The chains would face “consequences” if they do not find meaningful solutions to stabilize prices, authorities said.
The Canadian government is attacking grocery giants who are warning them against “big consequences” if they fail to provide “relief for Canadians” by stabilizing food prices by October 9. This populist decision comes against a backdrop of rising inflation in the country and poor results for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in the polls.
Speaking at the Liberal national caucus retreat in London, Ont., on Thursday, Justin Trudeau said he expects “to have their (largest grocery chains) comments by Thanksgiving on their plan to stabilize prices”, adding that “If their plan doesn’t provide real relief to the middle class and the people who work hard to join it, then we will take other steps, and we’re not ruling out anything, including tax measures.”
The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, confirmed in an interview with CIBC that he had sent invitations to the CEOs of Loblaw, Sobeys, Metro, Costco and Walmart – the largest grocery chains across the country – to attend in person. a meeting in Ottawa on Monday with the aim of reaching a “significant action that would reduce price inflation in the grocery sector. »
Champagne did not specify what kind of “fiscal measures” the Prime Minister had in mind, but instead reiterated that there would be “consequences” if they failed “come to the table with a meaningful solution. »
The move comes amid a rising cost of living in Canada and reports that grocery giants have posted record profits.
“It is not acceptable that our largest grocery stores are making record profits while Canadians are struggling to put food on the table. » Trudeau said at a news conference Thursday.
Grocery store CEOs have denied allegations of price gouging and inflation profiteering, arguing that “Grocery chains operate on extremely low profit margins and have minimal influence on inflation.”
The Retail Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s major grocery chains, says that focusing solely on grocery stores will not solve the problem of rising food costs because it is only ” tip of the iceberg.” Instead, he urged the government to “look in the mirror”. According to Karl Littler, senior vice president of public relations at the Retail Council, it is “government public policies” such as the ever-increasing carbon tax that are affecting farmers and food retailers, limiting the use of plastic which helps maintain the freshness of food, the cost of fertilizers and increase in the supplier’s cost price which mainly contributes to the surge in prices.
“If they don’t look at what’s beneath the surface and what’s really driving food prices, then this exercise won’t be very useful,” he added. » Littler said.
The Trudeau government has been criticized for its weak response to the current financial crisis. The main problem remains housing affordability, with the benchmark cost of housing having doubled since 2013. The cost of food has increased at a rate higher than inflation, but in December 2022, Trudeau rejected taxing the profits of grocery stores, arguing that the cost would be passed on to household incomes. consumers.
There is growing public discontent with Justin Trudeau’s handling of the economy, with recent polls suggesting that just 26% of Canadians would vote for the Liberals if the election were held today, with the Conservatives in the lead.
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