The federal government's committee on agriculture and agri-food has released a new report recommending 10 different methods which they believe can help with high food prices.

The Committee says they held seven meetings on efforts to stabilize food prices between 4 December 2023 and 27 February 2024, with the report summarizing the evidence provided during these meetings.

They recommended the following:

  1. The Committee, noting the particular importance of temporary foreign workers to the agriculture and agri-food sectors, recommends that the Government of Canada reduce the administrative burden associated with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and make permanent the Recognized Employer Pilot program that was put in place in Budget 2022.
  2. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada increase staffing and the regularity of inspections at the border to ensure compliance, and that the government require that imported products meet the same quality standards – including environmental, labour, and growing standards – as domestic products, while ensuring it respects its trade obligations.

  3. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada support the passage of Bill C‑234 unamended, as adopted by this committee.
  4. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada review its front-of-package labelling regulations to better balance its public health objectives with industry concerns over the cost of complying within the proposed timelines and the effect this will have on consumer food prices.

  5. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with industry to ensure that there are commercially available and affordable alternatives to Price Look-up (PLU) stickers and other primary plastic food packaging items before it implements its proposed pollution preventing planning notice.
  6. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada take the following actions to assist Canadians experiencing food insecurity: review the Nutrition North Program to ensure that it is meeting its mandate of providing affordable food to residents and that subsidies to retailers are being used appropriately, and re-evaluate the objectives of its 2017 Food Policy for Canada with a focus on food affordability.

  7. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada establish a process to engage with the provinces and territories in order to discuss the enactment of legislation applying the Grocery Code of Conduct while respecting their jurisdictions.
  8. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada consider implementing policies to effectively tackle excessive net profits in monopolistic and oligopolistic sectors in the food supply chain, which are driving up food prices for consumers and input costs for farmers.

  9. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada reinforce the competition law by making the following legislative changes: enact structural presumptions to simplify merger cases by shifting the burden onto the merging parties to prove why a merger that significantly increases concentration would not substantially lessen or prevent competition, revisit the remedy standard to provide that the Competition Tribunal’s remedial order ensure that remedies preserve the pre-merger state of competition to prevent merging parties to accumulate market power and harm the economy, examine the rules surrounding Competition Tribunal decisions, to ensure better alignment with the Competition Bureau's merger recommendations, and empower the Competition Tribunal to make an order dissolving a completed merger or prohibiting the merger from proceeding if the merger would result in excessive combined market share.

  10. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to pursue and advocate for additional competition within the Canadian grocery sector to stabilize and lower food prices, notably by identifying and removing barriers that prevent new companies from entering the marketplace.

In conclusion, the report found that high grocery prices affect the purchasing power, well-being, and food security of Canadian consumers. it also confirmed the need for such a grocery code of conduct and stressed the urgency of all parties to come together and fully commit to its current version.

In addition, the Committee heard from many witnesses that Canadian competition law should be strengthened to give the Competition Bureau more powers to prevent further consolidation and make the sector more competitive by creating a regulatory environment that facilitates the entry of new competitors such as independent and foreign grocers.