Calgary-based company charged with pandemic price gouging
Premier Jason Kenney said his government will go after those who seek to profit off the health crisis
Alberta has charged a Calgary-based supply company with COVID-19 price gouging, but the company's owner says he himself is paying massively inflated prices just to bring in supplies like masks and sanitizer.
"I'm trying to compete globally — globally. The price is going to be higher," Yan Gong, owner of CCA Logistics Ltd., said Friday.
"Either we make some small profit or we actually donate [the material] to local communities."
On Friday, Premier Jason Kenney announced that CCA is the first company to be charged with price gouging during the pandemic in Alberta.
He said his government will bring the hammer down on those who seek to profit extortionately off the health crisis.
"If you think you are going to gouge your fellow Albertans with ridiculous price increases, exploiting the pandemic, you've got another thing coming," said Kenney. "We're going to go after you and throw the book at you."
Kenney said investigators found last month that CCA Logistics was charging $120 for a mask (a 400 per cent markup) and $39 for hand sanitizer (a 200 per cent markup). The company was charged after it allegedly ignored a warning to stop.
Gong questioned the government comparisons.
On the $39 hand sanitizer, Gong said it was for an oversized bottle of specialized anti-bacterial soap.
"It's 1,000 millilitres," said Gong. "You can use it the whole summer."
Gong added that his company is not just trying to bring in supplies. It's part of a group also donating supplies to grocery chains and to the community.
He is to appear in Calgary provincial court on Aug. 19. He said he won't bring a lawyer.
"I will stand on the stage and tell the judge what happened."
Companies found guilty of price gouging face fines of up to $300,000.
To date, the province said it has received 458 complaints about price gouging related to COVID-19. Of those, 351 are to be investigated.
The complaints include markups on items including masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, soup, flour, toilet paper, baby formula, ground beef and shredded cheese.
It has been nine weeks since Alberta reported its first case of COVID-19.