The Manitoba government says it will review how milk is priced, especially after a CBC investigation found some downtown Winnipeg stores charging more than what is allowed by law.
A number of downtown convenience stores were found selling one-litre cartons of milk above the maximum prices that can be charged under regulations in the Milk Prices Review Act.
|Type of milk||Maximum price|
(Source: Retail Milk Prices Order, Milk Prices Review Act. Prices are effective Nov. 1, 2012.)
The maximum prices range from $1.50 for skim milk to $1.67 for homogenized milk, but some downtown stores had prices as high as $2.09 for a one-litre carton of homogenized milk.
Ron Kostyshyn, Manitoba's minister of agriculture, food and rural initiatives, said Friday he is concerned with the price differences for milk that were revealed by the investigation.
"We will be completing a province-wide review of how milk prices are regulated in Manitoba," Kostyshyn said in a statement.
The review "will include looking at how milk prices are set by processors, wholesalers and retailers for different milk quantities," he added.
It will be in addition to the Milk Prices Review Commission's annual review, which is done every February.
The province's latest review could mean maximum prices could be set not only for one-litre cartons of milk, but also for two-litre and four-litre containers.
Currently, the price limits only apply to one-litre cartons, meaning retailers can charge whatever they want for larger quantities of milk.
'Nickel-and-dimed to death'
The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg says the price of milk is a problem for people on low or fixed incomes, especially those who live in the inner city.
"They feel like they're getting nickel-and-dimed to death," said Christina Maes Nino, a policy and program analyst with the council.
"People are already choosing between milk and rent. Now they're choosing between milk and soda, or nutritious food and non-nutritious food."
But Joe Cantor, who owns Cantor's Meats, says there should not be any minimum or maxiumum prices set for milk, since there are no such limits for items like bread.
In 1985, he successfully fought the province to remove minimum prices for milk, in an effort to get more customers to come into his store.
Today, a one-litre carton of homogenized milk sells for $1.89 at Cantor's store — 22 cents above the maximum price.
"I think you should be able to sell the milk at what price you want," he said.
Several downtown convenience store owners told CBC News they cannot afford to lower their milk prices because it would cut into their already small profits.