A steering committee of 10 core stakeholders is meeting weekly – and digitally – to meet a March 31 deadline for a concrete proposal to improve transparency, predictability and respect for the principles of fair dealing within the grower-to-grocer supply chain. Their report will be delivered to the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture.
The Canadian Horticultural Council, one of the core stakeholders, reports that the terms of reference, a work plan to develop the code and confidentiality agreement are completed. The group agrees that a mandatory code must define the scope of products to be included and that business principles must be spelled out clearly. This is to ensure contractual certainty and transparency, ethical dealings in commercial transactions and to address the disparity in negotiating power between small, mid-sized and large entities. A fair, accessible, effective, confidential and enforceable dispute resolution mechanism must be part and parcel of the code.
With input from the Competition Bureau, it was felt most prudent to proceed with association representatives and a steering committee structure for the code development phase. This avoids discussions that may be perceived to be anti-competitive in nature. Another piece of advice was to have a competition lawyer present during meetings.
Not having this counsel has the potential to slow progress and prevent important discussions from occurring and can limit the willingness of people with the right background/expertise to participate in those conversations. A request for financial support for a competition lawyer has been made to the Ministers.
The steering committee intends to present a proposal and strategic implementation plan that addresses the complexity of the grocery system by the end of March 2022. The steering committee consists of:
- Denise Allen
- Diane Brisebois
- Mathieu Frigon
- Michael Graydon
- Marcel Groleau
- Rebecca Lee
- Ron Lemaire
- Scott Ross
- Gary Sands
- Kathleen Sullivan
Source: Canadian Horticultural Council January 10, 2022 note to members