Ontario Gov’t Rolls Out Map Showing Liquor Alternatives as Strike Continues

Ontario Gov’t Rolls Out Map Showing Liquor Alternatives as Strike Continues
Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a news conference at Bramalea GO Station, in Brampton, on May 11, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
Jennifer Cowan
The Ontario government has launched an online tool to help consumers find  neighbourhood alternatives to strike-bound LCBO stores.
Three days after the strike that closed hundreds of LCBO stores across the province, the premier announced the new searchable online map via social media July 8, saying the historic walkout involving more than 9,000 LCBO workers needn’t keep Ontarians from their favourite alcoholic beverages, including those from Ontario producers.
“Even though LCBO workers are on strike, there’s still plenty of options for you to buy beer, wine, cider, coolers, and even spirits, including products made right here in Ontario,” Mr. Ford said in the video, in which he serves up burgers hot off the grill alongside an array of Ontario-made alcoholic beverages.
The premier is shown scrolling through the interactive map, which lists locations licensed to sell alcohol, including LCBO Convenience Outlets. By entering a town or postal code and filtering for beverage of choice, the user sees a map populated with location dots, yellow ones showing Ontario-made products.

The move was praised by business groups, but criticized by labour and opposition critics.

“The strike will undoubtedly speed up the public’s shift to private alcohol retail and create an appetite for more,” Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation Of Independent Business, said in an online post on July 8, while sharing a link to the tool.
Ontario Federation of Labour president Laura Walton said launching the tool amounts to using tax dollar to cross “picket lines.”
Liberal MPP Adil Shamji was also critical of the government launching the tool. 
“It makes me furious that [Mr. Ford] can publish an interactive map to find beer after just one weekend but he won’t do the same thing to help any of the 2.3 million Ontarians who can’t find a family doctor,” he wrote on X.
The map’s launch comes three days after LCBO workers walked off the job July 5, the first strike in the board’s history, after talks between the government-owned agency and the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) broke down.
The main concern, the union said, is the government’s decision to allow the sale of coolers and other ready-to-drink beverages in convenience, grocery, and big box stores.
The union is accusing the government of allowing profits that traditionally went to the LCBO to be given to corporations and private owners.
Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s office said last week that the province is “more committed than ever” to expanding access to beer, cider, wine, and ready-to-drink beverages in convenience, grocery, and big-box stores “starting later this summer.”
The strike is expected to last for at least two weeks, the LCBO said in a July 5 press release. If it goes past the 14-day mark, the province will open 32 LCBO retail stores for in-store shopping Friday through Sunday with limited hours in effect.