The Grocery CEOs Visit Parliament
The House of Commons Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee recently invited the CEOs of Canada’s three largest supermarket chains (Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro – who together control around two-thirds of all food retailing in Canada) to testify as part of their inquiry into food inflation. Their visit made for high political theatre, and generated widespread media coverage.
Centre for Future Work director Jim Stanford, who previously testified to that same Commons committee, appeared in several news segments and news stories:
The debate over the role of excess profits – not just in supermarkets, but in other links in the food supply chain, including energy prices and food manufacturing – will continue. Grocery prices have risen almost twice as fast in the last 12 months as the overall consumer price index, and supermarkets continue to capture record profits from escalating prices. The anger expressed by Canadians about this is legitimate.
Policies for fixing this problem are complex and multi-faceted; some are explored in the recent Centre for Future Work – Canadian Labour Congress co-publication, A Cure Worse than the Disease. But at least the Members of Parliament who grilled the CEOs are on the right track, in identifying greed and profit-taking as significant causes of the inflation Canadians are facing. That’s more accurate than trying to blame workers for the problem, as the Bank of Canada has tried to do: blaming low unemployment and wage growth as the causes of rising prices, and then imposing record hikes in interest rates to lift unemployment and weaken wages.