As 2018 comes to a close, I am proud of the many files the OCSA has worked through on behalf of all our members. The OCSA is appreciative of the support we have received from association members, board members, members of the Ontario government, not to mention manufacturer trade and retail associations. We will continue to work with MPPs and all levels of government to instill confidence in the convenience store channel and how we manage ourselves while working towards a better future for all the hard-working families. Keep in mind the OCSA does not just represent large chains but works for the independents and regional groups on all issues.
In 2019; we will represent over 6,500 family-run stores in Ontario while defining your needs and we will focus on ensuring that you are first in line to receive consideration to sell beer/wine, as per Premier Doug Ford’s commitment to small family-run stores. There isn’t a file that we will ignore from hydro costs to labour costs, employee safety, employee training, gaming, vaping, sugar issues, sodium issues, gas drive offs, cannabis and contraband tobacco.
The OCSA has partnered with Crime Stoppers to work together on employee safety, illegal tobacco issues and drive offs, ensuring that those affected have anonymity to report any crimes in their neighborhoods.
A great example of the OCSA working alongside the government for the betterment of small business is the Ministry of Finance agreeing to not raise Ontario tobacco taxes another $4.00 a carton in 2019, as was mandated by the last government, until we can work on correcting or minimizing contraband tobacco. Hopefully the Federal government and the manufacturers will also freeze price increases and/or tax increases to also be part of this solution.
Under the new vaping laws, the OCSA has negotiated your rights to promote new vape offerings to your customers through information, signage and customer engagement and we will continue to defend our rights to offer consumers a full line of new and innovative vaping products as the tobacco category continues to shift to perceived safer alternatives.
The OCSA has a strong track record of representing the interests of all products at the government level ensuring that we defend our rights to promote, display and sell any/all legal products in our channel. Independent operators are the key to the future in Ontario as they own their businesses and will encourage this government to favour them as we move into future categories like beer and wine.
Today I want to thank all retailers for their ongoing perseverance of zero tolerance age testing where we now pass under the government’s underage mystery shop program at 95.7% making us the most trusted retailer in every community. The OCSA will continue to bring you programs that protect your businesses in 2019. My experience has demonstrated over the years that our strong regional association has the respect of this new administration and we have been invited to the table on all issues affecting the convenience store channel and this will continue throughout 2019.
We have met with new MPPs, Chiefs of Staff, Senior Policy Advisors, Ministers and the Premier on several occasions highlighting the strength of the hard-working families and will continue to update you as we go forward.
The 2019 OCSA Board is made up of regional chains and family-run independents who will spend time at Queen’s Park highlighting our ability to work with the Ford administration while securing a better future for all family-run stores in Ontario.
I want to thank everyone for their continued support knowing that we are passionate about our mission and wish each of you and your families a happy holiday season and a prosperous and healthy 2019.
Dave Bryans CEO