People protest ‘greedflation’ outside Freeland’s Toronto office

Feb 15, 2024 | GTA/Local News, News

By Anusha Siddiqui, Ankur Gupta

People protested high food prices last Saturday outside Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office in Toronto.

The small protest was organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an independent national organization of low and moderate-income people.

ACORN member Stacey Semple said the protest was to draw the attention of the public, grocers and the government to “outrageous” food prices.

“The government should be helping us more than feeding their corporate greed. The prices of groceries especially, and the food banks are in a crisis,” Semple said.

Rama Fayaz, chairperson of ACORN’s downtown chapter, said it has become impossible for people with lower incomes to afford food.

“We are gathered here to protest against supermarket chains that are making high and excessive profits out of selling food with high prices,” he said.

He said protestors are demanding an immediate tax on the rich to stop price gouging, a cap on the price of essential food items and an end to the oligopoly in the food and grocery industry.

The protestors dropped letters at Freeland’s office “to assign a budget for lowering the food prices and to stop the supermarket chains from price gouging.”

“Federal government needs to have higher taxes on the supermarket chains,” Fayaz said.

The federal government announced $5 million in new funding to investigate rising grocery and food prices on Feb. 6.

In this new funding, $99 million has been announced to support rent affordability.

Members of ACORN holding placards and a banner at the protest site on Bloor Street last Saturday.

Members of ACORN held placards and a banner at the protest site on Bloor Street West last Saturday. Photo credit: Anusha Siddiqui


Semple said the funding is not enough and the government needs to do more by changing laws and holding grocers accountable for their prices.

“This is pennies, and we don’t even make pennies anymore. We all should have the right to eat and survive,” Semple said.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne said the funding will help investigate price inflation and harmful business practices such as “shrinkflation” and “skimpflation”.

Shrinkflation and skimpflation, somewhat new terms, are the practice of reducing the size of a product while maintaining the sticker price and the reduction in the quality and availability of service while the price remains the same, respectively.

The protesters held placards that demanded Fair Food for All, Food Security is a Human Right and called for an end to greedflation.

ACORN member, Olivia Baker-Sullivan said having lived in the US, Halifax and around Canada, Toronto is the most expensive city.

A member of ACORN, Olivia Baker holding a placard 'Bring more competition so grocers will stop eating us {our wallets)'

Olivia Baker, an ACORN member, holds a placard urging more competition among grocers. Photo credit: Anusha Siddiqui


“If you are focused on paying rent, you will not be able to spend so much on food and if you spend on food, you would not be able to pay rent,” she said.

Fayaz said food banks are struggling because of high food prices.

“Lines in front of the food banks have increased due to the increasing food prices, especially post-COVID,” he said.

Vishal Khanna, co-founder of Sai Dham Food Bank, said the number of people coming to the food banks has considerably increased over the last couple of years.

“The number of people using the facilities of the food bank have considerably increased, especially since COVID and inflation, which has made a huge impact,” he said.

Khanna said increasing food prices have impacted food bank donations.

“Our 90 per cent donations have dropped. We are struggling in terms of financial support and we need almost $3 million to sustain,” he said.