Stop the Squeeze: Passing a law to lower food prices?

A recent email from federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh caught our attention. In it, Singh writes that he has “big news,” and goes on to say:

My bill to take on corporate greed and lower grocery prices just PASSED in the House of Commons! 

This is huge. If written into law, my bill will address the true source of high grocery prices. It’ll crack down on the big grocery CEOs like Galen Weston and stop them from price fixing and price gouging, so you can finally afford the things you used to buy. 

February 7, 2024, email from Jagmeet Singh

Singh’s private member’s bill is called the Lowering Prices for Canadians Act and, as reported by CTV, if passed into law the bill would look to change Canada’s Competition Act in the following ways:

  •  Allowing the Competition Bureau to crack down on “price gouging” with increased fines aligned with those in place in the EU and Australia, for practices such as price-fixing and overcharging;
  •  Providing the agency more tools to prevent corporate mergers in order to “better protect” consumers; and
  •  Making it easier for the Competition Bureau to go after companies who engage in anti-competitive tactics by lowering the threshold from having to demonstrate intent in engaging in bad corporate behaviour, to demonstrating the impact of that action on consumers or the sector.

You may recall that last year, the Canadian Competition Bureau issued a report noting that, “Canadians are recognizing the relationship between a lack of competition and rising prices.” 

The Bureau concluded that increased competition was a key component to bringing the price of food down. But it could be that the agency requires the sorts of additional tools Singh’s bill would provide given the disappointing results that Canadian grocers have produced thus far.

If you would like to see Jagmeet Singh’s bill to lower Canadian grocery prices become law, click here to visit Our Commons, find your Member of Parliament’s contact information, and reach out to let them know how you feel.

Additionally, UFCW Local 401 continues to demand that grocery giants like Sobeys and Loblaws share their success with their employees, with contracts set to expire in 2025 and 2026 respectively.

Last year, Local 401 was successful in convincing an arbitrator to award the largest wage increase top-rate and overscale Safeway employees have seen in thirty years.

When we all work together we can win victories that put pressure on governments and giant corporations to Stop the Squeeze and make life more affordable.