Sask Party looks at privatizing liquor stores
The Opposition Saskatchewan Party said Wednesday that it would consider privatizing the province's liquor stores if it forms a government after the next election.
Opposition leader Elwin Hermanson his government would continue to regulate the industry, but says the retail side would be up for review.
Last week government MLAs placed "Not For Sale" signs in front of liquor stores in Saskatoon and Regina to make sure people know where they stand on the issue.NDP MLA Pat Atkinson says the revenue generated from government-owned liquor stores goes straight into important public programs. "For the government of Alberta, annual government revenues collected before 1993 have not increased," she says, "Whereas in Saskatchewan, with public liquor board stores, we have seen corresponding increases in government revenue."
Hermanson has said he hasn't made a firm commitment either way, saying his choice will be made on what's best for the province, the market and the economy.
"If we believe that alcohol can be marketed through the private sector more effectively and create more jobs, and strengthen the fiscal status of the province so that we can provide better health care and education, we're prepared to make changes. We'll do what's right for Saskatchewan."
Hermanson says NDP allegations that 900 liquor board employees would lose their jobs is ludicrous, though he acknowledges that workers at privatized store might make lower wages.
Atkinson says government-owned liquor stores pay higher wages than their privately-owned counterparts, adding that's another reason to keep them in government hands.