Wednesday October 18, 2023 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
Yesterday NDP Food Price Inflation Critic Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan–Malahat–Langford) called out the Liberals and Conservatives for backing “rich grocery CEOs” who he described as “jacking up prices, instead of working for Canadians”.
This comes after the Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne recently admitted that lower grocery prices have not been forthcoming despite his meeting with the five largest grocery retailers in September. It was in fact a gentle approach from the federal government — and somewhat unrealistic — to expect the major grocers to come back with changes that would produce tangible prices at the checkout ahead of the Oct 7 Thanksgiving weekend.
“I can assure you there was nothing nice about my meeting with the five grocers,” said Champagne during the October 17 House of Commons question period. He said he had expressed to the grocery CEOs the frustration of “40 million Canadians who are struggling to put food on the table”. And had asked them to “do their part to stabilize prices”.
The Canadian population is now about 40 million. Perhaps all Canadians are noticing the incessantly increasing retail food prices, though arguably it’s the low and middle income households that are struggling the most.
Needing more competition:
Through Bill C56, Minister Champagne said he expects there to be “more competition, no more consolidation and more food on the table for Canadians”.
“Wishing and hoping that rich CEOs will do the right thing won’t help families put food on the table,” said MacGregor in his statement during question period, saying the federal government is ‘out of touch’ with realities for many Canadians. The Liberals likely do have to keep in mind where their party support comes from, which significantly includes the corporate sector.
Grocery prices have been steadily increasing for at least 22 months now, impacted by remaining pandemic supply chain disruptions, supply chain issues related to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the resulting inflationary impacts from all that — greatly exacerbated by the intentional series of interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada since spring 2022.
In all that time, the rate of food inflation has been higher than the baseline rate of inflation.
NDP still claiming grocery price resolution turf:
Back in September, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s private members bill offered the government a plan to lower grocery bills for Canadians: increase penalties for price fixing, help smaller grocery stores by protecting them against anti-competitive tactics from bigger players, give the competition bureau more powers to crack down on abuses like price-gouging consumers, and stop mergers that decrease competition and hurt Canadians.
“Canadians expect action, but the Liberals are out to lunch – and the Conservatives, you are all words but have no real plan,” said MacGregor with a fiery partisan pitch. He called for an adjustment in approach: “When is the Minister going to get real about helping Canadian families, and support the NDP’s plan to lower food prices?”
==== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends reports on ‘stuff that matters’ to you in your daily life, your household, your business and your community. News is posted daily at IslandSocialTrends.ca .
News is reported through a socioeconomic lens, including where any political or government impacts are relevant.
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has a B.Sc. in foods and nutrition. She is interested in the health aspects of good food in today’s modern society, and gives talks on urban food resilience. See the Island Social Trends Food Security news section.
Reader comments welcome.