Every step along the way, you’ve seen companies take advantage of the crisis of the pandemic and everything that came after it to make money while the sun was shining and we’re paying for it.
Part of the problem starts in the energy industry, you know that agriculture is an energy-intensive industry. They pay a lot for higher fuel prices, which have translated into enormous profits in the energy industry.
Then you’ve got the food processors who’ve added their own profit margin.
Transportation is another industry where companies have taken advantage of the supply shocks after the pandemic to fatten their own profit margins.
And then you’ve got the supermarkets themselves. Supermarket profits have more than doubled since before the pandemic, and they’re staying high. Even though Canadians are literally buying less groceries because they can’t afford it.
The dominant narrative has been: too many Canadians are working and they’re making too much money, this is why we have inflation. That is the explicit storyline from the Bank of Canada. And it makes no sense at all, especially in regards to food prices.
If you went down to the parking lot at Loblaws, and told people who just paid $200 for a cart of groceries, “You know why it’s so expensive? Because too many of you are working and your wages are too high.” They’d chase you out of the lot.
This is more of a profit-price spiral that we’re seeing in Canada, not the wage-price spiral of the 1970s, but a problem where companies and a whole range of industries have really taken advantage of the vulnerability of Canadians to increase their profits.
There’s a range of measures [that could be taken]. In some cases, price caps would make a lot of sense. We regulate some energy prices, we could have regulated more. Excess profit taxes on companies like the energy companies, the banks, the supermarkets who have generated record profits through this crisis and then redistribute those funds to help Canadians pay for their groceries.