Location of province’s secret cannabis warehouse revealed

The location of the secret warehouse holding Ontario’s legal cannabis is a secret no more. Shauna Hunt with how it was outed, and how the mayor of the town it is in had no idea it was even operating in his own backyard.

Video source CityNews Toronto

Union leader outs location of secret Ontario cannabis warehouse

Angered that police were called ‘to stop’ recruitment, releases address of Ontario’s high-security storage location

By Vanmala Subramaniam

The head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has apparently revealed the secret location of the Ontario Cannabis Store warehouse — as well as the identity of the private company operating it — following an incident in which he claims police were called on a union representative who was at the site.

In a press release Tuesday, OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the Ford government had called Halton Regional Police to a “privately operated cannabis warehouse” on Plymouth Drive in Oakville, Ont., in order to stop workers at the warehouse from talking to an OPSEU representative.

“Calling in officers from Halton Regional Police to stop OPSEU from talking to these workers is not only a complete waste of police resources, it also violates their right to join a union,” Thomas said. “This isn’t a security issue. Our staff have a right to be there.”

The union leader said he was tipped off about the location of the cannabis warehouse from a newspaper reporter, and after some digging confirmed that it was indeed the location in Oakville. “We went by and knocked on the door and started talking to some workers about a union. We want to get them in the union one way or another,” he said.

Thomas estimated — but could not confirm — that approximately 100 people were employed at the warehouse.

“For me this is not just about getting more OPSEU members. There’s so much money in the cannabis world and these workers should be paid a living wage, with benefits and a pension,” Thomas said.

Simon Jefferies, director of media relations at the Premier’s office, called OPSEU’s allegation that Ford had called the police on union workers a “complete lie.”

Halton Regional Police could not be reached to confirm the incident.

Thomas says his organization “100 per cent” confirmed the location was indeed the OCS warehouse after a visit to the site, where union representatives spoke to a “number of workers.”

“Some of them said they want to unionize,” he added.

The provincial government has deliberately kept the location of the Ontario Cannabis Store warehouse under wraps, citing security reasons. Currently, the OCS online store is the only place Ontarians can purchase cannabis for recreational use. All licensed producers with supply agreements with the province send their product to an OCS warehouse, before the provincial retailer puts them up for sale.

OCS Director of Communications Daffyd Roderick would not confirm if the address on the OPSEU press release was indeed the location of the OCS warehouse.

“Details of the distribution centre are undisclosed for security reasons and will not be publicly announced or confirmed. The OCS does not disclose security details as a matter of policy,” he said in an emailed statement to the Financial Post.

The OPSEU statement also named Domain Logistics as the contractor running the private cannabis warehouse. Calls to Domain Logistics were not returned by press time.

Article source Financial Post

Union reveals location of secret cannabis warehouse, claims province blocked sign up drive

OPSEU says it has the right to represent employees at the secret OCS warehouse

By Nick Boisvert · CBC News

The head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says the provincial government is trying to prevent workers from unionizing at the Ontario Cannabis Store warehouse.

The union also claims to have discovered the location of the warehouse, which had been kept secret by the OCS due to security concerns.

Warren ‘Smokey’ Thomas, OPSEU president, says labour organizers went to the Oakville warehouse late last year after receiving a tip about its location.

After confirming the tip was accurate, OPSEU attempted to host a sign-up drive and to talk to warehouse employees about unionizing, but Thomas says police were quickly called in to disrupt the organizing attempts. He estimates that around 100 to 200 people work at the warehouse.

“Calling in officers from Halton regional police to stop OPSEU from talking to these workers is not only a complete waste of police resources, it also violates their right to join a union,” Thomas said.

Thomas says one of the organizers was later visited by police at his home on Jan. 6, which Thomas alleges is evidence that “there had to be some kind of intervention from the government here.

“Workers have a right in the Constitution of Canada to freedom of association, and that encompasses joining a union,” he said.

In a brief statement to CBC Toronto, Simon Jefferies, spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford’s office, said Thomas’ suggestion amounts to a “complete lie from OPSEU.”

Thomas challenges that denial, pointing to allegations that Ford may have influenced the appointment of his longtime family friend, Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, to lead the OPP last year. Ford has repeatedly denied any involvement in the hiring process, however.

Halton police confirm they were called to the warehouse address listed by OPSEU on Dec. 12 due to reports of an “anomalous package” and a “suspicious vehicle” in the area.

“Investigation of the package and vehicle led police to two males who were identified as members of OPSEU,” said Const. Ryan Anderson. “In the course of the investigation, at no time, did police direct any persons to cease contact with employees of the distribution centre.”

Police would not confirm if they went to the home of one of the OPSEU members in January. Anderson said no charges have been laid in the investigation.

OPSEU claims right to represent workers
OPSEU also claims the PCs are not honouring an agreement with the LCBO and the previous Liberal government that would have given the union representation rights to OCS employees.

Thomas said he has not yet formally met with Ford since the new government took office, and that the LCBO, which oversees the OCS, no longer returns calls from the union.

“Our position, still, is that we represent workers at this warehouse, but the LCBO would never tell us where the warehouse was,” Thomas said.

An OCS spokesperson said he would not confirm the location of the warehouse due to policy.

