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2 surveys offer opposing views on buying alcohol in Ontario

Two competing surveys released Thursday give opposing views on whether Ontarians think alcohol should be sold at corner stores.

A survey conducted by Pollara Research for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 12R24 — the union representing 7,000 Beer Store and LCBO workers — found 56 per cent of Ontarians believe crime would increase if alcohol sales were opened up to corner stores.

“A great majority of them feel that crime, alcohol abuse [and] drunk driving will worsen if liquor is sold in convenience stores and/or gas bars,” said Robert Edwards, a spokesperson with the Beer Store workers union.

Fifty-eight per cent said alcohol abuse would increase.

The poll was conducted Nov. 13-17, and surveyed 1,008 Ontarians 18 years of age or older. It is accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The same poll also found 66 per cent of Ontarians are opposed to the sale of beer and wine in their local convenience store, while 76 per cent are “satisfied with our current system for selling alcohol.”

However, an Angus Reid poll done for the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) — which represents 11,000 convenience stores across the province —  found 69 per cent of Ontarians polled want to see more private retailers offer competition to the Beer Store.

“This survey reinforces what convenience stores hear from their customers almost daily — people want more choice and convenience in alcohol retailing,” Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA, said in a release.

“And that’s not to mention the jobs that would be created with allowing more competition.”

Seventy-three per cent of those polled said they want to see the LCBO’s Agency Store network expanded.

The convenience store industry employs over 69,000 people and brings in $13 billion in sales annually.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has already made it clear the provincial government has no intention of allowing the wide-open sale of alcohol in corner stores.

Would you buy alcohol in a corner store? Would you want the convenience store on your corner to sell alcohol? Let us know in the comments.