New legislation opening door to private specialty liquor warehousing in Sask.
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government has passed legislation that will allow for private specialty liquor warehousing and distribution, a business the government had previously been profiting from exclusively.
Liquor stores and restaurants in the province offer hundreds of different brands to customers and what isn’t stocked can be special ordered through the government’s central liquor warehouse in Regina.
The special orders represent about 5 per cent of all Saskatchewan liquor sales.
“We’re proposing if anyone’s interested to set up a business here in our province and hopefully create jobs here in our province,” said Gene Makowsky, the minister in charge of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
This week, the government passed a bill in the legislature allowing private companies to take over the $20 million annual business, but the NDP says a clause could allow private companies to assume the remainder of the government’s $400 million liquor wholesaling business in the future.
"The legislation is quite clear that it does apply to all beverage alcohol, we’re very concerned about the privatization of SLGA,” said Nicole Sarauer, an NDP MLA.
The government says that’s not the intention, but still the union representing SLGA workers is concerned.
“The government spent a lot of money on a state of the art distribution centre at the Hub which is already having its own issues,” said Sharon Friess with SGEU.
The province intends to protect its bottom line by retaining the full mark up on specialty liquor products sold wholesale.
The private warehouses will have to find their own source of revenue.