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Documents reveal Ottawa's efforts to get Loblaw, Walmart on board with grocery code



Efforts by the Canadian government to establish a code of conduct for the grocery industry have hit a snag as major retailers Loblaw and Walmart appear hesitant to sign on, documents obtained through access to information legislation reveal.


The code aims to establish fair rules for negotiations between retailers and suppliers, along with a dispute resolution mechanism. However, concerns from Loblaw and Walmart about potential price increases have put the project at risk.


As early as last fall, government officials were aware of the reluctance from these retailers to commit fully to the code. Despite ongoing efforts to secure their participation, cracks began to show in the months leading up to a crucial House of Commons meeting.


During a December 7 committee session, leaders from Loblaw and Walmart expressed reservations about signing the code, citing fears of higher food prices. This reluctance has stalled progress on implementing the code and establishing a dedicated adjudicator office.


Efforts to address the concerns of Loblaw and Walmart have included discussions on potential modifications to the code's language to ensure clarity and fairness. While discussions continue, there's optimism that a solution can be reached.


However, proponents of the code argue against claims that it would lead to increased retail prices. They emphasize the need for government funding to support the implementation of the adjudicator office, with plans for self-sufficiency once established.


Government officials are closely monitoring industry discussions before deciding on further steps related to funding support. Meanwhile, there's a growing consideration of making the code mandatory through legislation if voluntary adoption proves insufficient.


Despite the challenges, stakeholders remain hopeful that a mutually agreeable solution can be found, ensuring fair practices and transparency within the grocery industry for the benefit of consumers and suppliers alike.


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