Report on rising food costs fails to account for carbon tax, says critic

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The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food has published its report on the cost of food in Canada. The report, titled “Grocery affordability: Examining rising food costs in Canada,” lists 13 recommendations, including calling for a grocery code of conduct, adding a possible “windfall tax” on grocery chains, and ways to address food waste.

John Barlow, Conservative MP for Foothills and critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food, says the report includes key findings regarding competition in the grocery sector though is perhaps missing the “Ah ha!” moment many were hoping for in regards to grocery profit-taking.

Grocery chain representatives presented to the committee that their profit margin on food is 4 per cent, but Barlow says they won’t further break down where company profits come from.

“Certainly, there has to be more transparency and more clout for the Competition Bureau to be able to dig into the numbers,” Barlow says.

Barlow says that the Conservatives plant to answer this report with their own dissenting report, something that is not done often, because the Liberals and NDP did not include the impacts of the carbon tax on food inflation and food costs.

With the Canada food price index forecasting a 34 per cent increase in food over the next two years, Canadians deserve an explanation, says Barlow. “Those are staggering numbers. So if you really want to be honest about what those costs are, and where they’re coming from, we have to discuss all of the issues.”

Barlow calls the Liberals and NDP voting down the recommendation to study the impact the carbon tax has on food prices and the supply chain as “disingenuous,” and a decision made on ideology, not on data.

“I think we could could have dug a little deeper, but some interesting revelations came out of it for sure,” he says.

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