The decision by the Liberal government to explore the possible privatization of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) a few months prior to the election is not only vote-pandering but extremely ill-advised.

“How many studies does it take to put an end to this ridiculous debate? The SAQ is a Quebec jewel that we must protect at all costs!” said Denis Bolduc, the president of CUPE Quebec.  “Whether the issue is price, product selection or public health considerations, study after study has shown that the public model is better than the private model.”

Recent study provides support

A recent study by IRIS, which compared, among others, the Quebec model to Alberta’s privatized model, showed that the SAQ offered better prices, a greater selection and, unlike the privatized model, made for regional equity in terms of price. In other words, wherever a bottle is sold, be it in major cities or more isolated municipalities, it will cost the same.

“All of this is aside from dividends of almost $1.1 billion that Quebec collects to put toward the construction of schools and hospitals,” said CUPE researcher Mathieu Vick. “It’s clear that privatizing SAQ would result in major cuts to health care, education and other public services.”