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CBC: Ethicist, recovering alcoholic blast Liquor & Lotteries’ sale of cheap booze at downtown store

December 18, 2018 — 

As CBC reports: 

…The amount of sherry sold at the store is staggering — 103,553 bottles were sold from 2015-17, documents obtained through a freedom of information request reveal. Only 378 bottles were sold in the same period at the St. Vital Square Liquor Mart.

“This should be a bright red blinking sign for Manitoba Liquor [& Lotteries] to realize that they are not addressing a serious issue and they need to do so,” said Neil McArthur, director at the Centre for Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba.

“They’re making money off people who have serious health problems. They know that — the statistics tell a clear story — so they are not fulfilling the responsibilities that they have, both morally and that was created by the legislation.” 

As a Crown corporation, Liquor & Lotteries has an ethical obligation to protect people from abuse, especially if it’s profiting off the sale of alcohol, McArthur said.

“I think it’s an incredible revelation,” he said. “People can say, ‘Oh, this is just one case, one store, one product,’ but this should be the revelation that we need to say the programs we have aren’t working. The posters and the billboards aren’t enough and we need a community-based strategy.”

The Downtown BIZ, which gets funding from Liquor & Lotteries for community outreach, has patrols that frequent streets around the store, which they call a “special attention area.”

Often the patrols tell people who are drinking it’s illegal to do so in public and ask them to stop so they don’t have to call the police….

The Liquor Marts have no way of knowing whether someone is a chronic alcoholic, and instead focus on refusing service to people who are intoxicated, she said.

“We don’t have any way of tracking it, and people have the right to purchase products, whether or not it’s harmful to them.”…

McArthur said the chronic alcohol users will be known to people working at the stores, although he doesn’t fault staff.

“They should be able and probably have alerted their superiors that this is happening.”

The sherry sales point to a failed effort by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries to encourage Manitobans to drink responsibly, McArthur said.

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries failed to spend millions of dollars on social responsibility that the corporation is required to spend by law, he pointed out.

In 2015, $869,000 of the legally required social responsibility funding was left unspent, and that amount more than doubled in the past year to $2.1 million, the CBC reported earlier this year.



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