Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Merger surprises employees

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It's called the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation and under the NDP's new budget it will be the province's newest Crown corporation.

The merger of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission and Manitoba Lotteries had been in the works for weeks, but only became public when Finance Minister Stan Struthers introduced the provincial budget Tuesday.

It sent shock waves through both Crown corporations -- many of the 3,100 employees of both Crowns learned of it through a memo written by Winston Hodgins, president and CEO of Manitoba Lotteries, who has been recruited to oversee what he describes as an "exciting transition."

"It's a surprise," longtime MLCC spokeswoman Diana Soroka said.

Dave Chomiak, the minister responsible for gaming, said the merger of the two profitable Crowns was approved during the pre-budget process as a way to show Manitobans the NDP is earnest in controlling costs.

"We realized that these two corporations had similar types of activities and some similar functions," Chomiak said. "We thought it would make sense to merge these two together and show that we meant it when we said we looking at government expenditures..."

The process will take almost a year to conclude and start after an independent consultant, yet to be hired, reviews the inner workings of both corporations.

The province will also introduce legislation this session to set the merger ball in motion.

"We're not anticipating laying off workers," he said. "What we're looking for is to be able to reduce costs at the administrative end and to look at one less board to pay for."

Each Crown corporation in Manitoba has a provincially appointed board.

The province also sees savings at the managerial and administrative levels.

Chomiak said changes will be made to the Gaming Control Act as liquor regulation, like licensing, will be transferred to the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission.

"We're going to have less at the top end and more efficiencies in the system," he said.

The liquor commission has about 1,200 full and part-time employees and Manitoba Lotteries employs about 1,900 people at its two casinos and its head office at 830 Empress St.

The letter says...

'Legislative changes will be made to produce a new act for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation. A professional consulting firm will be hired to assist in the amalgamation of both organizations. The consultant's review will include recommendations on an implementation plan for the amalgamation. Therefore, both Manitoba Lotteries and MLCC will continue to operate as they currently do today, until that process is completed. It is expected that administrative efficiencies will be achieved with no job losses for front-line employees. As well, a new labour management committee will be created to help ensure a smooth transition to the new organization.'


-- Winston Hodgins, president & CEO of Manitoba Lotteries in memo to all staff of Manitoba Lotteries and the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2012 A5

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