Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If you privatize liquor stores...people will commit suicide

Denise DePape, manager of "healthy living" for the City of Toronto was on talk radio in Saskatchewan claiming that privatizing liquor stores leads to a variety of social calamities including an increased suicide rate.

Denise brings fear mongering to a whole new high water mark, I'm afraid. I thought I'd seen it all when I saw the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union ad campaign that said "who's minding the store is a matter of life and death." The image in the ad was of a late night highway accident with ambulances and police cares all over a deserted highway. The message, of course, was that privatizing liquor stores would lead to more drunk driving.

It appears these people never bother to look at the only Canadian province that has privatized liquor stores -- Alberta. There, liquor-related crimes have remained constant since before privatization. Liquor consumption has gone down and instances of drunk driving has been in steady decline despite (or because of) heavier enforcement.

The argument that privatization leads to more consumption is based on some very shaky statistics gleaned from Scandinavian countries in the 1980's and some flawed research in the United States. The "body of knowledge" around links between privatization and consumption boil down to a few 20-year old studies by a few researchers.

The bottom line is that privatization leads to job creation, better prices and better selection. The icing on the cake is that it saves taxpayer money.


Anonymous said...

"The icing on the cake is that it saves taxpayer money."
Well.... there is no line item in the provincial budget to GIVE money to the LB. They have their own books - I don't drink so I don't really believe that my 'tax money' is given to the Liquor Board.

Anonymous said...


Please government-run liquor - save our children!

Of all the odd-ball arguments unions use to protect their fiefdoms this ones takes the cake!

David - can we assume that suicides have gone up in AB?

Too funny!

-Willard Teeven
Woodstock, ON

David MacLean said...

If you followed the link you would have read the report prepared by the CTF on liquor privatization.

If liquor stores are privatized the government eliminates all its salaries and overhead, yet still takes in the revenue from liquor. If they reduce the provincial markup by 15 per cent to make room for a retail markup without raising the price of liquor, taxpayers save $8 million a year.

Scott Hennig said...

And revenues have gone up in Alberta...

government liquor revenues (pre-privatization)= $402 million

government liquor revenues (this years projection)= $571 million

Plus...number of products available (ie. choice) has increased by over 250%

David MacLean said...

And that's after Alberta cut taxes on alcohol no less than 4 times over the years to keep their commitment that liquor prices would not increase.

Anonymous said...

All fine and dandy, you CTF hacks!

But what about suicides?

Low cost for Sherry and lots of choices of vodka is grrreat (as Tony the Tiger likes to say), but all moot points if suicide increases.

Of course, I am joking here - I assume this is a usuall oddball statement literally from Left-Field.

I'll look at the alcohol report now.


Anonymous said...

In Northern Saskatchewan, alcohol is involved in countless cases of violence, including death, and all other manner of social ills: it is much more dangerous than marijuana, yet governments prosecute marijuana traffickers, and SK heavily subsidizes the sale of alcohol; ie: the gov of Sk ensures that the price of a bottle of wine is the same in La Loche as it is in Regina: whereas unregulated milk will be doube or tripple the price in the North than it is in Regina.
If you accept the fear campaign of the union, then the gov of SK has a lot of blood on its hands for what is going on!

David MacLean said...

Interesting point, anon.

John Murney said...

David, what scientific method (if one was used at all) was used by DePape to reach the conclusion she did? Maybe that is the best place to start deconstructing the argument.
If it was regression analysis, I would like to see how it was done, to see how valid the experiment was.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box