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Ford to hold 1st news conference since LCBO strike began

  • Ford’s news conference has been delayed by about 15 minutes, per reporters at the event

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday as a strike by LCBO workers drags into its sixth day. 

Ford is set to be joined by Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy at the 10:15 a.m. ET appearance in Toronto. 

You’ll be able to watch live in this story.

The ongoing labour strife with LCBO employees shows few signs of ending any time soon. Some 9,000 workers walked off the job last Friday after negotiations for a new collective agreement fell apart.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents the workers, says that Ford’s plan to vastly expand where alcohol can be sold in the province is an existential threat to the LCBO. 

Beginning later this summer, retailers like grocery, big box and convenience stores will be able to sell beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink cocktails such as hard seltzers with up to 7.1 per cent alcohol content. 

OPSEU argues the expansion threatens the viability of the LCBO as a retailer and will lead to mass layoffs at the 97-year-old Crown corporation. The LCBO currently generates a roughly $2.5 billion annual revenue dividend for the province, a substantial portion of which is spent on key public services like health care and education.

Bethlenfalvy said this week the government is “more committed than ever” to its plan to modernize Ontario’s alcohol market. In social media messaging, Ford and his MPPs have attempted to paint the ongoing strike as opportunity for consumers to seek out local, Ontario-made products like craft beer and ciders.

On Monday, Ford rolled out an interactive online map to help consumers find booze retailers in their area.

Meanwhile, OPSEU members have been picketing at LCBO distribution warehouses in an attempt to disrupt deliveries of online alcohol sales.

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