$1B class action filed against Loblaws for bread price-fixing

A woman from Elliot Lake, Ont. has filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against Loblaw Companies Ltd. following the revelation that the company participated in industry-wide price-fixing of bread for 14 years.

Company admitted to industry-wide bread price-fixing on Tuesday

Loblaw Companies Ltd. is offering $25 gift cards as an apology to customers after revealing it participated in industry-wide price-fixing of bread for 14 years. A class-action lawsuit has now been filed against the company. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

A woman from Elliot Lake, Ont. has filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against Loblaw Companies Ltd. after the company revealed it participated in industry-wide price-fixing of bread for 14 years.

Irene Breckon, a senior citizen and anti-poverty activist, is the lead plaintiff in the case on behalf of all Canadians who purchased bread at the grocery chain's stores beginning in January 2001.

Breckon is being represented by Toronto-based law firm Sotos LLP. The suit also names George Weston Ltd., Canada Bread Company and Walmart Canada Corp. among the defendants.

"I'm very involved with many, many people who have very little," Breckon said in an interview with CBC News.

"They don't have money for the basics, and then when you find out that these large corporations are cheating us, it's just wrong."

She says she remembers paying up to $3.18 per loaf bread and speculates that the companies made more than $1 billion from the inflated pricing.

"A dollar a loaf of bread for 14 years — that's a lot of money."

On Tuesday, George Weston and Loblaw revealed their participation in the price-fixing arrangement. They were granted immunity by the Competition Bureau, which is now investigating at least seven other companies.

Loblaw has since offered a $25 gift card as an apology to customers. Breckon says the gift card doesn't make up for the money she and other people have lost.

"When I heard about the Loblaw card I thought, '$25, that's nothing! Compared to the what they've overcharged me over 14 years.'"

The statement of claim for the class action can be found online on the Sotos LLP website.

In order for the class-action lawsuit to proceed, it will have to be certified by a judge.

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