Trudeau summons high Canadian grocers in battle in opposition to rising meals costs

OTTAWA, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday mentioned he had summoned the nation’s high grocers to assist discover resolution to the surging meals costs and vowed to chop federal taxes on new rental buildings, as he fights an affordability disaster that has dented his social gathering’s opinion ballot rankings.

After assembly with Liberal Get together legislators in London, Ontario, Trudeau mentioned the federal government requested the executives of the 5 largest grocery chains, together with Loblaw Co (L.TO), Sobeys (EMPa.TO) and Metro (MRU.TO), to return to Ottawa subsequent week to clarify how they may stabilize costs. The 5 firms, representing 80% of the Canadian grocery market, have till Oct. 9 to provide you with a proposal.

“If their plan would not present actual reduction … we are going to take additional motion and we’re not ruling something out, together with tax measures,” mentioned Trudeau.

“It doesn’t make sense in a rustic like Canada that our largest grocery chains ought to be making file earnings whereas Canadians are struggling to place meals on the desk.”

In 2022, Canada’s three largest grocers – Loblaw, Sobeys, and Metro – collectively reported greater than C$100 billion ($74 billion) in gross sales and earned greater than C$3.6 billion in revenue.

Trudeau, who’s below strain over a scarcity of reasonably priced housing, mentioned his authorities will take away the federal 5% gross sales tax on the development of latest rental condominium buildings.

“There are numerous builders and builders that aren’t shifting ahead with constructing new flats as a result of the prices are just too excessive,” Trudeau mentioned, including the measure will result in the creation of many new condominium buildings.

Trudeau’s minority authorities is propped up by left-leaning New Democrats Get together and election is just due in 2025. However opinion polls present the primary opposition Conservatives, who accuse Trudeau of driving inflation by means of excessive authorities spending, would win energy and finish eight years of Liberal rule if an election have been held now.


A number of grocery executives denied profiteering prices in a parliamentary committee earlier this 12 months. However the lack of competitors within the grocery sector has additionally irked the competitors watchdog, and in June, it mentioned extra gamers have been essential to fight hovering costs of important items.

Trudeau waded into that debate on Thursday and mentioned his authorities will take away provisions in competitors legal guidelines that firms use to defend huge mergers, saying price financial savings outweigh adverse impacts on competitors.

Hovering meals costs have been a priority for European governments as properly and in March the French authorities reached a cope with the nation’s predominant grocery store chains to assist consumers deal with meals costs.

However the Retail Council of Canada pushed again in opposition to Trudeau’s claims and blamed the surging costs on meals producers and producers passing on greater prices to the grocers.

The affiliation’s spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen mentioned any “credible dialogue” on restoring costs should embody meals processors, producers and different related companies throughout the provide chain.

Sobeys and Walmart Canada had no quick remark, whereas Metro declined remark. Loblaw mentioned the corporate was “all the time open to discussions about what extra will be carried out throughout the trade.”

In July, Trudeau shuffled a lot of his cupboard to concentrate on points like a housing scarcity and the rising price of residing and on Thursday he reiterated that he had no plan to give up.

Conservative chief Pierre Poilievre on Thursday once more blamed the housing disaster on Trudeau, and mentioned he would introduce his personal plan to get houses constructed to parliament when it reconvenes subsequent week after the summer time break.

($1 = 1.3506 Canadian {dollars})

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer, extra reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru;
Writing by Denny Thomas
enhancing by Grant McCool, Alistair Bell, David Gregorio and Lincoln Feast

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