Missed Opportunities

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  • The proposed format is flawed
    Abolish the NSLC as it presently exists.
    Sell franchises or licenses in a manner similar to Tim Horton’s or Wendy’s or Canadian Tire.Do not permit any entity to own either directly oy indirectly all or in part more than 5 outlets.They would each set their own pay schedules and hire whosoever they chose.Permit liquor wholesalers to import and distribute to the franchisers and maintain their own distribution center(s) and set their own prices.
    The appearance of the outlets would be maintained in the same manner as individual restaurants or shoe stores or bars are now..If you don’t maintain them and offer service they go out of business.If I don’t like the selection offered at one outlet I can go to another.Drug stores operate like this.
    The government would have to establish a Board to award franchises and set qualifications–financial stability,criminal checks.and and a method for revoking the same.Hire somebody from Horton’s–they seem to know what they are doing.
    There are other details necessary to refine this concept,but if the goal is to remove the monopoly of the government and reduce prices this is a blueprint.
    If the goal is to continue excessive prices and provide overpaid jobs and provide the gov’t with excessive profits then continue on the present path
    Why are we paying top dollar for people who in the words of another contributor are “shelf stockers” They require no more skills than the MacDonald’s staff for example.They receive their present rate of pay because government cannot/will not bargain in the interests of the true owners–the taxpayer.
    Certainly choice may be limited in smaller areas==I don’t see a Sobey’s or Superstore in the middle of the Wentworth Valley or Musquodoboit.Bur those people do go to the “big city” on occasion to “stock up”
    Do you not think that bars get”kickbacks” now–did you never meet a liquor agent.That is their job.

    Bill F | March 7, 2012 | Reply

  • Bill, your dogma has overriden any common sense. What you are suggesting would result in a few things happening which you overlook, even presuming that a large retailer would be willing to accept your terms, which I rather doubt. Under those terms the only way they can make money is to run a bare-bones operation or to raise prices.

    NSLC has minimal useful real estate to sell off, so there is no real value there. Under your terms the buyer can only make a profit if they reduce operating expenses. They would need to allocate space for a warehousing operation and manage the logistics – but they already do that, so that is the easy part. The hard part is that they would throw out 1000-1500 people from “living wage” jobs and replace then with a small number of shelf-stockers making minimum wage and minimal benefits. What is the impact of that on the economy? Is that a good public policy choice?

    Then they would apply their retail formula to the operation. The NSLC has stores in small towns that they would need to immediately close. That selection gets replaced with agency stores with a much smaller selection. Too bad if you live in one of those places. If they follow their grocery model those outlets would have higher prices as well. They would then apply their typical big-box merchandising techniques to the remainder of the outlets. What you get is no service, no displays, a lousy assortment of products, and a warehouse-style operation. Need help? Forget it. Staff are untrained and do not provide service to customers. They would depend upon their market dominance to force whatever they offer onto customers.

    Of course, it would be a popular move among bars and restaurants, who would solicit kickbacks from the retailer. That cost would get passed along to the retail customer of course. The large suppliers would be forced to buy shelf space as the grocery suppliers now are forced to do as well. That also gets passed along in the retail price. The small suppliers get squeezed out and their products disappear from the shelves. And of course our local producers would get no shelf space or promotion whatsoever.

    So what you have created is a far worse system that gives no benefit whatsoever to the government, throws a bunch of people onto the unemployment line, reduces service and selection, introduces corrupt business practices, and wipes out much of our local industry, all in the name of ideology. A very poor trade in my view.

    A private monopoly is even worse than a public monopoly. Ever hear of NS Power?

    Keith | March 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Keith thank you for your posting.

      I should have stressed that the sales would be one retail outlet at a time. So we are eliminating a monopoly, not creating one. I did say and would repeat that existing workers should have their wages and benefits protected.

      In this format we would find out quickly enough if you are right after the first dozen or so retail outlet stores. If so then the program should stop.

      But I expect that good retailers such as Sobey’s, Superstore and others will create a very competitive atmosphere which will serve customers well. You are right that there may not be much interest in smaller stores in rural locations. If so then NSLC should keep them. Outlets should only be sold if the province is getting a substantial price, so nobody will buy just to close them.


