OCSA Convenience Connect: 2016 Vol. I

Published: Mon, 02/08/16

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Convenience Connect: 2016 Vol. I
Included in this newsletter you will find...
  • OCSA speaks to Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
  • New E-Cigarette signage requirements
  • The OPP's new anti-contraband task force, The Race Is On and more...
Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association had the privilege to present in front of the Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this week. OCSA President Dave Bryans took the opportunity to advocate for members in three particular areas.
Beer and Wine
It is encouraging to see that the government has taken a proactive approach to opening up the beverage alcohol retail system, but we're disappointed that, of the 150 first licenses issued, none were to convenience stores.

We were similarly disappointed to hear the Premier's recent "not on my watch" comment at a media event in Niagara and the sentiment that it brings. Numerous third party studies have demonstrated that ours are highly dependable businesses when it comes to restricting access to adult products.

We hope that, in future rounds of licensing, our industry will be considered and we welcome an opportunity to reengage with Ed Clark and the government on this topic. 
Illegal Tobacco/Youth Smoking/Age Verification
Our industry, the largest retailer of legal tobacco products in the province, was encouraged by the government's inclusion of anti-illicit tobacco measures in the 2015 budget and are pleased to hear about new enforcement measures. The abundance of illegal tobacco, however, remains higher than any other province in Canada.

The answer to solving Ontario's deficit cannot come at the price of yet another tobacco tax increase. This, as polls have shown, would only encourage customers to seek cheaper products on the illegal  market.

With regard to youth consumption of tobacco, we encourage stricter laws surrounding the purchasing and possession of tobacco by underage individuals. We cannot continue to normalize this behavior and should police it as we do alcohol.

Finally, we would like to request funding to certify and further train every employee to handle tobacco. Similarly to Smart Serve, we could train over 69,000 provincial employees, including many new Canadians on age testing.
Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
It was announced recently that the low income threshold for the ORPP will be $3,500. In order to prevent a substantial strain on our small businesses, we would like to formally recommend that this figure be adjusted to $20,000. This would allow our members to contribute to the program while allowing them to retain staff and stay profitable.

Current estimates suggest that the ORPP could end up costing Ontario 6,000 jobs from our sector (that's one employee per store). Our hope is that this $3,500 threshold can be revisted and special consideration given to small businesses that remain a vital part of this economy.
OPP Unveils Anti-Contraband Task Force
The Ontario Provincial Police have recently announced the creation of a new Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team. The Ontario Convenience Stores Association is pleased to see the government taking steps to address an issue that has hurt the bottom lines of small businesses and government revenue.

The new task force will work within the OPP's Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau and will focus on investigating the trafficking and smuggling of contraband tobacco in the province.
In 2015, Ontario's contraband tobacco rate sat at 25% with some locations having rates as high as 48%
As of this year, anyone selling e-cigarettes or vapour products must A) age test anyone who appears to be under 25 years old, and B) refuse sale to anyone under 19 years old. Please ensure that all employees are aware of this policy.

Any store selling e-cigarettes or vapour products will be required to install a new sign to comply with new provincial laws (see link below). Signage must be at each cash area with a larger sign on the back sales area for selling tobacco.
Race Is On Gala Tickets Now Available
Join us next month for our annual  Race Is On gala to celebrate and network with our industry. Celebrated PR educator Dr. Terry Flynn will be our guest speaker for the evening bringing key insights on managing risks and reputations in our line of work.
There's a reason that the CCSA's We Expect ID campaign has been a success since its inception. On Jan. 18, stores across the country celebrated the program.
Did you know that Canadian convenience stores employ over 26,000 people, serving as many as 10 million customers every single day? Together we've established small business owners as the most responsible retailers of age-restricted products.
It's that time of year again. The Convenience U CARWACS Show is returning to Toronto. Use the coupon code 'OCSA' to get in at no charge.
March 8-9, 2016
The International Centre
Toronto, Ontario 
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