Guest column: Hero pay for grocery store employees was never going to end well

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Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro employ more than 500,000 Canadians. Such a workforce requires strategic coordination.

The two-hour session was simply painful. If it were a TV show, it would have been called “The Empress, The Player, and The Annoyed.” Davis, the Empress, stayed on point, despite the committee’s efforts to throw her off her game. While Medline played along as best he could, Laflèche was clearly irritated by the entire thing.

Based on the tone of some of the remarks made by committee members, it is difficult to understand what was accomplished in two hours. There was no attempt to fully understand how food distribution works in Canada. At least, it was not apparent.

Most importantly, it was not clear why only three companies were called to testify the cancellation of their COVID-19 pay programs, while no other companies such as Walmart or Save-On-Foods were summoned to testify.

Retailers who did not offer any sort of pay premium were not summoned either.

Many questions suggested that MPs suspected grocers were colluding. Fixing bread prices, which occurred over 14 years is one thing, but talking amongst grocers is something totally different.

It is not illegal for grocers to talk amongst themselves. Farmers, processors, wholesalers and grocers around the world do it all the time. It is called co-opetition.

Many companies which compete against each other face similar challenges these days and need to share information, courteously.