      Bill | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • The time will come when austerity requires, that whatever government is in place, must recognize that the only way to deal with the debt that we will be faced with, is to sell off its altogether too many assets. Just where the NSLC will be on that list, remains to be seen. Land and buildings may come first.

    gordon stanfield | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • Ben.:
    We just have a philosophical difference.
    I believe that the gov’t should only provide essential services and do so at the least cost to all taxpayers.The gov’t set the minimum wage and should not interfere in the marketplace to magnify or vary it.
    If the job can be filled at less cost by the Eer then they have an obligation to do so.I am a “shareholder” in this Province and expect it to be run like a business not a charitable institution.There are other agencies,within and out of government to provide assistance,which are paid for in part by private companies.
    Gov’t has a very poor record when it enters the business forum–there is no sense of ownership.
    It should regulate,participate but not operate.

    Bill L | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • No need to tender it out….just open it up to the free market the same way that cigarettes are sold. The problem is that the private world gets to then profit from the retail end of things and we as tax payers miss out on that revenue. There is no doubt that a private company would be leaner than NSLC but I think that NS has enough minimum wage jobs. NSLC is a very profitable crown corporation and I see no reason to sell it.

    Ben | March 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Thank you all for your comments. I should have stressed that no monopoly is intended or would occur. The retail outlets would be sold one at a time, starting with the high volume ones. Some of the smaller stores may well end up continuing with NSLC


      Bill | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • It is already a monopoly,and a most inefficent and costly one at that.Nova Scotians are paying up to 100% more than in other jurisdictions for an identical product.
    I would’nt propose selling it to one vendor–put it up for tender,district by district,no one vendor to own or control more than 5 (?) outlets or serve more than 20000 people or some acceptable combo.
    They would buy direct from producers and set their own retail price
    This WILL lower prices’ to the benefit of the consumer and hopefully force the Gov’t to spend less as they will have less.Not that that really seems to matter.
    We are being gouged under the present system.

    Bill L | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • I’m going to have to side with Ben on this one Bill. I’m not opposed to the notion of privatization but absolutely not another monopoly. I think that’s the main problem with NSPI. They (like any publicly traded company) are focused on delivering value to their shareholders. Of course I don’t have a problem with that, the issue I have is that they have no competition so really they can just about set their rates as high as they want; we have no choice but to pay them if we want heat and lights.

    I don’t see Sobeys or Loblaws operating any differently? In fact they could see this as a cash cow if they had a monopoly as they certainly don’t in the grocery business. You think food is expensive now, imagine if one of these companies had a monopoly…look out!

    Neccessities like power and wine should have healthy competition so the consumer has choice and can benefit from the cost reductions associated with competition.

    Sean Haire | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • But why purposely create a monopoly? Explain how that will benefit Nova Scotians.

    Ben | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • Comparisons with NSPC are not relevant.The NSPC is extremely capital intensive,NSLC requires minimal capital,If NSLC were to obtain the same return on it’s capital as NSPC the price would drop substantially.
    Additionally the NSPC has been required to spend $millions to satisfy the race to green energy.This must be paid for by us.
    The only reason the NDP (or maybe any.gov’t) won’t privitize is that it would eliminate jobs and reduce salaries both labor and management..
    That is what the recent amendmments to the labor legislation was all about.

    Bill | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • Selling the NSLC to 1 company is insane. Monopolies are not healthy for anyone but that company. If the NDP wants to offload the NSLC the must decentralize it like NL or QC. Selling the NSLC to Sobeys, for example, would be a ridiculous idea and completely irresponsible to even suggest. Prices would go up causing demand to go down. This would diminish profits from the disty side and cause the average Nova Scotian more at the check out. NO MORE MONOPOLIES IN NS UNLESS GOV OWNED.

    Ben | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • I agree with what you say here–it is common sense. It is doable, and the public would support it. It’s also significant real thinking which is seem to be ever less in today’s public square.

    Rob Smith | March 6, 2012 | Reply

  • I still think that selling the NSLC is very short-sighted. We made similar arguments when discussing the sales of NS Power. If the NSLC wants to expand I suggest they continue opening agent stores. Any community more than 5 km form an NSLC should be permitted to bid for an agent store.

    Ben | March 6, 2012 | Reply