UPDATED: There are some new developments in the price-fixing story we reported on in December. The story came to light in November when the Competition Bureau staged raids on head offices of some of the companies being investigated. In December, Loblaw Companies Ltd. and its parent George Weston Ltd. publicly acknowledged that they had taken part in what they called an industry-wide scheme to fix bread prices for more than a decade ending in March 2015. In exchange for immunity from criminal charges, they pledged to cooperate with the Competition Bureau investigation. Companies under investigation include Canada Bread Company, Walmart, Metro and Sobeys, among others.
- A $1 billion class-action lawsuit has been launched by an anti-poverty activist from Elliott Lake against Loblaw Companies. CBC News reported that the lawsuit is being launched on behalf of all customers who bought bread at Loblaws stores starting in January 2001. George Weston Ltd., Canada Bread Company and Walmart Canada Corp. are also among the defendants. A second lawsuit has also been initiated in Quebec. As this went to press, neither lawsuit had been certified to proceed.
- The former grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs also filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit in the same case, specifically naming Loblaw Ltd., George Weston Ltd., Canada Bread Company Ltd., and Walmart Canada, Metro Inc. and Giant Tiger Stores Ltd. The CBC News report says Derek Nepinak is being represented by Winnipeg-based law firm Boudreau Law, who is quoted as saying, “We are hoping with Derek’s involvement in this that First Nations will in fact join the class action.”
- Darrell Jones, president of Save-on-Foods, has said that the price-fixing was done by one of the company’s main bread suppliers and that Save-on-Foods had no knowledge and did not take part. Jones says the company will seek compensation from the suppliers involved and is offering a $25 gift card to existing customers of the More Rewards loyalty program.
- Loblaws has offered its customers a $25 gift card in compensation for the price-fixing. However the legal firms undertaking the class-action lawsuit are warning consumers to be cautious about accepting the compensation before they understand what legal rights they may give up by doing so.