June 18, 2014
U-Vint/U-Brew Consultation – Phase 2
c/o Department of Finance and Treasury Board
Province of Nova Scotia
PO Box 187, Halifax, NS B3J 2N3
I am writing on behalf of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union to provide input about the draft regulations for a licensing regime for ferment-on-premises businesses. This follows the passage of the enabling amendments to the Liquor Control Act found in Bill 52 during the Spring Sitting of the Legislature.
As you know, we have the privilege of representing approximately 1,100 NSLC employees, and I wrote on January 15 to express our concern about the potential impact of these businesses on the jobs and collective agreements of our members. The Minister replied on February 19 to indicate that she did not think these businesses would significantly affect NSLC sales and these legislative changes are being used to set standards for an already existing service in the province.
However, we remain concerned, especially when the broader picture is taken into account with the recent announcement of seven new Agency Stores, coupled with the reduction of hours in rural NSLC outlets, and the review and possible reduction of a number of class one stores. Every additional move towards a completely privatized system of alcoholic product production, distribution and sales moves us that much further away from a properly regulated, socially responsible, and fully accountable public body running this system.
After Bill 52 was introduced, we consulted with our members who had a number of specific concerns about the legislative amendments and a possible regulatory regime. Their concerns were as follows:
- Alcohol is a controlled substance which has to be handled and sold, with this key point in mind as a backdrop to any initiatives to make it easier to obtain.
- The health impacts of having easier, on-hand access should be fully assessed before finalizing the new system, especially for young people.
- The proposed regulations would allow people under the age of 19 years of age to be employed in a FOP facility which is not permitted in the PEI regulations under Section 50.8 (24). This is very problematic for our members. There should be an “Employees” section as is outlined in Section 3.6 of the PEI Policy Manual.
- There are no limits on the hours of operation, as is made possible by Section 6 (b) (gm) of Bill 52, and as specified in Section 3.7 of the PEI FOP Policy Manual.
- There is no requirement for a set of social responsibility programs or campaigns, such as requiring age identification for every transaction, as is done by NSLC on an ongoing basis.
- There are no apparent controls on how much any one person can brew at a time, how much can be brewed in the facility as a whole, how much product can be stockpiled, or any limits on the alcoholic content of the finished product.
- There is also no apparent limit on the number of licences that can be issued or renewed.
- There is no provision for independent checks on quality control.
- There are no pricing requirements, especially as compared to NSLC products, which could adversely impact at least some NSLC sales.
- There are very limited reporting and inspection requirements based on the points previously stated.
- There should be an Enforcement section, as made possible by Section 6 (c)(lg) of Bill 52, and such as that found in Section 8 of the PEI Policy Manual.
- If there are proposed policies similar to those in PEI to complement the draft regulations, they should be clearly stated in a Policy Manual and subject to public input before they may come into effect.
All in all, we feel that there are significant gaps and shortcomings with the proposed draft regulations. These points should be taken into account before finalizing the regulations and a possible set of complimentary policies.
We appreciate your willingness to receive our input at this time. We would be pleased to elaborate further if needed.
Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union