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Grocery shoplifting mounting across Canada amid inflation, labour shortages: experts

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Shoplifting has surged to an alarming level across Canada, industry insiders say, with inflation and labour shortages cited as major factors behind the increase.

The uptick has triggered concern among Canadian grocers even as the rise in food prices helps pad their bottom lines. Grocery prices were up 11 per cent year-over-year in October and they’re not expected to ease any time soon. The total cost of groceries for a family of four is expected to be $1,065 more than it was this year, according to the most recent edition of Canada’s Food Price Report.

Inflation in food prices is one of the main drivers pushing more people to steal, says Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

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“There is a correlation between the two, absolutely. Theft is an ongoing issue. But the intensity actually does increase when food prices go up,” he said, noting that meat and dairy products are the top two stolen items.

He warned the problem may grow if the economy slows down next year as some economists suggest.

“If you see both food prices go up and … the economy slows down, jointly that is when you basically see even more stuff.”

Charlebois said inflation and grocery theft are affecting one another, meaning when prices go up, shoplifting surges, and to offset the loss, businesses have no other option but to further increase the prices.

“Theft will cost everyone more because someone has to pay for that (stolen) food,” he said. “You and I pay for theft.”

Felicia Fefer, corporate affairs manager at Walmart Canada, said the retail giant has seen a historic uptick in theft.

“Retail crime, including theft and arson, is sadly higher than it historically has been at Walmart Canada and across the entire retail industry,” she said.

“This is very concerning for our business, our associates, our customers and the industry.”

Fefer said the company is implementing measures to prevent and reduce theft in order to keep prices low and keep its employees and customers safe.

Metro and Loblaw both declined to comment on the matter, referring The Canadian Press to the Retail Council of Canada. Sobeys did not respond to a request for comment.

Labour shortages are also contributing to the surge in shoplifting, said Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“There is great concern among Canadian businesses right now about crime, and crime in Canadian workplaces,” he said. “Shoplifting is definitely being felt more, especially as we’ve come out of lockdown and restrictions.”

Kelly said some grocers are struggling to recruit new staff, and when businesses don’t have enough employees to perform physical monitoring, they could be in a vulnerable position.

“If you have fewer people on the storefront, if you know if you have one person deep in the business at the back cash desk,” he said, “it does lead to the business being a bit of a robbery target.

“Fewer people on the floor … makes shoplifters feel a little less intimidated to go in and take something,” he said, adding that employees and customers alike feel more “intimidated and nervous” walking into the stores.

As a result, more retail stores, even smaller ones, are hiring security guards including off-duty police officers. They are also taking other steps such as retrofitting to make sure they have clearer sightlines within the business, using more electronic monitoring technology, and limiting the number of people in the store so they can provide one-to-one service.

As customers who shopped more online during the pandemic return to stores, an uptick in retail crime has been seen across Canada, says Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokesperson for Retail Council of Canada.

She pointed to the economic downturn, a growing resale market for stolen goods and an increase in organized crime as other factors behind the surge.

While it is difficult to know the exact impact of theft on local businesses because much of crime goes unreported, the council’s estimates suggest retail crime cost $5 billion in losses in 2019 in Canada.

Wasylyshen said the council isn’t collecting data on whether there is any connection between inflation and shoplifting, but “theft tends to spike during economic downturns.”

“We also know that break-ins, armed robberies, and physical and especially violent incidents are higher than they have been in previous years,” she said.

Greeting customers as they enter to acknowledge their presence and keeping surplus inventory off the store floor could be effective loss prevention strategies for stores, Wasylyshen said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2022.

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Majority of Canadians support private options for health care, poll shows – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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As some provinces turn to the private sector to address pressures in the healthcare system, a new poll suggests more Canadians than ever are open to the idea of private delivery of healthcare.

The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News between Jan. 19 and Jan. 23, 2023, found 59 percent of the 1,001 adults surveyed expressed support for the private delivery of publicly-funded health services.

