Letter: Government must act on food hoarding due to COVID-19

A Coquitlam letter writer says the federal government must ease up on regulations restricting the production of goods such as eggs and dairy products in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic

The Editor, 

Yesterday, my family encountered shortages of staple foods such as rice, flour and chicken at our nearest Real Canadian Superstore. Today, my friend told me about shortages of eggs, dairy and meats, as well as the presence of security guards for the first time.

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According to him, it was "like a tornado occurred inside." He travelled to another grocery store to complete his purchases but found it in even worse condition. I am sure fellow residents have seen on social media videos and photographs of similar situations.

These foods would have been an option available to us if COVID-19-inspired panic buying and hoarding were not taking place.

Food is essential for life. There is no reason to purchase multiple sacks of multiple staple grains or multiple packages of multiple meats and dairies far in excess of your regular consumption.

On the political front, I urge the government of Canada and our elected representatives to temporarily suspend the national supply management system, which restricts the supply of dairy, poultry and eggs. Fully stocked shelves will prevent further panic.

I urge our leadership to declare a public welfare emergency as in the Emergencies Act for "real or imminent disease in human beings," which will grant powers to control "the requisition, use or disposition of property" and allow the imposition of "a fine not exceeding $500” on all hoarders.

Our consumer staples companies, namely Loblaws and George Weston Ltd., which together are worth $37 billion, should consider being good corporate citizens and limiting the quantities each customer may buy. This would go far to redeem their image in the eyes of a public, which still remembers their bread price-fixing scandal just three years ago.

Winfield Chen, Coquitlam

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