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Poverty Wage Plutocrats: A Guide to Canada’s Grocery Chain Oligarchs

For workers, the grocery sector means low wages. For Canada’s wealthiest plutocrats, these conditions make the grocery business one of the most lucrative.

Poverty Wage Plutocrats: A Guide to Canada’s Grocery Chain Oligarchs
The Maple/Original graphic.

By Mitchell Thompson

For workers, the grocery sector means low wages, insecurity and constant employer surveillance. For Canada’s wealthiest plutocrats, these same conditions make the grocery business one of the most lucrative.

In the pandemic’s first year, as many workers struggled to make ends meet, top Canadian executive pay rose an average of 17 per cent. Canada’s billionaires also added an extra $78 billion to their wealth.

On lists documenting the rising fortunes of executives and billionaires, grocery magnates like Galen Weston Jr. and Jim Pattison feature prominently. Those same executives were the first to claw back their workers’ pandemic bonus pay.

This wasn’t a one off. These top grocery magnates have made it astonishingly clear for decades that their profits are the unpaid wages of the employees on the shop floor, taken from the value those workers generate.

For the executives, wage cuts mean more money for bonuses and dividends.

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