Sixty percent of respondents were also in favor of private health care for those who can afford it.

Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, says in the 30 years he has studied public opinion in Canada, he has never seen such a shift in support toward privatization.

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“This is the first time I can recall in which you actually got numbers like that, where you’d have a majority of Canadians saying they’re open to considering private methods of delivery,” he told Global News.

Until now, maintaining Canada’s public health-care system has been a “cornerstone” of Canadian politics and any mention of privatization has been met with strong resistance — even repulsion — and has elicited fears of moving toward an American-style system of access, he said.

But given that a vast majority of Canadians surveyed, 85 percent, now say they believe “drastic changes” are needed in the health system to meet the needs of the community, attitudes toward privatization appear to be shifting, Bricker said.

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4.2-magnitude earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., felt in southern Ontario

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An earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2, was “lightly felt” in parts of southern Ontario Monday morning, according to Earthquakes Canada.

“I woke up to it,” St. Catharines, Ont. resident Stephen Murdoch told CBC Hamilton.

Murdoch said his house shook around 6:15 a.m. ET.

“I felt what I guess you would consider a small jolt and continuous shaking …. about 15 to 20 seconds,” he said.

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The federal agency says it doesn’t expect any damage would come from the reported earthquake, but said as of roughly 8 a.m., there were more than 200 reports of people in southern Ontario feeling the rumble, including in Hamilton, the Greater Toronto Area and as far as Quinte West, Ont., near Belleville.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. says the earthquake occurred in West Seneca, N.Y. and labelled it a 3.8-magnitude quake some three kilometres beneath the surface.

Musician Rich Jones said he felt the rumble in Hamilton.

“My dog started barking and the bed was shaking for a few seconds. Never felt an earthquake here before. Wild,” Jones tweeted.

Earthquakes Canada last recorded an earthquake in Ontario in the Greater Sudbury area on Jan. 22, measuring 2.8 magnitude.

Earthquakes are generally caused by large segments of the earth’s crust, called tectonic plates, continuously shifting, according to Earthquakes Canada.

The Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone has a low to moderate amount of seismicity when compared to the more active seismic zones to the east, along the Ottawa River and in Quebec.

“It’s an incredible event to live through … I can’t imagine the ones of greater magnitude,” Murdoch said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of discussion at water coolers across Buffalo and southern Ontario in terms of what happened this morning.”

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Uber brings back ride share for Canada

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Uber has brought back its ride-sharing option in select Canadian cities — but under a new name. Officially launched this week, the company is calling UberX Share, its “most affordable option” for commuters who want to make “greener” and more “sustainable” choices.

Available across Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the UberX Share will allow passengers to travel together and split their fares.

Previously known as UberPOOL, the service was paused in Toronto in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Uber said it’s been “working tirelessly to revamp the experience.”

“We know affordability plays a role when people are making decisions on how to get from point A to B,” said Michael van Hemmen, general manager of Uber Canada mobility, in a statement Sunday.

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“This new shared rides option will provide a more affordable and sustainable experience for riders and the cities we serve.”

How is UberX different than UberPOOL?

In the past, UberPOOL was known to sometime deviate from a direct route and take more time than public transit, but the company now argues the new feature will only add an average of six minutes to a trip when matched.

Riders will also receive an upfront discount of up to 20 per cent if they choose UberX Share.

“UberX Share provides a greener way to get from A to B, by moving more people with fewer cars to help your city avoid extra emissions and car travel by sharing your ride,” Uber said.

Click to play video: 'UberEats indulges in high times, will make cannabis deliveries'

UberEats indulges in high times, will make cannabis deliveries

When it comes to the drivers, the company says UberX Share will give them more choices while earning the same recommended rates with UberX Share as they would with UberX but with more riders on a trip.

“A shared trip is likely to be longer and that means a higher fare. There will be a $1 pickup incentive for the driver when picking up a second rider,” Uber added.

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