This preconceived idea is based on some of the ways provinces get judged. Good roads, mountains and cheap booze count for a lot when Canadians rate the best places to live.
Unfortunately, Saskatchewan has looked west for many years then looked back at itself somewhat shamefully. What hasn’t helped is that some of our own are trying to make us think we should be more like our next-door neighbour.
I won’t name names, but there’s a group of people in Regina who have been misleading us. They have offices in a massive stone building with a large dome that commands a view of Wascana Lake. Ironically, they work for us, but often do things that aren’t in our best interest.
One such example is how they’re saying we need to have Alberta-style liquor franchises. This, they say, would give us more choice and lower prices.
If they don’t know that liquor is more expensive in Alberta it’s probably because they didn’t bother to conduct a feasibility study.
Let’s not pretend this is a simple case of, “Oops, we forgot.” No, this is to cover themselves a few years from now. If privatization goes through, liquor prices will be shockingly higher in Saskatchewan. Without the study, the people, who shall remain nameless, will be able to conveniently say, “Gee, we didn’t know this was gonna happen.”
Also, a feasibility study would be a nuisance because Saskatchewan’s residents already know that everything is cheaper in Alberta. We might get upset if we learned otherwise. Nothing makes me angry like saving money.
To separate truth from politics, I conducted a feasibility study of my own. The process was simple. I chose six of the most popular alcohol products on the market and compared the price they sell for in Saskatchewan’s publicly-owned liquor stores to three private vendors in Medicine Hat.
The prices in this graph include all the taxes and the deposit. This is what you’d pay at the till. There are two products each for beer, wine and spirits.
Math doesn’t lie. These numbers show beer is quite a bit more expensive in Medicine Hat — as much as $12.60 for the exact same 24-pack, an increase of 25 per cent.
Wine drinkers will pay more in Alberta, in most cases. Looking at the Yellow Tail, we see it’s slightly more expensive at The Liquor Barn, but cheaper at Aberdeen Spirits located in the Southeast Hill neighbourhood. Southridge Liquor doesn’t carry the Yellow Tail chardonnay, but they sell the cabernet sauvignon and I listed it here to compare their prices as best as possible.
The Royal Red wine was $4.98 to $8.43 more in Medicine Hat, which translates to 24 to 38 per cent higher prices.
Whisky drinkers get the best deal in Riderville. However, vodka drinkers do save some money in Medicine Hat, but nowhere near enough to pay the gas to drive there.
A 40-ounce bottle of vodka in Saskatchewan is $1.02 more than Aberdeen Spirits or an extra $1.98 compared to The Liquor Barn. This translates to an additional two and a half to five per cent.
As we see here, alcohol is more expensive in Alberta and sometimes quite a bit more. That being said, some products are cheaper there, but when they are the price doesn’t outshine Saskatchewan by very much. Saskatchewan’s prices are very competitive and they come with the added bonus of keeping the revenue in our province and providing good jobs to our community members.
If the people in Regina get their way and privatize liquor sales, the real winners will be large business entities in Alberta who want to expand their model into our province. Big business sees an untapped market here. The people who work for us have been on a privatization spree and are only too happy to sell a resource that doesn’t belong to them. They’re supposed to manage it for all of us.
If Alberta’s model becomes Saskatchewan’s, we will pay more for alcohol — bottom line.
What was I saying earlier on about our government doing things that aren’t in our best interest … Oops, I said I wasn’t going to name names.
Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more information about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit www.canoetoneworleans.com.