$6 million dollar giveaway to private liquor stores could be better spent on public services

March 24, 2005

The provincial government has quietly handed a $6 million gift to private liquor stores, money that could be better spent on restoring public services that have been cut by the Campbell administration, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) charged today.

"Since the Campbell Liberals came to power, they have encouraged a huge increase in private liquor outlets," said George Heyman, president of the BCGEU. "There are now 1,130 liquor outlets in B.C., an increase of over 100 private liquor stores in the last year alone." "Experts studies show that the proliferation of liquor stores has significant social consequences. Despite that, the government is pushing through more and more of these stores and aggressively adding to their profits by handing them tens of millions of public dollars," he said.

Heyman said a change in the licensee retail store discount rate from 12 to 13 per cent which takes effect April 1 will transfer an additional $6 million to private liquor retailers.

"This is the second time the Campbell Liberals have boosted the profits of private liquor stores in this manner," said Heyman. "Last year, they increased the discount from 10 to 12 per cent, a giveaway of $12 million."

"It means that from now on a minimum of $18 million a year that could be spent on restoring services to people will instead end up in the pockets of private liquor store owners. Instead of improving services for children at risk, or restoring funding for women's centres, or reversing any of the dozens of other cuts to services, the government has chosen to give the money to private liquor stores," he said. "It's a sad commentary on this government's priorities."

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Contact: Chris Bradshaw, BCGEU Communications,

604 473-5454