Multi-province Lotto 6/49 game will be unplayable in Québec until strike is settled
By Kate Northrop
MONTREAL, Canada — Lottery players in Québec will be unable to participate in Canada's national Lotto 6/49 game due to an employee strike at the Québec Lottery (Loto-Québec).
Over 400 professionals at the Québec Lottery went on strike following failed negotiations around pay raises and rising inflation, causing a delay in ticket validation and the scheduled rollout of the new nationwide Lotto 6/49 game in the province.
The Lottery is calling this delay a result of "pressure tactics" used by employees represented by the Syndicat de professionnelles et professionels du government du Québec (SPGQ) labor union.
On Aug. 25, union members rejected the Lottery's 2% pay raise for its employees, arguing that the proposed salary increases did not keep up with inflation, union executive Lydia Martel said.
Five days later, the union members announced that a 72 percent majority had voted to reject the Lottery's offer, and that they would be launching a general unlimited strike on Sept. 10.
The group also mentioned grievances with current restrictions on remote work, which may come up in future discussions.
455 professionals, working across a variety of departments such as information technology, communications, procurement, sales and marketing, accounting, real estate, and legal affairs, went on strike Saturday, Sept. 10.
This is also not the first time the Lottery's employees went on strike. Following the previous failed round of negotiations a few weeks ago, the union took the same route.
The current strike's timing coincides with the Canada-wide rollout of the new and improved version of the Lotto 6/49 game, which is scheduled for Sept. 14. Because the strike started before the Lottery's computer systems were updated with the new game rules, it is impossible for the province to participate in the revamped game.
"Since Loto-Québec cannot guarantee the smooth rollout of the game due to the launch of an unlimited general strike by its professional staff, management prefers to reschedule it... It is technically impossible to continue the game in its current form beyond this date since the other provinces will be transitioning to the new, improved version," the Lottery said.
In a press release, the Lottery relayed that players cannot validate Lotto 6/49 tickets at a retailer or check their Lotto 6/49 tickets using the app as of Sept. 11. Players are encouraged to hold on to their ticket until "things go back to normal."
"Loto-Québec thanks its customers for their understanding and wishes to reassure customers that the integrity of its draws will not be compromised as a result, and all valid prize claims will be honored," the Lottery's statement reads.
Players may still buy tickets for all other lottery games, both online and in-person at retailers.
"Since employees are at the heart of its activities, Loto-Québec is committed to offering them the best possible working conditions and maintaining its ability to attract new talent while fulfilling its responsibilities as a government corporation," the Lottery said.