Protest erupts over government’s plan to sell SLGA stores

The Sask. Party Government has made an announcement that they will be exiting the retail liquor business.

The announcement was previewed in Wednesday’s throne speech and was officially announced on Thursday.

The provincial government is selling Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) stores resulting in hundreds of layoffs.

In light of this, upwards of 100 people apart of several different unions gathered at the Legislative building to protest the government’s decision and the layoffs.

President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Lori Johb spoke at the rally and was calling for a change of government.

“Workers have been mistreated and disrespected long enough and it’s time that we stand up,” says Johb.

“We saw yesterday how easy it was for the Premier and his caucus to slam the hammer down on working people in our province without the respect of even letting the workers know before it hit the media. They fired 400 workers.”

Protesters also heard speeches from several union presidents, Critic for Labour Nicole Sarauer, as well as an SLGA worker.

Shortly after the protest, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Lori Carr talked with the media about the announcement and called it a business decision.

“We have looked at the revenue stream that has been coming in and over the past four years, it’s actually declined approximately 95 per cent. This year we’re expecting that the revenue will be approximately $385,000. Every year it has become less and less and it won’t be long until we’re in a negative position and we’re losing money on our retail stores,” says Carr.

She says the loss of revenue is due to the fact that customers seem to be choosing to buy their liquor from private stores like Sobeys and Co-op.

Even though the province knew the throne speech was coming and there had to have been drafts made leading up to the speech that included the announcement, Carr says that the SFL and workers’ unions weren’t informed ahead of time simply because that’s how the timeline played out and that’s how the provincial government chose to announce it.

A total of 34 SLGA liquor stores will begin closing in January.

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