Toronto

As extended hours at LCBO continue beyond holidays, union calls for more safety measures

The president of the union representing LCBO workers says a recent spike in thefts, and the option for extended retail hours, require more security measures for employees.

Retailers can sell alcohol between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. every day of the week

Warren 'Smokey' Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, is calling on the province to introduce new security measures to better protect LCBO employees. (Jon Castell / CBC News)

The holidays are over, but LCBO retailers still have the option of staying open for extended hours across the province — and around 50 locations will be opting in.

In December, Premier Doug Ford's government extended hours of LCBO stores, the Beer Store and authorized grocery retailers in Ontario, allowing them to sell alcohol between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. seven days a week. 

The change was part of the Progressive Conservatives' modernization laid out in their fall economic outlook.

The recent spike in thefts at various LCBO locations has Warren 'Smokey' Thomas — president of OPSEU — calling for the government to meet and implement further security measures at store locations.

"The LCBO is making some progress, but in my mind, not enough," Thomas said.

Warren 'Smokey' Thomas says Ontarians should be alarmed over media reports on the serious shoplifting problems that regularly occur at LCBO stores. (David Donnelly/CBC)

He said the employees have been brainstorming ideas to create a safer work environment, including an internal security task force. Thomas says he also believes employees should never be in a position where they're working alone. 

"That's been a problem because the LCBO has reduced staffing, we would like to see more staff and security cameras, giving police a chance to go after these people that steal," Thomas said.

Toronto police estimate more than $200,000 worth of goods have been stolen from LCBO locations in the city between August and December of 2018, adding many of the thefts have been taking place in the downtown core.

Thomas says he is calling on Ford to sit down with LCBO management and the union.

"Let's have a roundtable discussion on finding ways to reduce theft while keeping customers and employees safe."

LCBO did not respond to CBC Toronto's request for comment.

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