Connect with us


The grocery price freeze is over — so brace yourself for even bigger food bills soon



The holiday price freeze put in place by some of Canada’s biggest grocery chains has hit its expiry date, so shoppers should brace themselves for news that could be hard to swallow: get ready for your food bill to go up. By a lot. Again.

Loblaws made headlines last fall when it announced it would freeze prices on hundreds of its in-house No Name brand through the holiday season. The grocery chain pitched the plan as a salvo for cost-conscious shoppers hit hard by high inflation, but people in the industry quickly panned it as little more than a publicity stunt, since grocery chains typically implement similar price freezes over that period, refusing to accept any price hikes from their suppliers during the critical shopping season.

  • Have a question about the rising cost of food or personal stories to share? Email: or join us live in the comments now.

Loblaws pledged in October that No Name-branded grocery staples wouldn’t see price increases until the end of January at least. It’s now February, and the chain told CBC News in a statement this week that it plans to keep prices where they are “wherever possible” but warned that many prices may well go up in the coming weeks.

“Once the price freeze ends, customers can expect some prices may increase, but as mentioned originally, we will continue to hold most of our No Name prices flat,” spokesperson Catherine Thomas said. “The cost to stock our shelves has gone up, month after month.”


Montreal-based chain Metro sang a similar tune at its annual general meeting last month, with CEO Eric La Flèche telling reporters that the chain had received more than 27,000 requests from its suppliers last year to raise prices by more than 10 per cent. That’s more than three times the normal level.

“There are cost increases coming, and we expect that some of these cost increases will be reflected at retail,” he told reporters at a media briefing on Jan. 24. “We are going to do our best to make sure that price increases are gradual and progressive to protect prices as much as possible [but] unfortunately, inflation is continuing.”

Frito-Lay hiking prices in Canada by 10%

Snack giant Frito-Lay is among those upping the pressure. The U.S. company, which is owned by Pepsi, has raised the prices on its products in Canada by 10 per cent, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

Spokesperson Gary Sands told CBC News in a statement that though he doesn’t speak for major chains like Metro, Loblaws and Halifax-based Sobey’s, the nearly 7,000 small businesses the group represents are in no position to swallow that cost increase.

“If you are an independent grocer on very tight margins, around two per cent, and you get handed double-digit increases in any product, you have no choice but to pass it on,” he said.

Shoppers like Palaash Tiwari know all too well that prices keep going up. Shopping for food in Toronto on Wednesday, Tiwari told CBC News that he’s made major changes to his diet in recent months, like buying less and cheaper types of meat, trying to save money where he can. He’s also basically stopped going out to restaurants because of the prohibitive cost.

“People have to make choices on what they want to consume,” he said. “People need to find their own alternative.”


What the end of the price freeze means for your grocery bill


Major grocery chains say shoppers should expect even higher prices for food in the coming weeks. Shoppers on the streets of Toronto told CBC News what that might mean for their food budget.

Why fresh produce is so pricey

Of course, not every type of food is going up at the same pace.

Statistics Canada data released this week shows that a slew of grocery items have seen double-digit price increases, beyond what is normal during winter months. The retail price of tomatoes has gone from $4.57 a kilogram in October to $6.99 in December — an eye-watering increase of more than 52 per cent in just two months.

Celery and grapes are almost as bad, with price increases of 49 and 46 per cent, respectively, in only two months. And foods like apples, broccoli and iceberg lettuce aren’t far behind.

Most of the biggest increases right now are in fresh fruits and vegetables, and there’s a very good reason for that, according to Mike von Massow, a food economist at the University of Guelph.

“If you look out your window there’s snow on the ground [so] we’re not producing … fruits and vegetables to a significant degree.”

Loblaws’s highly publicized price freeze over the holiday season was dismissed by many as little more than a publicity stunt. ( Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

Almost all the fresh produce Canadians consume in the winter comes through the U.S. either directly or indirectly, so that makes them subject to higher costs all along the supply chain. The transport costs alone are significant, but this year has seen major price hikes for things like tomatoes and lettuce because of what’s happening in the Salinas Valley in California.

Much of the North American lettuce crop comes from the region, which was hit by a virus in November that took a bite out of supply. Record-setting drought in the area in the fall was then followed by flooding last month, which played havoc on the supply of all kinds of water-intensive crops like celery, broccoli and grapes.

“What’s happening now is almost this perfect storm of issues which are creating upward pressure on almost everything,” von Massow said.

Relief in the spring?

It may be hard to see while perusing the aisles of the local grocery store, but von Massow can see relief coming just over the horizon for some of those relentless price increases.

“We’ll probably start seeing some relief in the spring as we get to the Canadian production season,” he said. “We won’t be as susceptible to imports which are being punished by the exchange rate and other things.”

Until then, shoppers like Ethena Dennie in Toronto will keep doing what they’ve been doing, shopping around for bargains, and replacing their usual staples with cheaper alternatives where possible.

“One lettuce is so expensive,” she told CBC News outside her local grocery store on Wednesday. “The doctor didn’t tell me to eat lettuce so I don’t have to buy it, so I just left it.

“The price is going up [but] my pay is not going up. It’s just staying at the same level.”


Source link

Continue Reading


Pierre Poilievre is neither for nor against the Liberals' industrial strategy. Quite the opposite – The Globe and Mail



Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre reads from last year’s budget as he rises during Question Period on March 29 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

You would think that a politician as hard-hitting as Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre would have something clear to say about the big initiatives that the federal government outlined in its budget.

But somehow the Leader of the Opposition can’t tell us whether he opposes the biggest thing in the Liberal budget.

He can’t say whether he is in favour of a massive, government-subsidized industrial strategy.


