Toronto February 18th—Canada’s independent grocers, who account for close to $13 billion in sales, 6,900 stores across the country and employ an estimated 93,000 Canadians, are calling for protesters to end the rail blockade now, and as part of that process, that First Ministers convene a conference immediately with representatives of the First nations and the Hereditary Chiefs.
According to Gary Sands, Senior Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), our federation believes this kind of process is critical so that “we deal not only with the issue confronting us today, but that we find long-term solutions to avoid similar disruptions in the future.”
CFIG warns that the continued rail blockade, if not soon ended, will result in food shortages. According to Sands, “some of our retail members have already reported shortages, and others, including our manufacturing partners in the food industry, who in some areas, depend on rail for a high percentage of their supply, are expecting shortages very soon.”
Independent grocers are the lifeblood of a myriad of communities across Canada, particularly in rural Canada where large chains do not serve smaller communities. Independent grocers in Canada operate on margins of about 1 to 1.5% (lower than most other business sectors) and compete in an overly consolidated landscape that is dominated by large chains. The impact of a prolonged rail blockade will have a significantly deeper impact on those small- and medium-sized independent grocers than in many other industries.
Canada’s independent grocers also live in the communities that they serve, they buy local, support local initiatives and activities and hire local. But there is no doubt there will be shortages on grocery shelves, potential increased prices, reduced investment and potential layoffs in those same communities.
A small- and medium-sized independent grocer does not have the same access to corporate resources and support as a chain store, that would allow them to better withstand the economic impact of a prolonged rail blockade. So while CFIG recognizes the challenges that the Federal and Provincial governments, along with what the police face in trying to peacefully resolve this issue, the long term impact on Canada’s independent grocery sector, manufacturers in the food industry and the communities they represent, cannot be overstated.
We would urge all governments, both Federal and Provincial, to look at implementing a reduced fixed term federal and provincial business tax, and other compensatory measures, for small- and medium-sized businesses that can provide some relief for the disruption and inevitable losses that has been the result.
About The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers
The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) is a non-profit trade association founded in 1962, which continues to be a collaborative community, equipping and enabling independent, franchised and specialty grocers for sustainable success. CFIG is the strong and united voice for the independent grocery retailers to Industry and Government across Canada. CFIG also provides programs that support operational excellence while fostering solid relationships among retailers, distributors and suppliers. For more information on The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, visit www.cfig.ca.
Contact: Gary Sands, Sr VP,
Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers