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New Survey: Canadians Pessimistic About Food Prices

A new survey commissioned by The Canadian Press reveals that a solid majority of Canadians are pessimistic about the future of food prices. And one federal Party Leader has publicly declared his intention to fight the big supermarkets…

Galen Weston Witness - © 2023 Spencer Colby - CPLoblaw’s head honcho: Not happy about testifying at one of last falls’ federal government
food price inquiries. He should be even more uncomfortable now that his mega
corp has reported profits of $2.1 billion for 2023, up from $1.9 billion
in 2022. How will he justify that at the
next inquiry?

By the numbers…

The new Ledger survey asked a carefully selected group of Canadians about their views of the current food price situation. Overall Canadian consumer opinion on food prices is decidedly negative:

  • About 64 per cent of respondents fear the [overall] price of groceries is going up.
  • Only 28 per cent said [the price] it’s about the same. And…
  • Just five per cent said it’s on the way down.

On where the blame for soaring food prices should be laid, opinion was divided:

  • Some 27 per cent of respondents attributed the increase to global factors like inflation and supply chain issues.
  • 26 per cent said grocery chains are squeezing consumers in the name of profit. While…
  • Another 23 per cent said it’s the federal government’s fault.

And on the subject of federal government action take on food prices to date:

  • One in four respondents, or 23 per cent, said they found the federal government’s grocery rebate from last July helpful. While…
  • More than half — 52 per cent — did not.

The message is clear

Canadians want the government and the supermarkets to act decisively to lower food prices. And if the latest display of egregious greed by the industry is any indication, that means the government will have to get off its cowardly duff and legislate an end to soaring food prices.

A Canadian (CP) Press story last Thursday reported: “Meanwhile, Loblaw Companies Ltd. — which includes the grocery retailer as well as Shoppers Drug Mart and PC Financial — reported annual profits [for 2023] of $2.1 billion, up from $1.9 billion in 2022. The company also plans capital investments of more than $2 billion this year, including more than 40 new discount stores.”

Clearly, the supermarkets aren’t planning to make any serious efforts to help starving Canadians.

Enter, Jagmeet Singh

The leader of the federal New Democratic Party has been demanding government action for some time now.

He has a private member’s bill currently before the House of Commons designed to address aggressively the food price crisis. The bill has just passed Second Reading with non-partisan support from fellow opposition members in the Conservative and Bloc Québécois parties.

“The bill proposes stiffer penalties for price- and wage-fixing – measures that would have had consequences for the bread price-fixing scandal of 2017. It would also set rules to prevent mergers that Singh believes lead to abuse,” the CP story explains.

Singh is determined – driven to extreme emotions – about getting his bill passed: “Do you think that I want to stifle [the supermarkets] from ripping people off? I 100 percent want to stifle them,” Singh told CP. “I want to stifle them from exploiting people.”

My take

Singh is sincerely committed to tackling the food price crisis. And I suspect that the Liberal government is waiting – stalling – to see if his private member’s bill passes Third and final Reading. If it does, they won’t have to do anything. At least not for a while. They’re hoping that will save them political embarrassment, and suffering ‘unfriending’ by the Supermarket Industry.

Alas, whatever becomes of Singh’s bill, I also suspect that irate Canadians – as ‘quoted’ in the new Ledger poll – will keep heaping shame and blame on the Liberal administration for high and rising food prices. And rightfully so.

~ Maggie J.