PE: No changes yet to liquor operations, says tourism minister

Ryan Ross
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The Guardian

The P.E.I. liquor commission is looking at ways to maximize revenues while managing expenses.

Liquor Control Commission headquarters in Charlottetown.

[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] — Tourism Minister Robert Henderson said the P.E.I. liquor commission is looking at ways to maximize revenues while managing expenses, but hasn’t made any decisions about hours of operation or staffing levels.

“We have not at this point in time agreed as the department or minister responsible to instruct the commission to implement that,” he said.

Last month, Henderson announced the province will be putting out a request for proposals for six privately run “agency” liquor stores around the province.

That could include Cavendish, which doesn’t have a liquor store during the busy tourist season.

During Friday’s question period, James Aylward said the commission was going to cut 10 full-time equivalents and asked if those cuts would extend to casual workers.

In an interview with The Guardian, Aylward said there are a lot of Islanders who count on their seasonal jobs with the liquor control commission and the opposition heard from many who said they hadn’t received notice of when they would be starting again.

“Typically this is the time of year that they’d be hearing,” he said.

Henderson said the commission will look at sales to determine if there are appropriate staff levels based on the money coming in, along with the hours of operation for different stores.

“It doesn’t mean that the staff may not be working. It’s just that they may not get the same amount of hours,” he said.

That’s why there could be 10 full-time equivalents come out of the system, Henderson said.

“It doesn’t mean that there’s 10 people leaving or that there’s 20 people leaving to equal the 10 full-time equivalents.”

Henderson said the changes would affect casual employees.

“We’re bound by union agreements and some of our employees are classified employees within the liquor control commission so we can’t really look at cutting them back any more than they’ve been guaranteed,” he said.

Whatever does happen, it won’t mean drastic changes, Henderson said.

“It’s just a matter of trying to see where there are efficiencies that can be had.”

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