(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains on Friday defended their decision to end temporary wage increases for grocery store workers during COVID-19 on the same day, even though the companies had exchanged “courtesy” calls and emails.

The House of Commons standing committee on industry, science and technology grilled executives from Loblaw Companies Ltd., Empire Co. Ltd. and Metro Inc. about why they stopped paying a temporary wage bump to employees as of June 13.

All three executives say the companies reached their decisions independently based on numerous factors that for some included knowing a competitor’s plan.

Loblaw president Sarah Davis says she sent what she called a “courtesy email” to some competitors when Loblaw decided to initiate their pandemic pay program, and again on June 11 when it chose to end the program.

READ MORE: Unions tell MPs that grocery workers should still have pandemic pay

Metro CEO Eric La Fleche says his company was aware of Loblaw’s decision when the company decided to end its premium pay program, but that it was one of several influencing factors.

Empire CEO Michael Medline says he had not received Davis’s email when his company, which owns the Sobeys and Safeway brands, made its decision to terminate the extra wages, but had heard through the grapevine that the company was considering doing so.

Those who sent emails and made phone calls say they consulted with company counsel before doing so and lawyers were present during at least one phone discussion.

Davis says she received a reply to the June 11 email, and would provide copies of the original and all answers to the committee.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Michele Babchuk with Premier John Horgan and Clerk of the Legislature Katy Ryan-Lloyd. (BC Legislature)
Babchuk sworn in to B.C.’s 42nd Legislature

Oath ceremony held with MLAs connecting through video

Over 6,000 customers were affected by the power outage that started on Nov. 17. (BC Hydro photo)
BC Hydro crews worked 16 hour days to turn the North Island’s power back on

BC Hydro runs one transmission line to Northern Vancouver Island so there was no backup line.

U’mista Cultural Centre is closed to the public until further notice, as of Nov. 23, 2020. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
U’mista closed until further notice due to new restrictions

North Island on high alert against COVID-19

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Beaver Creek RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau, left to right, Gary Bath, Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault and Tim Marchessault pose in this recent handout photo near the Canada-U.S. border crossing near Beaver Creek, Yukon. A family reunion trip for the woman from Georgia that left them stranded ended on a bright note when Bath drove them to the Alaskan border following an appeal for help. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Gary Bath *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Help from B.C. man allows American family to reunite in Alaska

Lynn Marchessault drove from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in U.S. military

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

Most Read