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National poll: Government should act to strengthen essential manufacturing and supply chains

September 15, 2021   Maryam Farag

According to national polling conducted by Abacus Data on behalf of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP), as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 82 per cent of Canadians better understand how essential food, health, and consumer goods are made, and 93 per cent want government to prioritize essential manufacturing, investment, and supply chains.

The new poll shows that Canadians think the top three most effective actions government could take are: forcing large grocery stores to reduce fines and fees charged to farmers and manufacturers (47 per cent), solving worker shortages (36 per cent), and reducing red tape (35 per cent).

Cost of living is a top election issue for most Canadians, and the poll details factors Canadians think most impact the price of food and other grocery items include increased transportation costs (69 per cent think increased transportation costs impact prices some or a great deal), labour shortages (67 per cent), the cost of COVID-19 protections in workplaces (64 per cent), the cost of ingredients (64 per cent), large grocery stores’ fines and fees imposed on suppliers and farmers (56 per cent), and government red tape (51 per cent).

“Canada’s high costs of doing business are bad for consumers, bad for our economy, and getting worse. With COVID-19 continuing to disrupt essential supply chains, Canadians clearly support prioritizing essential food, health, and consumer goods manufacturing, investment, and supply chains with effective government action like implementing a regulated, enforceable Grocery Supply Code of Conduct.” said Michael Graydon, CEO, FCHP.

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The polling results reinforce FHCP member data showing that overall costs of production have increased an average of 15 per cent compared to 2020, driven by increased costs associated with purchasing commodities/ingredients, transportation, labour, and fines/fees imposed by grocery retailers.

The poll supports FHCP’s election priorities published August 23, calling for all political parties and candidates to:

  • Strengthen competitiveness and promote innovation, including by reducing unnecessary red tape and addressing labour shortages. Statistics Canada data show labour costs in food processing alone increased 16 per cent from June/July 2019 to June/July 2020. FHCP data indicate 75 per cent of members are experiencing moderate to severe labour shortages, impacting their ability to supply product in Canada.
  • Implement a regulated, enforceable grocery supply code of conduct that prevents large grocery retailers from imposing unfair, unilateral changes, fines, and fees on farmers and manufacturers.
  • Adopt a national self-care strategy to improve Canadians’ access to information, products, and services necessary to practice self-care as a proven and cost-effective complement to our publicly funded healthcare system. Previous polling found that 96 per cent of Canadians think improving self-care is a good idea and 87 per cent support a national self-care strategy.