“Details of the OCS distribution centre are undisclosed for security reasons and will not be publicly announced or confirmed,” wrote director of communications Daffyd Roderick.

Domain Logistics, which OPSEU claims is the operator of the warehouse, did not respond to calls from CBC Toronto.

Its website describes the company as “a Toronto-based third party logistics provider, specializing in supply chain solutions for complex, fast-moving businesses in Canada.”

Article source CBC News

Is Ontario’s once-secret pot warehouse just too small?

By Patrick Cain

WATCH: Ontario’s Ford government may face a lawsuit over cannabis labour contract with OPSEU

Ontario’s cannabis warehouse is almost exactly the same size as B.C.’s, despite having to serve three times the population, Global News has learned.

All recreational cannabis legally sold in the province must move in and out of the facility, which is located in an industrial park in Oakville.

The government-owned Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation has tried to keep the facility’s location secret.

However, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union published its address in press releases in late December and also this week.

OPSEU says it identified the facility through surveillance conducted by private investigators the union had hired, as well as through visits made by union organizers. Global News has confirmed the facility’s location independently through our own visits to the site.

(OPSEU takes the position that people working at the distribution centre ought to be union members under a deal between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and its union in 2017.)

The OCRC, which operates the customer-facing Ontario Cannabis Store, has said nothing at all about the Oakville distribution facility other than to acknowledge that it exists.

WATCH: Security breach at Ontario Cannabis Store exposes customer data

BC Cannabis Stores, by contrast, has been open about the location of its distribution centre, which is on No. 6 Road in Richmond. The company has revealed the number of people who work there (130) and recruits for employees openly.

It has also been open about the facility’s size: 70,000 square feet — almost exactly the same size as Ontario’s warehouse.

B.C. and Ontario have quite similar systems for selling recreational marijuana, except that Ontario has no physical stores and B.C. has a handful.

Ontario will open just 25 cannabis stores — selected by lottery — in April 2019.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis would not tell us the size of its equivalent facility.

Ontario had perhaps the roughest launch of any province in the period immediately after legalization. Over 1,000 customers complained to the province’s ombudsman about delays and poor communication, and in a national poll in late November, Ontario cannabis buyers said they were much more dissatisfied with delivery times than buyers in any other province.

“I would say Ontario sh*t the bed the worst,” Aurora CEO Terry Booth told a cannabis conference in Nevada in November, the Financial Post reported.

“The OCS has been truly amazed by the volume of sales,” wrote president Patrick Ford a few days after legalization. “It’s way beyond what we anticipated.”

(In B.C., 90 per cent of cannabis buyers told pollsters they were happy with delivery times, as opposed to 60 per cent in Ontario.)

Later in the year, Ontario delivery times shortened and product selection improved. The unofficial OCS Reddit board, which was at first devoted to the monopoly‘s various failings, has now turned mostly to crowdsourcing product reviews.

A look at Ontario’s cannabis distribution centre suggests another explanation for the backlogs: the warehouse, through which all legal pot sold in Ontario must move, may simply have been too small.

Was the rough rollout connected in part to the size of the warehouse? And can the facility cope with shipping to online stores and being a wholesale warehouse next April?

The warehouse’s size turns out to be one of many aspects of legalization in Ontario that the provincial government refuses to discuss.

Ontario’s finance ministry referred the question to the OCRC, and spokesperson Daffyd Roderick emailed a generic response, saying: “Location and details of the OCS distribution centre are undisclosed for security reasons and will not be publicly announced or confirmed.”

A later access-to-information request showed that the OCRC’s refusal to discuss whether the warehouse was big enough is connected to the fact that the agency has tried to keep its address secret (though not very successfully).

“We are not confirming the location of the distribution facility so we did not delve into (this reporter’s) assumptions regarding the facility’s capacity,” Roderick wrote in an internal email.

Ontario’s finance ministry would not answer questions about whether it planned to open more warehouses, whether it planned to move to a bigger one or whether the existing one would be able to meet demand in April.

“When we look at the size of our province and the demand, we should be looking at perhaps expanding warehouse operations, opening more stores, not fewer, as this government is planning to do,” said deputy opposition leader Sara Singh.

“It makes sense as to why we’re seeing such a botched rollout, frankly. How is this one facility supposed to not only be a wholesaler but also distribute this cannabis across the province? It’s unfathomable that it would be sufficient.”

The president of Domain Logistics, the third-party logistics company that OPSEU has identified as running the warehouse, did not respond to multiple interview requests.

In October, Domain Logistics published two ads at Hamilton’s Mohawk College seeking people to do warehouse-related work at the facility. A municipal development newsletter published by the Town of Oakville last summer said Domain Logistics had leased the warehouse in the second quarter of 2018, which would have been in the last months of Ontario’s Liberal government. Disability law compliance forms on the company’s site also connect it to the warehouse’s address.

The government has refused to say who is running the warehouse or explain how they got the contract.

READ MORE: Contracting out Ontario’s pot warehouse should be secret, LCBO argued

Ontario’s 25 stores set to open in April work out to one retail store for every 567,000 people.

By contrast, Nova Scotia started legalization with one store per 74,000 people, New Brunswick with one store per 37,000 people, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s 24 stores each serve just 22,000 people.

Bricks-and-mortar stores in many provinces have had to close because of supply shortages.

Article source Global News

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