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Grocery stores boost wages, install shields to protect workers


Photo: Courtesy Loblaw

Loblaw, the grocery chain behind Shoppers Drug Mart, Real Canadian Superstore and other brands, is temporarily boosting pay for its workers.

Galen Weston, CEO of Loblaw, said pay would be boosted by 15 per cent for store and distribution centre workers retroactively to March 8.

“Our extraordinary teams are motivated by what they see as a responsibility to Canadians and the opportunity to make a difference,” Weston said in a statement.

“But, unlike so many businesses across the country right now, our supermarkets and pharmacies are performing well. And the leaders in our business wanted to make sure that a significant portion of that benefit would go straight into the pockets of the incredible people on the front line and in our distribution centre.”

Loblaw isn’t the only grocery store boosting pay for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro also announced it was boosting pay by $2 an hour, retroactive to March 8 and running until May 2.

“Our colleagues in stores and in distribution centres have been working very hard for many days now, doing a great job to support our customers as we face an unprecedented crisis,” Metro said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Protecting grocery store workers

Earlier, Loblaw announced it was installing plexiglass shield at checkount counters.

It is also trying to secure medical grade masks, hand sanitizers and gloves for its front-line employees.

“We are making progress and sending them directly to stores as we get them,” said Weston. “But, for a little while longer supply will be inconsistent.”

Grocery chain Sobeys is also installing plexiglass shields, and is putting markers on the floor to help customers keep distance from each other when standing in line.

“We’ve looked across the world at best practices and these shields stand out as a strong safety precaution,” Sobeys said in a statement to its customers.