(London) The Trudeau government wants to bring the big supermarket chains into line. The bosses of the five industry giants are meeting next week in Ottawa to discuss a plan that will lead to lower food prices… or risk being tamed with tax measures. In addition to starting this project, the Prime Minister dusted off on Thursday an old promise from 2015: the abolition of the GST for the construction of rental housing.
The issue is causing a lot of discussion. And in Ottawa, we want to open the discussion with the leaders of the five grocery giants. On the menu: a consultation with a view to developing a plan to find a way to reduce the price of the grocery basket between now and Thanksgiving and its turkey.
“The inflation rate has fallen, but the bill is still too high for food. Meanwhile, major grocery chains are making record profits. These profits should not be made on the backs of people who earn it to feed their families,” lamented the Prime Minister.
And if they fail to propose satisfactory solutions, the Trudeau government intends to act.
Let me be very clear: if their plan does not provide real relief (…), well, we will take action. We are not excluding anything, including tax measures.
Because “enough is enough!” », exclaimed the minister to whom the Prime Minister entrusted responsibility for taming the grocers, François-Philippe Champagne. He intends to study international initiatives, including if necessary that of France, which has imposed a freeze on thousands of products.
“The French formula works in certain cases, but in Canada, the market is different (…) and there are different organizational structures,” he explained on the microphone. The minister also wants to avoid this negatively affecting “small grocers, employees, small producers”.
In addition to these two flagship measures, the government will make changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account, a measure adopted during the pandemic to help small businesses stay afloat, by extending the deadline for repayment of term loans.
A promise from 2015 for 2023
The second measure unveiled Thursday, the abolition of the GST on the construction of buildings intended for rental, is a recycled promise: the measure fell by the wayside in 2016, under the pretext that there were “more efficient ways of ‘encourage the construction’ of this type of building.
The Prime Minister denied having taken too long to act and thus contributed to the housing crisis which is hitting the entire country. “The situation we were experiencing eight years ago was different (…) In 2016, it was determined that Financing the Construction of Rental Housing (…) was the right program at the right time. »
“But today, given the level of interest rates, and the challenges that people are facing, we realize that it is the right time” to move forward with this measure, he said. he added, inviting provinces and territories to follow suit by removing their tax.
Already, Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador have contacted the Minister of Housing, Sean Fraser, to tell him that they will imitate the federal government. In the office of the Minister of Finance of Quebec, Eric Girard, “we are analyzing the proposal,” indicated his press secretary, Claudia Loupret.
Housing Minister Sean Fraser did not provide a specific target for the number of new housing units that could be built thanks to this tax relief. ” It is not possible ; there are pressures in the market, factors which (fluctuate) over the weeks, years, months,” he explained.
Criticisms from the opposition were quick to come: New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the Liberals for being slow to act, while Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre promised to table a draft bill on Monday. law aimed at curbing the municipal bureaucracy.
Towards the start of the parliamentary term
These announcements were made in the presence of the entire Liberal delegation, who applauded their general wholeheartedly at the end of two days of a caucus in London, Ontario, where the question of Justin Trudeau’s leadership was monopolized the attention.
The House of Commons resumes its work next Monday, after a summer which was characterized by the rise of a revamped Pierre Poilievre in the polls. The Liberals, whose retention in power is ensured by the agreement linking them to the New Democrats, have signaled that they do not want elections in the short term.