During Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne, it was announced that the Saskatchewan Government will be getting out of the liquor retail business in 2023.
The government plans to close all 34 Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) stores, including one located at the former train station on Manitoba Street in Moose Jaw, by March 31, 2023. According to the government, actual closing dates will vary from store to store.
According to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, it will mean that 400 SLGA employees will be laid off. Discover Moose Jaw learned from the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) the Moose Jaw’s SLGA store employs nine part-time employees and four full-time employees.
The government says profits for SLGA stores in 2018-2019 were $9.4 million and, in 2021-2022, profits declined to $3.2 million. The projected net income for 2022-2023 is $395,000.
"With year over year declines in net revenue at SLGA retail, our government has made the decision to get out of the business of selling liquor," Minister Responsible for SLGA Lori Carr said. "We believe now is the time to complete the transition to the private sector to free up financial resources for other priorities and to mitigate future losses."
Physical assets such as buildings, fixtures and equipment will be sold in a separate process. At the same time, the government will work with SGEU to negotiate a workforce adjustment plan for affected employees.
The store permits will be sold through a public online auction in early 2023 to qualified bidders. More details on the auction are expected next year.
Meanwhile, the government says the SLGA distribution centre will continue to operate as a wholesaler of alcohol.