Canada’s five largest grocery chains – Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Costco and Walmart, met in Ottawa with Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne this month. They have agreed to offer consumers more price-matching campaigns along with discounts and price freezes.
These actions come after a threat made earlier this spring by the federal government to impose a grocery code of conduct to help combat the effects of food inflation. In September the government issued an ultimatum to the grocers indicating that if they didn’t stabilize prices by Thanksgiving they would face tax consequences.
The Competition Bureau reported in June that Canada’s grocery sector lacked competition and is dominated by three domestic giants – Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who joined Champagne at his press conference, said that tax measures are still an option. “No tools are off the table, no measures are off the table” she said. “That very much included finance measures like tax measures So that is for sure an option.”
The government has also said it plans to change the Competition Act to give the bureau more power to take action when it needs to. The legislative changes would include allowing the bureau to “compel the production of information to conduct effective and complete market studies,” a government press release said.