Advertisement

Coronavirus: Grocery store workers should be ‘properly’ paid, Trudeau says

Front-line workers demand wage increases, full-time hours even after pandemic is over
WATCH: Trudeau says 'hero' grocery store workers should be 'properly' paid

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said grocery store employees should be “properly supported and paid” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The people who step up in the midst of the most serious times to ensure Canadians can still put food on the table, that they get the deliveries they need, that shelves are stocked, that Canadians continue to be safe and fed are heroes of this pandemic,” he said.

READ MORE: Grocery giants called to testify before MPs over ending employee wage top-ups for COVID-19

“And that is why we will continue to exhort and expect that people who have stepped up during this time be properly supported and paid for it,” he added.

The comment came after three Canadian grocery giants announced they were clawing back on a $2-per-hour wage increase for front-line employees.

Story continues below advertisement

The wage premiums at Loblaw Companies, Metro and Empire Co. (owner of Sobeys, Safeway and FreshCo) were put in place on March 8 in order to compensate employees who were working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus outbreak: Treasury Board president says workers need support amid COVID-19, no matter who they work for
Coronavirus outbreak: Treasury Board president says workers need support amid COVID-19, no matter who they work for

The decision to scrap what Empire called “Hero Pay” has been met with controversy.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The House of Commons on Thursday announced it is calling the grocery store giants to testify on why they cancelled the bonus pay.

Loblaw executive chairman Galen Weston said at the time it was introduced that the program was “in recognition of [workers’] outstanding and ongoing efforts keeping our stores open and operating so effectively.”
Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Feds giving provinces, territories up to $3B to boost essential workers’ wages

With the coronavirus a part of Canadians’ lives for more than three months, Loblaws stores and distribution centres “have settled into a good rhythm,” Sarah Davis, Loblaw president, wrote in an email to workers sent on June 11 and obtained by the Canadian Press.

“With this stability and economies reopening, we have decided the time is right to transition out of our temporary pay premium.”

Global News has reached out to Loblaw, Metro and Empire Co. for comment on the House of Commons committee’s vote.