ALBERTA NDP DEMANDS GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION
INTO SKYROCKETING GROCERY PRICES
EDMONTON – The Alberta NDP is demanding a provincial government-led investigation into skyrocketing grocery prices to determine if price gouging is occurring, with a goal of lowering costs for Alberta families.
“Albertans are facing an affordability crisis not seen in 40 years,” said NDP Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Critic Heather Sweet. “They’ve seen prices skyrocket on everything from gas prices, utility fees, and housing, but nothing reminds them more on a daily basis of just how expensive things have gotten than the price of food.
“We’re here today to call on the UCP government to immediately launch an investigation into the massive spike in grocery prices here in Alberta to determine whether price gouging is occurring, to assess the lack of competition and explore measures to improve it, and — most importantly — to take any identified steps or measures to lower costs for families immediately.”
While inflation has started to cool, food prices continue to increase more than 10 per cent month-over-month. Alberta retail prices show increases of more than 30 per cent in some cases in the year-over-year prices of some goods, such as vegetable oil, lettuce and beef.
“I have heard from producers who are struggling so much to make ends meet in this province,” Sweet continued. “They certainly are not reaping the rewards of these higher prices. So, the question really is, who is profiting while producers and Alberta families suffer so much?”
The Alberta NDP Caucus is actively working to arrange discussions with the two major grocery chains operating in the province. Loblaws alone earned $387 million and Empire reported $187.5 million in their last reporting quarter. With record profits and larger margins since the pandemic, the investigation would be tasked with reviewing the business practices of the large corporate grocers over the last two years to ensure they are not capitalizing on the cost of living crisis.
“We know that the increased cost of food hurts those closest to poverty the most,” said Community and Social Services Critic Marie Renaud. “Every dollar increase pushes more and more Albertan’s into food insecurity. That means hundreds of thousands of Albertans won’t afford a balanced diet, or are worrying about running out of food before they have money to buy more.”
A new Canada-wide survey showed that the majority of respondents said they are using coupons or hunting for sales to cope with increasing food costs. Nearly 20 per cent were also reducing meal sizes or skipping meals altogether in order to save money.
Additionally, Alberta’s 107 food banks are seeing an alarming increase in the need for their services, with a 34 per cent increase in food bank access year-over-year – including nearly 58,000 kids who relied on a food bank in March alone.
“Albertans are facing an affordability crisis not seen in 40 years,” Renaud said. “We cannot wait any longer to take action. Alberta families have suffered too much. We are calling on the UCP to immediately launch this investigation and to openly and transparently report back to Albertans with the results, as quickly as possible.”