A strike by Ontario's liquor-store workers could be disastrous for some businesses in an industry that has weathered one crisis after another over the past five years, says the head of the province's restaurant association.
Restaurants, bars and hotels have been hard hit by SARS, the NHL strike and travel fears that followed the terrrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Terry Mundell, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association.
"We finally get to the stage where business is coming back, people are out and around, tourism numbers are up, and our major supplier of alcohol is about to go on strike," he said.
"People are pretty darn nervous out there, that's for sure."
According to the OHRA, the province's restaurant, pub, bar, tavern and hotel operators buy over $1 million worth of alcohol a day, a figure which accounts for almost 12 per cent of LCBO sales. For the province's more than 17,000 licensed establishments, the prime time for drinking customers comes during the summer months.
"This could cause some layoffs in our industry, and there's no doubt it will cause stress to our employees," Mundell said.
Privatization would mean the province's hospitality industry wouldn't have to be held hostage to the LCBO employees' union, but apparently that didn't occur to Greg Sorbara when he turned thumbs-down to selling the LCBO.
People joke about the liquor store going on strike, but thousands of jobs hang in the balance when you can't get a forty.