Canadians who have suspected their grocery bills have been rising over the years aren’t imagining it, according to a new report that found the price of food has been steadily increasing in the last decade – and the COVID-19 pandemic is only accelerating this trend.
According to the report, which was released on Tuesday by Dalhousie University’s Agri-food Analytics Lab, the price of a typical grocery basket has increased by approximately 240 per cent since 2000.
While it’s expected the price of food will go up because of inflation, Sylvain Charlebois, a professor and senior director of the lab, said his team wanted to see how the food price index compared with the general inflation index or Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the past 20 years.
“The point of the report is to show that really over the last 10 years, at least, the food inflation rate has outpaced the general inflation rate,” he explained during a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.
The report found that the overall cost of other products and services in the economy didn’t increase as much as food did during this time period.
Charlebois said the rising cost of food is actually the result of the agri-food industry playing “catch up” after a generation of discounted products.
“North America has been the realm of discounted food for quite some time. We are just coming out of an era in which we have been bent on buying the cheapest food products,” the report stated. “But things are different now.”
The researchers said consumers have more choice than ever now and because of that, they expect more innovation and quality when it comes to their food.
“There is certainly a price to pay for that. As a result, the industry has been catching up to our expectations by managing higher costs and passing some of the increases onto us,” the report said.
Charlebois said he expects the COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate the pace of these food price increases because operation costs have gone up during the health emergency.
“We actually are expecting the average household in Canada to spend not just 9.1 per cent of their budget, but maybe 10.5, perhaps even 11 per cent,” he said.
While the report found that every province and territory have had their consumer price indices outstripped by the food price index, some regions have seen more of a disparity than others.
Charlebois said households in Eastern Canada have had to spend more of their budgets on food than in other areas due to a lack of regionally based food processing and the higher logistical costs of serving some remote markets.
New Brunswick saw the biggest gap between the food price index and the general price index at 25.8 points, followed by Quebec (23.1 per cent), and Nova Scotia (21.3 per cent).
“It is especially in the last decade that the gap between the two indices has widened,” the report said.
To avoid food insecurity from the rising costs, Charlebois said he would like to see governments invest in controlled environment agriculture, greenhouses to produce food all year round, and increases in the processing capacity in the most affected regions.
SUGAR, PEANUT BUTTER REMAIN AFFORDABLE
While the rising cost of food may be unwelcome news for most Canadians, Charlebois said there are still several food items that appear to be impervious to the increases.
According to Statistics Canada, white sugar is almost the same price as it was 20 years ago in 2000 at $2.40 per two kilograms.
“Although there are only three sugar producers in Canada that control the market, Redpath, Lantic and Rogers in the West, the price of sugar has barely changed in the last two decades,” the report said.
Flour, too, has also remained fairly cheap, Charlebois said, with only a 38 per cent increase over the past two decades.
There has been even less of an increase in price for peanut butter over the years, according to Charlebois. He said peanut butter is only 5 per cent more expensive now than it was in 2000.
“I think it has a lot to do with competition,” he said. “The fact that there are a lot more brands and it’s been a little bit more competitive.”
Canada adds more than 2500 new coronavirus cases Friday – Global News
Twenty-six more coronavirus patients have died in Canada, and 2,582 new cases of the virus have been recorded.
The increases announced Friday bring the cumulative national case total to 211,515, though more than 177,000 people have recovered, according to provincial statistics. The number of COVID-19-positive people in Canada who have died stands at 9,888.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said the number of people experiencing severe cases of the virus is on the rise. An average of 1,000 Canadians are in hospital daily, she said, with more than 200 in critical care.
Feds making little headway on improving long-term care homes
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research.
At a press conference in Ottawa, he also shed some light on who might be first in line to receive an immunization once a product is proven to be effective and safe.
Trudeau said the “reasonable expectation” is that vaccines could arrive sometime in the new year, but initially there will be smaller amounts available and the shots would be going to priority groups first.
“I think of our most vulnerable or our front-line workers, and we have experts busy evaluating exactly how and where and in which way to distribute these vaccines,” he said.
