CUPE sees the irony in the fact that Couche-Tard has hired one of Philippe Couillard’s former advisors to lobby for the sale of marijuana in their stores. In the eyes of the union, this news underlines the absurdity of Premier Couillard’s statement of May 25 that cannabis would not be profitable for the government.
“First, the Premier himself said that the sale of marijuana would hardly be a goldmine for the government. Then, in search of that goldmine, Couche-Tard hired one of Couillard’s former special advisers as a lobbyist. So is it profitable or not?” said Bruno Tremblay, national representative to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents approximately 850 employees of the Quebec liquor board, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ).
CUPE notes that, according to the Institute for Socio-Economic Data and Research (IRIS), if given the mission to sell marijuana in Quebec, the SAQ could generate approximately $500 million in annual fees to the government.
“In addition, we are concerned about the marijuana market falling into the hands of private retailers like Couche-Tard. Every year, surveys show that between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of private businesses in the alcohol market violate the law on sale to minors. The SAQ is much better equipped to control sales and observe public health imperatives, ” said Tremblay.
“In short, we are very concerned about the turn the debate is taking. We hope that the Government of Quebec will hold its consultations with impartiality and openness in order to make the best decision for the health and prosperity of Quebecers,” said the union advisor.
CUPE 3535, the SAQ Workers’ Union, represents approximately 850 employees, including approximately 200 at the Quebec Distribution Centre and 650 at the Montreal Distribution Centre. These employees work in handling and delivery, as well as trades and maintenance.
With more than 110,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents some 3,800 members in government corporations and public agencies. CUPE is also present in the following sectors: health and social services, communications, education, universities, energy, municipalities, air and urban transport, the mixed sector and the maritime sector.