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LCBO Strike: Another Ford Fiasco

July 6th, 2024 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, will the Ford government’s appeal to the lowest common denominator be its ultimate downfall?

The prospect of a dry summer has taken on new meaning in Ontario. Normally that would refer to hot weather and a scarcity of rain. But now it refers to the limited availability of liquor as 9,000 LCBO workers have walked off the job in the first strike in the history of the LCBO.

At stake is the Ford government’s decision to open up Ontario’s alcohol retail market to the private sector. The Ford government rhetoric machine is already ramped up to full capacity to muddy the waters and demonize OPSEU.

A “government source” was quoted as follows on the eve of the strike: If there’s no deal tonight, it’s because OPSEU has been almost exclusively focused on discussing the sale of ready-to-drink beverages and nothing else (i.e. wages, benefits, job security).

The Ford government has tried to create the impression that it is a one-issue debate in the hopes of simplifying the matter in the public’s eye thereby winning their support. It is a quite blatantly deceptive message.

OPSEU has been clear all along that it is the larger issue of opening up Ontario’s alcohol retail market to the private sector thereby putting LCBO jobs (and profits which help fund healthcare) at risk while benefiting private retailers including grocery chains and big box stores. In short, the Ford government is once again favouring big business over Joe Average Citizen.

The LCBO workforce is already at a distinct disadvantage. The union has stated that 70 per cent of LCBO workers are “casual” which means they have no guaranteed hours, benefits or sick pay. The LCBO has countered that “at least 50 percent of casual employees are guaranteed at least 1,000 hours per year”. So the other 50 percent are shit out of luck?

The “government source” went on to proclaim that: The government was elected twice on the commitment to expand the sale of alcoholic beverages to convenience and grocery stores, and the government is delivering on that promise.”

Really? The Ford government was elected exclusively on the basis of giving easier access to booze? And they are proud of that fact? It is a sad commentary on our political system if that in fact is true.

It does not take a genius to figure out that opening up alcohol retailing to big business will result in fewer workers at the LCBO and likely fewer LCBO stories. Not to mention even bigger profits for grocery chains who are already under fire for large hikes in grocery prices that have made it difficult for some people to put food on the table.

The political Bread and Circuses metaphor – the satisfaction of shallow or immediate desires of the populace at the expense of good policy – has never been more relevant. It is the hallmark of the Ford government. The LCBO strike is yet another in the saga of Doug Ford fiascos.

It may well be a dry summer in terms of alcoholic beverages. That development will be one more nail in the coffin of the Ford government as it stumbles over its own attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator of voter interest.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel (now out of print) which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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