Experience in other countries and in Canada indicates that privatizing alcohol sales will increase alcohol-related deaths, injuries and social problems through increased alcohol availability and consumption.”

 In Provincial Liquor Boards: Meeting the Best Interests of Canadians, MADD Canada Policy Backgrounder – Revised May 2013, page 15

They point out that even a partial privatization approach will lead to a shift in the mode of operations: “The balance of ensuring public interest and safety is replaced by a market-driven system of maximum return for shareholder value. Public accountability and transparency are lost in the process.”

In MADD Canada’s report, they cite B.C. as an example, where a partial privatization approach was implemented in 2002. The number of liquor stores in that province increased from 786 to 1.294 in a six-year period, with overall alcohol consumption increasing by 8 per cent in that same time frame.

“With over 650 impaired drivers charged this past year in Nova Scotia”, continues Jessome, “the public is best served by these well-managed and trained NSLC staff who help keep the public safe.”

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