SOS Crowns is very disappointed today with the government’s decision to further stifle the growth of our Crown Corporations, while allowing more opportunity for private companies.
Less than two weeks ago, Premier Wall hinted that the government was considering privatizing any new liquor stores. As the population in the province continues to grow, so to has the demand for access to liquor stores. Currently, the Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority (SLGA) has 79 SLGA locations as well as 188 rural franchises. Most locations are open six days per week, with some locations also open on Sunday.
In a recent blog post we explained the many benefits the province receives from having a Crown Corporation responsible for liquor sales and distribution. With more than $1-billion in revenue, SLGA is able to contribute to the province through dividends as well as many social responsibility initiatives including support for over 3200 volunteer groups and charitable organizations with over $6.3-million through their charitable gaming grant program.
Last week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Parkland Institute released a new report, “Impaired Judgement: The Economic and Social Consequences of Liquor Privatization in Western Canada,” suggesting that Saskatchewan should stay away from privatizing liquor stores.
One of the most common arguments for liquor privatization is the promise of increased competition lowering prices – a common argument for many types of privatization. At news conference, report co-author David Campanella explained their research actually showed otherwise. For nearly every product considered, the lowest prices were actually offered at publicly-owned liquor stores in Saskatchewan or British Columbia.
Compared to our current SLGA stores, new private liquor stores will be able to:
Sell any products they choose, even if carried in SLGA stores Receive a 16 per cent discount on all alcohol products they purchase from SLGA for resale Set their own prices Offer home delivery Sell a selection on non-alcohol items Ability to have longer operating hours than SLGA stores Ability to include chilled beer rooms
Not only is the government going to allow multiple private liquor stores to set up shop, but they are also committing to giving these private stores some major help in terms of competition with SLGA locations. This is another good example of the effects of the ideological Sask First Policy that restricts the growth of Crown Corporations in Saskatchewan in any area that conflicts with the interests of private business.
The premier asked if taxpayers should be paying to invest in building more liquor stores “when we need to invest in health care, education and highways “...shouldn’t the people of Saskatchewan be able to have both?
After seeing the benefits of $1-billion of revenue that is shared throughout the province, why would it make business sense to hand the revenue over to a private company?
To read the full report “Impaired Judgement: The Economic and Social Consequences of Liquor Privatization in Western Canada,” click here.
To read the government's news release, click here.
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