‘A step forward’: Federal, provincial governments to investigate grocery store fees on suppliers

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“We want to make sure that those smaller enterprises can remain healthy,” he added.

Graydon said it was “ideal” that the working group would be led by a federal and a provincial minister.

The federal government has determined that regulating terms of sale between supermarkets and suppliers is outside its jurisdiction, but has encouraged the provinces to address the issue.

But advocates have warned that any effective response from the provinces would have to be in lockstep, since the food supply chain stretches across the country.

“If there is anything significant to take place, it will require federal-provincial co-operation,” Graydon said. “We should be in good shape.”

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the trade group that represents supermarket chains, was unable to comment before press time Friday night.

“RCC cannot comment until we’ve had the opportunity to review the outcome of the meeting in question,” spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen said in an email.

The fees aren’t the only reason supermarkets have come under scrutiny lately.

At least one member of Parliament has been calling for the Competition Bureau to investigate the big grocers over their decisions to cut pandemic pay bonuses for their staff on the same day.

On Friday, the bureau released a statement clarifying its position on wage fixing and other “buy-side agreements” — meaning agreements between competitors that drive down the cost on the inputs that businesses buy, such as labour, rather than what they sell.

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