We’re not talking here about some baroque measure no one saw coming. We are talking about the largest feature in the government’s new fiscal blueprint.

In Tuesday’s budget, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined an enormous set of industrial subsidies for green technology that reduces emissions that will total $80-billion over the next decade.

This is an expenditure for industrial subsidies on a scale never before attempted in Canada. And we knew it was coming: The Liberal government signalled it was planning to respond to the huge subsidies in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. Ms. Freeland budgeted more new money for those subsidies over the next decade than for health care.

Most of that money is supposed to be spent five to 10 years from now, when there could well be another party in power, possibly under Mr. Poilievre. Companies making investment decisions this year will want to know if a potential prime minister is dead set against the whole idea. Canadians should want to know too.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Poilievre was neither for nor against. Quite the opposite.

Asked whether he is in favour of the hefty investment tax credits for things such as carbon capture and hydrogen, Mr. Poilievre said his Conservatives have been in favour of carbon capture for a long time.

So that’s a yes? Well, no, not exactly.

He said his Conservatives would “study what’s in the budget and we’re going to come up with our own election platform.” Apparently it will be a year or two before we know if Mr. Poilievre thinks that a massive program launched in the 2023 budget is a good step or a colossal waste of money.

Mr. Poilievre responded to those questions by talking about the long delays for approving projects like mines – which is a legitimate point but not an answer to the question of subsidies.

And then for a moment, he made it sound like he thinks the subsidies are an outrage. “I have no doubt that Justin Trudeau will stuff the pockets of foreign multinationals,” he said. That’s pretty biting, except for the fact that we’re not sure whether Mr. Poilievre is in favour of all that pocket-stuffing.

Certainly, no one should expect that the Conservatives would release all their policies in the platform now.

And of course there’s plenty of waffling in politics. On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau dodged questions of whether his government will ever balance the budget, to avoid admitting it never will. Mr. Poilievre refused to say whether the Conservative government would cancel a proposed dental plan.

But in this case the government of the day is launching a major subsidy program that will cost billions of dollars a year and is supposed to be the cornerstone of a decade-long industrial strategy, and key to climate-change policy, too.

The Official Opposition can’t take a pass on that for two years and claim that its mission is holding the government to account.

It can endorse the idea, but quibble over the details. Or it can oppose the very notion of pouring megabucks into subsidies.

It is evidently an uncomfortable issue for Mr. Poilievre. He has spent a lot of his time in politics railing against corporate handouts. He couldn’t help using that language on Wednesday.

But those subsidies also include a lot of money for carbon capture and storage in the oil patch that Alberta’s United Conservative Premier Danielle Smith wants. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford will be keen on the incentives for electricity and battery plants.

Yet there’s no way around it. This is the time when the issue is being decided, if only because the Liberals have tabled the budget with hulking piles of cash devoted to it. That will set Canada’s industrial policy on a course that is supposed to endure for a decade. An opposition leader should be able to tell us if he’s against it.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


As Canadians miss out on benefits, Ottawa promises automatic tax filing is on the way – BNN Bloomberg



The Canada Revenue Agency will pilot a new automatic system next year to help vulnerable Canadians who don’t file their taxes get their benefits.

This week’s federal budget says the Canada Revenue Agency will also present a plan in 2024 to expand the service, following consultations with stakeholders and community organizations. 

The move toward automatic tax filing, first promised in the 2020 speech from the throne, is one of several budget measures the Liberals say are meant to help Canadians with the cost of living.


Experts and advocates have called for automatic filing, noting many vulnerable Canadians miss out on benefits to which they are entitled.

Canadians are generally not required to file tax returns every year unless they owe money, but the federal government is increasingly relying on the Canada Revenue Agency to deliver income-tested benefits to individuals.

That includes Canada Child Benefit, as well as the recent top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and the temporary doubling of the GST tax credit.

A 2020 report co-authored by Jennifer Robson, an associate professor in political management at Carleton University, estimates 10 to 12 per cent of Canadians don’t file their taxes.

Although there were non-filers across all income groups, they were most heavily concentrated in lower income brackets.

The report estimated the value of benefits lost to working-age non-filers was $1.7 billion in 2015.

The federal budget also said the Canada Revenue Agency will expand access to a service set up in 2018 that allows some Canadians with lower or fixed incomes to auto-file simple returns over the telephone.

The budget says that two million Canadians will be eligible for that service, called “File My Return,” by 2025, which is nearly three times the number of people who can use it now.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


U.S. weekly jobless claims rise by 7k to 198000, gold price climbs – Kitco NEWS



Editor note Get all the essential market news and expert opinions in one place with our daily newsletter. Receive a comprehensive recap of the day’s top stories directly to your inbox. Sign up here!

(Kitco News) The initial weekly jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 198,000 the week to Saturday, surprising the markets with a bigger-than-expected increase.

Economists’ consensus calls projected the initial claims to advance to 196,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 191,000.


The four-week moving average for new claims – often viewed as a more reliable measure of the labor market since it flattens week-to-week volatility – climbed by 2,000 to 198,250. The previous week’s four-week moving average was unrevised at 196,250, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday.

Continuing jobless claims, representing the number of people already receiving benefits, were at 1,689,000 during the week ending March 18, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1,685,000. The previous week’s level was revised down by 9,000.

The four-week moving average was at 1,691,750, an increase of 10,000. And the previous week’s four-week moving average was revised down by 2,250 to 1,681,750.

Traders watch the jobless claims data very closely to gauge its impact on the Federal Reserve’s employment side of the monetary policy mandate.

Gold ticked up to daily highs and then gave up some of those gains, with June Comex gold futures last trading at $1,990.60 an ounce, up 0.31% on the day.

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading