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Quebec candidates and party leaders must protect jobs and prioritize essential supply chains
Created on 9/20/2022 10:26:04 AM

Written by Michael Graydon, CEO of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Published on September 15, 2022

With Quebec’s election day fast approaching, Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP) is making a clear push to ensure our political leaders and candidates understand the urgent need to prioritize the province’s essential food, health and grocery manufacturing and supply chains.

The importance of Quebec for essential food, health, and grocery supplies here in Canada and around the world cannot be overstated. As an agricultural powerhouse, the province is a leading producer of dairy, pork, fruit, and much more. And it goes without saying that a particular point of pride is Quebec’s status as producer of more than 70% of the world’s maple syrup.

Beyond providing food families rely on every day, this active and diverse sector employs more than 69,000 Quebecers at more than 1,700 establishments across the province. Yet, these jobs and the long-term health of the sector are threatened by long-standing constraints that include: skyrocketing costs of doing business, unnecessarily burdensome regulations, fines and fees imposed by large grocers, lack of access to self-care tools and resources, as well as worsening labour and skills gaps.

The last several years of challenges, some more unexpected than others, have revealed the extent of damage done by these constraints. Our supply chains are not as resilient as they should be. Individual interruptions or delays can create ripples that add up to massive disruptions.

In the third year of the COVID pandemic and facing new challenges like the consequences of the war in Ukraine, business is still far from normal.

FHCP members report their input costs are up an average of 23% since 2021, tracking with general global trends of significant inflation in the cost of goods and services. In this complex inflationary environment, some factors are outside government’s control - for example, extreme weather that has damaged crops and driven up the cost of agricultural commodities or increased transportation costs caused by backups at ports around the world.

However, the government and stakeholders here in Quebec and across all Canada do have the ability to mitigate other factors that unnecessarily increase costs for companies and, ultimately, consumers. For example, complex regulations are unnecessarily burdensome and costly, often without proven benefits for health, safety, or other consumer protections.

Behaviour by Canada’s largest grocery retailers also poses a significant concern. Fees and fines imposed on suppliers, as well as on farmers, can dramatically increase costs, harming innovation, value, and choice.

FHCP’s priorities for Quebec’s leaders, available in our election platform here: call for political candidates and party leaders to:

  • Implement a mandatory Supply Code of Practice with a broad scope that prevents large retailers from imposing unilateral changes, fees, and fines on suppliers. Unfair practices by the five large grocers who control more than 80% of grocery and drug store sales pose a serious threat to ‘Made in Canada’ manufacturing, as well as to Canadian farmers. The scope of products must include all impacted products in a typical grocery basket to be effective.
  • Adopt a National Self-Care Strategy that supports investment and innovation in self-care as a complement to the publicly-funded healthcare system. According to the World Health Organization, strengthening self-care reduces costs and increases healthcare quality, access, and equity.
  • Support a circular economy for plastics. Industry and government share the goals of building a circular economy and efficiently transitioning Quebec’s Blue Box program to full producer responsibility. To achieve these goals, industry requires the support and collaboration of a proactive, engaged partner in a government committed to keeping plastics in the economy but out of the environment, creating new domestic jobs, reducing emissions, and eliminating value lost from unrecovered materials.

We look forward to continuing to work with Quebec to prioritize essential manufacturing that provides the products Quebecers, Canadians, and families around the world rely on every day.

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