Vancouver Island MP’s private members bill to address shrinkflation

Vancouver Island MP's private members bill to address shrinkflation

The Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford is hoping his new bill will bring more clarity around shrinkflation, when a producer sells less product for the same price.

If you go to any grocery store these days you’ll find shoppers who say they aren’t getting the same bang for their buck.

“Pretty upset, kind of irritating. We work really hard for everything that we have,” said Krissy Blyan, a shopper in Nanaimo.

Blyan says she’s certainly noticed it.

“The kids granola bars mostly. The kids cereals. Pretty much anything that has to do with the kids meals and food and things like that,” she said. “Almost everything.”

That’s in part why Alistair MacGregor, the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, introduced a private members bill to establish a national framework to improve food price transparency.

“This legislation will require the minister of industry in consultation with the provinces to develop a national framework on grocery pricing, unit display practices, transparency on price increases and promoting unit pricing education to consumers across Canada,” said MacGregor as he introduced the bill to parliament Wednesday.

But McGregor’s bill on shrinkflation won’t find support from all MP’s.

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In a statement, the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition says “The costly Liberal-NDP government provided tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to massive grocery chains that are making billions off Canadians while they are struggling to put food on the table. Instead of supporting common sense Conservative efforts to axe the carbon tax on groceries and gas…”

Vancouver Island University’s chair of the Finance and Quantitative Methods Faculty says there’s often a reason why products go up in price.

“Because of worldwide inflation in certain commodities, so the things that made individuals much more sensitive to inflation are exactly the same things that are affecting companies’ commodities, such as wheat because of the Ukraine,” said Charles Schell.

Schell says a number of countries and other jurisdictions have standardized unit pricing.

“I think that would be a good place to start,” he said.

But he warns any measures should be carefully considered as they could create more bureaucracy.

In a statement, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada says the ministry has overseen the most significant overhaul of competition legislation in 30 years, which addressed curbing excessive profits, strengthening competition law and facilitating fair market access.

“Additionally, back in October…we enhanced the capacity of the Office of Consumer Affairs by establishing the Grocery Task Force, a dedicated team with a focus on the retail sector. Its priority is to monitor, on a monthly basis, the grocers’ commitments and actions taken by other key players in the food industry, including manufacturers, as well as investigate and uncover practices that hurt consumers, such as ‘shrinkflation’ and ‘dequaliflation,'” said Audrey Milette.

MacGregor’s bill passed first reading and will be considered at the next sitting of parliament in the fall.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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