Quebec, the province hardest hit by the virus, added 905 cases on Friday, along with 12 deaths — four of which occurred in the last 24 hours.
Officials warned Friday that Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches residents must abide by public health directives aimed at stemming the tide of COVID-19 in order to keep the health-care network intact.
“If we keep on the same track as we currently are, we are going straight into a wall,” said Quebec’s Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault. “The health-care system will not be able to take care of you anymore in some cases.”
Coronavirus: New recommendations aimed at saving lives in Ontario long-term care homes
Ontario posted another 826 coronavirus cases and nine fatalities attributed to the virus. An independent commission on long-term care released a report with recommendations on how to assist Ontario facilities in the second wave of the virus.
B.C., which is heading to the polls on Saturday, topped 2,000 active virus cases for the first time on Friday with the addition of 223 cases.
In Manitoba, 163 new cases were announced, along with the death of a man in his 80s who was a resident at a Winnipeg long-term care home that is suffering an outbreak.
Throughout Atlantic Canada, just two more cases of the virus were diagnosed — both in New Brunswick.
The Northwest Territories also announced a new coronavirus patient, who officials said was a Yellowknife resident who works at the Gahcho Kue diamond mine. Health officials in Yukon announced three new cases on Friday, located in Watson Lake near the boundary with B.C.
Coronavirus: WHO says world is at a ‘critical juncture’ amid pandemic, some countries on a ‘dangerous track’
With some record daily case counts around the world this week, the World Health Organization warned that we are at a “critical juncture” in the pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Friday that some countries are on a “dangerous track.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, which is tallying known cases and deaths around the world, more than 42 million people have been diagnosed, and 1.1 million have died due to COVID-19 as of Friday.
—With files from Kalina Laframboise and Global News reporters across Canada
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada and its manufacturing sector face harm if PPE documents are released, says industry group – CBC.ca
Releasing confidential documents detailing the federal government’s business deals with suppliers of personal protective equipment and testing devices could hurt Canadian manufacturers and sully Canada’s global business reputation, a major industry association says.
Dennis Darby is president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a 150-year-old organization that represents some 2,500 businesses. He has written to the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP asking them to push back against a Conservative motion requesting those documents.
“We urge you to resist calls for disclosing any proprietary and confidential business information shared in private with the government of Canada and we commit ourselves to working with you to ensure that this does not happen,” Darby wrote.
The letter refers to Conservative MP Michelle Rempel-Garner’s motion calling on the federal government to release “all memoranda, emails, documents, notes and other records” detailing federal government’s purchasing of all testing-related equipment, from swabs to devices, and all personal protective equipment.
The motion also calls for detailed information about vaccines and asks the federal government’s Vaccine Task Force for information about its contacts with the federal government and its vaccine distribution and monitoring strategy.
“If these disclosures are too broad, it will negatively impact business operations for manufacturers in Canada and around the globe,” Darby wrote. “Furthermore, we worry that the reputations of many manufacturers, who stepped up to produce and sell personal protective equipment (PPE), testing devices, or other goods, will be unfairly tarnished.”
Darby said that the expense involved in retooling factories to produce masks, face shields, gowns and other items increased the cost of those products, even though the manufacturers sold them to the government at cost.
“Without doubt, those sudden ramp-up costs are significantly higher than a manufacturer who had been producing those same products for years,” Darby said in the letter. “We do not think their intentions should be called into question.”
The motion will go to a vote on Monday. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez’s office confirmed Thursday it won’t be considered a confidence vote — meaning it won’t trigger a general election if it passes.
The parties are debating how much time the government should have to gather the relevant documents after the Liberals said the motion’s 15-day timeline was unrealistic.
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, made a similar plea on Twitter this week, saying that the Conservative motion is threatening the “biggest industrial mobilization of Canadian industry in its history.”
Volpe said that if manufacturers find their work being politicized, the companies that dropped everything to be a part of the effort to make PPE could abandon the work and tell the federal government to shop for PPE in China.
