Focus and anger turning to BC billionaire over sky-high grocery prices

There is growing unrest against the cost of groceries in Canada, and more and more movements are popping up, vowing to take on the mega companies behind the country’s grocery chains.

Here in Vancouver, that anger has made its way to the streets after posters began popping up shaming one of BC’s richest men and calling on him to crack down on the prices we see in stores.

Jim Pattison protest photo

United in Struggle

The sky-high prices on some items have made headlines, and that’s led some angry Canadians to organize protests and action groups across the country, primarily against Loblaws, which owns the Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, and No Frills.

But BC’s own Jim Pattison is also getting a spotlight in this fight. The group United in Struggle began flyering East Vancouver with Pattison’s photo and organizing a monthly protest to gather members to speak out.

Their meetings are called the East Vancouver Workers’ Assembly (EVWA), which aims to bring “workers across different industries together, where we speak about our shared struggles and build unity around how to combat them.”

The group told Daily Hive its mission is to create a multinational socialist confederacy. While they don’t consider their gatherings a protest, they do have objectives.

Jim Pattison poster 2

“We use posters … to agitate around our enemy, billionaire business owners who are making mass profits while the majority of us struggle to afford essentials, such as food and rent. We build on this agitational work by bringing workers to the Assembly to talk about what our next steps are,” a group spokesperson told Daily Hive.

Last month’s event was fairly small, and there were no reports of any traffic disruptions, but as the looming Loblaws protest nears, there are questions about a homegrown movement against Save on Foods and its parent company Jim Pattison Food Group, which is Western Canada’s largest supplier of food and health products.

We reached out to the Jim Pattison Food Group for a comment on the unrest but did not receive a response in time for the deadline.

United in Struggle says they are planning another April event, but many don’t seem to be waiting to speak out on this topic.

According to a recent Reddit thread, people are taking to social media to address what they describe as price gouging and are calling on others to boycott the stores.

“I’m in BC and we don’t have as many Loblaw’s as the east but we do have an abundance of grocery stores owned by the [Pattison] group. They are honestly just as bad price-wise and the other big grocery chain monopoly in Canada. Save-On-Foods is especially terrible, but most of these have ridiculous prices and have for a long time. Anyone else noticed this? It’s almost as if the two big monopolies are price-matching each other, a lot like our telecoms do with cell phone plans. Both gouge people,” one person wrote online, saying they would be boycotting these stores as well.

Boycotting Pattison Group stores in solidarity
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However, while some appear to agree, others suggested that battling Pattison and Loblaws wasn’t the best plan.

“Whoa there cowboy. Let’s fight one battle at a time. Opening a war on two fronts is a bad idea,” they wrote.

Another added that they wouldn’t have anywhere to shop.

“[One] at a time. If I boycott both Weston and Pattison there’s literally nowhere I could shop within five miles for certain items. Wal-Mart isn’t going to be any better. Costco is ok for many items but not realistic for accessibility (hours, product availability, etc.) So if we focus on Weston first maybe the others will get the idea and start reducing prices knowing they’re next if they don’t,” they wrote.

“So where are people supposed to get food from? I can’t speak for others, but I’m really bad at photosynthesis,” another chided.

What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments below.

With files from Amir Ali and Beth Rochester