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Local and nation-wide rallies demand action against grocery price gouging


Rallies took place nationwide on Saturday, as concerned citizens demanded “the biggest grocery chains to stop price gouging hardworking Canadians.”

Low-income advocacy group, The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), organized the movement which spanned nine cities across the country.

One of the speakers at the rally near Sobeys at 94 Bridgeport Road East in Waterloo was Ezekiel Gonzolez, a board member of Waterloo Region ACORN. He emphasized the dire situation faced by many Canadians.

"People are having to choose between paying bills and rent or being able to have enough to eat," he said.

ACORN Canada is urging the federal government to take action by imposing taxes on excessive profits made by grocery chains and implementing price caps on essential food items.

“What's the excuse? Europe has already been doing it for quite a while. Why can't we do it here?” questioned Gonzolez.

In response to the nationwide rallies, a spokesperson for Sobeys said in a statement: “We respect the right to peaceful protest. We also expect that demonstrators will not impede customers coming into our stores so that they can go about their shopping without interference or intimidation. The safety of our teammates and customers is our top priority.”

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, cautioned against further taxing grocers, warning that it could lead to even higher grocery prices. He pointed out the thin profit margins in the grocery sector, averaging around 2.53%.

“The windfall tax in the grocery sector is a dangerous thing for consumers because the (profit) margins are extremely low,” he explained.

Charlebois also highlighted the challenges of implementing price caps in a country with thousands of stores.

“We have 20,000 stores in Canada. How do you actually regulate all that stuff?You would discourage competition. As soon as you start playing around with market conditions, it will discourage players from entering the market,” said Charlebois. “The grocery store is part of the problem, it is not the problem.”

Instead of focusing solely on taxation and price regulation, Charlebois advocated for a grocery code of conduct to foster competition and fairness within the industry. He believes such measures could support independent grocers and create a more balanced relationship between suppliers and retailers.

Canada's first-ever grocery code of conduct is currently in the final stages of development, but it faces pushback from major players like Walmart Canada and Loblaw Companies Ltd. These companies argue that the code could inflate food prices by over $1 billion for Canadian consumers.

For more information on Canada's grocery code of conduct development, see here. Top Stories

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