Churchill residents frustrated with high grocery prices
Some in northern Manitoba town eating at hospital cafeteria instead
Some people in Churchill, Man., are so fed up with high grocery prices, they're dining at the local hospital because it's cheaper, according to at least one resident.
Gina Beaulieu says she has watched grocery prices at the local Northern Store skyrocket over the last few months, with a four-litre jug of milk currently costing almost $12 and a 2.2-kilogram prime rib roast priced at almost $80.
"It's nuts. It's just unreal," Beaulieu told CBC News, adding that fruits and vegetables are also expensive in Churchill right now.
Beaulieu said she and some others in the northern Manitoba town are opting to eat at the local hospital cafeteria two or three times a week because the food there costs less.
"Compared to what I was putting out for food trays — a vegetable tray and dip — it's a lot cheaper," she said.
It's too difficult for families in Churchill to make ends meet as it is, Beaulieu said.
"On top of their rent, they've got to buy groceries, [pay for] their utilities and put their kids in daycare," she said.
"Some people can't afford these prices, and we don't have a food bank."
'We are doing our best,' says official
The North West Company, which owns the Northern Store, says grocery prices are higher in Churchill than in southern Manitoba, due in large part to transportation costs.
"It is high prices. But I would say to our customers, we are doing our best," said Michael McMullen, executive vice-president of the company's northern Canadian retail division.
McMullen said because Churchill is accessible by rail, it does not qualify for food transportation subsidies under the federal Nutrition North program.
Nutrition North provides a subsidy to grocery retailers that operate in remote northern communities. The retailers, in turn, must make their own freight arrangements and pass the savings on to customers.
While Churchill does not qualify for the subsidy, McMullen said the North West Company is sensitive to high grocery prices in the community.
For example, he said the company does not pass on the high cost of flying up perishable food items if the train cannot make it on time.