Manitoba Liberal Leader Needs to Take Closer Look at Privatization
Aug 05, 2015
Today, Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari held a press conference and stated that a prospective Liberal provincial government would look at making “substantial changes” in the way alcohol is sold in Manitoba, including potentially privatizing Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. Bokhari also said that her party will conduct a thorough review of how other jurisdictions handle liquor sales and distribution, and will be consulting Manitobans before presenting a final plan.
Hopefully her review will be thorough, because if it is, she will see – as many recent studies of liquor privatization in other provinces have demonstrated time and again - the public liquor model is superior. Not only are prices cheaper in publicly-owned agencies, but they are also better suited to safely handle the sale of alcohol to the public.
Studies of privatization in Alberta have
shown that privatization has led to higher prices (small businesses are being
bought out by large corporations that charge more), a decrease in consumer
choice (specialty products that don’t sell in high volumes don’t get shelf
space), and an increase in social and policing costs (sales first, safety
later). See, for example, David Campanella and Greg Flanagan’s study: The economic and social consequences of liquor privatization in Western Canada.
Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) maintain that public systems are preferred over private ones for reasons of public health and safety. They do a better job of keeping alcohol out of minors’ hands. Public liquor authorities provide resources for awareness campaigns about the negative health consequences of alcohol overconsumption, and for addictions treatment programs.
It is also important to remember that public liquor systems generate large amounts of revenue for health care and other public services that families rely on.
For all these reasons, it is puzzling that the Manitoba Liberal Leader has decided to open the door to privatizing our successful public liquor system.
This isn’t a road Manitobans want to go
down and I will be requesting a meeting with Ms Bokhari to ensure she has all
of the facts about privatization.
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