Privatizing liquor may be costly

The selling of public one-time assets is also a major concern

Re: Privatization should lower liquor costs (Letters, Sept. 14).

The writer makes many suppositions and provides no detail to prove his points.

For starters, I hope he’s not using privatizing B.C. Ferries and the U.S. “trickledown effect” during the Bush area, as his examples of lowering costs. Both policies have been very unsuccessful economically.

Also, I fail to see how a private concern could cut much from delivery costs to liquor outlets unless, of course, they plan to pay minimum wages (the Liberal government has made assurances this will not happen – although they promised the same thing about the HST). However, paying employees a living wage is not a bad thing because they pay significantly more taxes on their income and, paying decent wages provides economic stability and healthier communities.

The selling of public one-time assets is also a major concern as many of the warehouses are on valuable land that could be converted to profitable real estate. The province could just as easily accomplish this transaction with public input instead of a giveaway.

Which brings us to privatizing liquor. There have been several attempts by various B.C. governments to privatize liquor over the past 30 years that have failed due to public pressure.

The main government position has been privatization will allow alcohol to be cheaper and more available. Unfortunately making liquor more available leads to more consumption. A recent provincial study on private liquor stores found that adolescents were able to obtain liquor far more easily from these outlets than from government liquor stores. Reliable research has shown the more availability and lower cost, the more alcohol abuse there is.

Finally, as pointed out by the writer, if taxing and pricing liquor is to be the role of government, and as British Columbians are already paying excessive prices for all legal alcohol products because this provides significant funding (read millions of dollars) to subsidize our health and social programs, how can privatizing possibly translate into lower liquor prices?

I chaired a mayor’s alcohol abuse task force with all relevant provincial departments and non-profit groups for three years, and I can assure you privatizing liquor would provide the worst outcome for our province.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay

 

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