The Hamilton Spectator

Grocery chain CEOs summoned to testify in Ottawa


Members of Parliament have summoned the heads of Canada’s largest grocery store chains to answer for rising grocery prices.

On Monday, a House of Commons committee studying food price inflation called on the CEOs and presidents of Loblaw Companies, Metro and Empire Company Limited — which operates chains including Sobeys, Safeway and FreshCo — to attend an upcoming meeting. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The proposal to hear from the CEOs came from NDP MP Alistair MacGregor, and it received unanimous support from Liberal, Conservati­ve and Bloc Québécois MPs. Executives from all three companies, as well as Save-On-Foods, have testified at past committee meetings focused on the rising cost of food — but not their CEOs.

The committee began the study in October, originally setting aside six meetings to discuss the subject. MPs have now decided to add more meetings.

Prices for food purchased from stores rose nearly 10 per cent in 2022, the fastest pace since 1981, with higher prices in every food category except for canned salmon, according to Statistics Canada.

“Canadians are cutting back on their usual grocery lists and stretching their paycheques even further to get less for their families,” said MacGregor, who is the NDP’s food price inflation critic.

“But all the while, these grocery CEOs are making more money than they ever have before. It just doesn’t add up.”

Last year, the Liberal government ordered the Competitio­n Bureau to study food prices at grocery chains and whether competitio­n between companies is contributi­ng to higher prices.

The bureau has said that many factors may have affected the price of food, including extreme weather, higher input costs, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supply-chain disruption­s. Its study is expected to be released sometime this year.

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