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Industry plan to slow grocery prices leaves B.C. critic ‘unimpressed’

B.C. NDP MP and agriculture critic says ‘confidential’ plan already showing up in grocery flyers

New Democrat MP Alistair MacGregor says he has reviewed the major grocers’ plans to stabilize prices, and he’s unimpressed by what is in them.

MacGregor, the NDP agriculture critic, spoke to reporters Monday afternoon ahead of a committee appearance by Michael Medline, the president and CEO of Empire Company Ltd., which owns Sobeys and other grocery store chains.

Medline’s appearance comes after the committee requested that the top execs of major grocers testify before the committee once again on their plans to stabilize prices.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced this fall that major companies, including Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart and Costco, had shared plans to tackle rising prices that included discounts, price freezes and price-matching campaigns.

MacGregor said the grocers agreed to share the plans with members of the House of Commons agriculture committee, and in return, the committee promised to keep their contents confidential.

But the MP said the plans include a lot of information that is already public.

“I can tell you after having reviewed the documents over the last couple of weeks that I walked away quite unimpressed,” MacGregor said.

“And to tell you the truth, a lot of the information contained in these so-called confidential documents are stuff I could have found by reviewing their weekly flyers and looking with a simple Google search.”

The federal Liberals have faced heat from both the NDP and Conservatives over the rapid pace at which grocery prices have climbed.

And while food inflation — a global post-pandemic phenomenon — slowed in recent months, prices continue to rise rapidly.

In October, grocery prices were up 5.4 per cent compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, Canada’s overall inflation rate was 3.1 per cent.

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