Now this motion threatens to politicize to biggest industrial mobilization of Canadian industry in its history. <br><br>There are firm levers to compel disclosure at any time of any business any govt is conducting with industry.<br><br>This motion isn’t necessary. /3<a href=”https://t.co/2OL1pw91Rr”>https://t.co/2OL1pw91Rr</a>
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Thursday that the federal government is in the middle of negotiating contracts and disclosing sensitive business information could threaten those deals.
“If we go ahead and release information, that will undermine our supplier relationships,” she told guest host David Cochrane. “I am very concerned with releasing documents, vaccine contracts, PPE contracts … because we will undermine those relationships.”
The co-chairs of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force also expressed their concern in a letter sent Thursday to the leaders of all five federal political parties.
Joanne Langley and Mark Lievonen said that in order to provide advice to cabinet, they have entered into non-disclosure agreements with companies from Canada and around the world.
The task force has offered MPs from all parties a briefing, providing those MPs are also “subject to the same confidentiality arrangements” that bind the task force.
“Without this guarantee of commercial confidentiality, it would not have been possible for us to meaningfully engage with these firms nor to obtain the data needed to make evidence-based, informed recommendations,” the letter from the task force co-chairs said.
It’s not clear what the final motion will look like come Monday; as it stands now, it includes a provision that appears to allow for some information to be withheld.
The motion says the documents can be “vetted for matters of personal privacy information and national security … the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations between the Government of Canada and a third party.”
That vetting, the motion says, should be done by the law clerk and parliamentary counsel within seven days of delivery of the documents.
Trudeau announces $214M for potential made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccines – CTV News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to offer Canadians modest hope about progress in testing and vaccine development after Canada notched an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases in a day.
Trudeau told a news conference Friday that the government is spending $214 million towards the development of COVID-19 vaccines, signing deals with two Canadian biotech firms.
But even as he touted Canada’s portfolio of potential vaccines, Trudeau warned it’s unlikely that any of these candidates will be ready to distribute to Canadians this year or early next year. It’s reasonable to expect that vaccines will start to roll out at some point in 2021, said Trudeau, but even then, supply will be limited, and high-risk populations will be prioritized for inoculation.
“We are hopeful that the vaccines will arrive yesterday, but they won’t,” said Trudeau. “There’s still a number more months of work to do.”
Trudeau said his government signed a $173-million contract with Quebec’s Medicago to secure the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine, should it meet health and safety standards. The funding will also be used to establish a production facility in Quebec City, he said.
Ottawa is also investing $18.2 million in a potential vaccine from British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems. Meanwhile, the National Research Council is spending $23 million to support other Canadian vaccine initiatives, Trudeau said.
The prime minister said Canada has signed six agreements with a number of companies taking part in the global race to produce a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 .
Two more American vaccine makers, Moderna and Pfizer, have asked Health Canada to review their products, which are undergoing clinical trials.
The prime minister also said Canada has acquired “hundreds of thousands” of rapid test kits from medical company Abbott. Trudeau said his government has started distributing the kits to provinces and territories, and it will be up to those authorities to decide how to deploy them.
But new innovations and investments will only prove effective in the fight against the COVID-19 contagion if Canadians do their part to curb the spread, Trudeau said.
Canada’s chief public health officer told reporters Friday that a record 2,788 new illnesses were reported Thursday, bringing the country’s total count to just over 209,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 9,800 deaths.
Dr. Theresa Tam said authorities need the public’s help to rein in infection rates through practices such as limiting in-person contacts, wearing masks and physical distancing.
Meanwhile, a Quebec health institute released projections Friday suggesting that province’s health system should have the capacity to handle the number of COVID-19 patients expected to need care in the next four weeks.
Quebec is reporting 905 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths from the illness.
Ontario also reported 826 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and nine new deaths linked to the virus.
Manitoba reported a total of 163 new infections Friday, most concentrated in Winnipeg, and the positivity rate is now up to 6.5 per cent. The province also said a man in his 80s is the latest death linked to an outbreak at Winnipeg’s Parkview Place that has killed a total of 15 people.
New Brunswick is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region, which is one of two areas that saw significant outbreaks two weeks ago.
Newfoundland and Labrador is asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 7484 from Toronto to Deer Lake on Oct. 12 to get tested in relation to a new COVID-19 case announced on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.
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