CFIG Continues to be the Voice of the Independents

By Tom Shurrie

The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) has been the unique voice for independents since 1962 and in 2022 the association celebrates its 60th anniversary. Here are key highlights of what CFIG has accomplished for its members.

CFIG led the fight over the years in maintaining pressure on government to bring forward reductions in interchange fees. The credit card companies, banks and payment processors, the three hands in your wallet, continue to levy fees higher than some other jurisdictions. Our efforts resulted in Visa lowering their grocery rates to 1.23 per cent and MasterCard to 1.22 per cent for independent grocers. In September 2018, Ottawa announced further reductions. An additional drop in the overall rate to 1.4 per cent — along with cuts to premium card rates, was implemented in September 2020. During the pandemic, with the migration away from cash – CFIG pressed for further reductions so that our members could have rates similar to those enjoyed by big business. In the April, 2021 budget, the Government of Canada pledged to do just that. Promising to see rates paid by small and medium size businesses brought to a level similar to what large corporate entities pay, a consultation process is now underway. Those fee reductions will result in savings of thousands of dollars per store and millions of dollars across the country for our members in the years ahead. A great return on your membership dues!   And if the promise to reduce rates for independent grocers to a level similar to big business is realized, that will be an achievement that will help to level the playing field in a critical area of your business – permanently.

Retail and supplier consolidation have in some cases distorted fair competitive practices in the food industry. CFIG has long advocated the creation of a Grocery Code of Conduct in Canada. The process to develop a Code is currently underway. While the discussions are confidential, CFIG members receive up to date information on these deliberations and will be among the first in industry to see the proposed Code, in late spring, 2022.

The Small Business Matters Coalition, led by CFIG, pushed for a small business tax reduction and further support for business investment. CFIG was invited to join the Prime Minister when the Federal government lowered the small business tax rate to nine per cent (now the lowest in the G7) effective in January 2019. As well, the government brought forward the ACCI which allows businesses to write off investments in the first year of purchase, as opposed to a multi-year write off.

When new labelling requirements were imposed on the food industry, CFIG won an exemption that means all products produced in-store or in a commissary for sale in a one-store operation, were exempted from nutritional and allergen labelling requirements, saving single grocers thousands of dollars annually. In January 2019, when the Safe Food for Canadians Act was proclaimed, CFIG’s efforts ensured that this exemption was maintained, saving independents $60,000 per store, per year.

During times of a crisis or emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or devastating floods in BC, CFIG is there to provide our members with important information and updates. As well, we ensure that governments and industry partners, are aware of any issues or questions being raised by our members so that we can get the answers you need, in your time of need.

As the Ontario government moves towards opening up the sale of beer and wine into all grocery stores in the province, CFIG is fighting to ensure fairness in the new framework. A system that in our view needs minimum pricing, increased margins and more flexibility for cross merchandising. Other measures that CFIG has already won include lower AGCO inspection fees (slashed for independents from $7,000 to $1,000) and exemption from providing a letter of credit. The discounted AGCO fees will save our members $6,000 per store, paying their CFIG membership many times over.

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