WELLINGTON COUNTY – The province is pleading with residents to remain calm and stop hoarding food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Mach 14 press release, deputy premier Christine Elliott and agriculture and food minister Ernie Hardeman assuaged fears of a food shortage.
“Ontarians can be confident that our food supply is robust and that our distribution system will continue to operate and remain responsive to the needs of Ontarians,” they stated.
“Rest assured, we have plenty of food that will continue to reach grocery stores on a regular basis.”
Residents across the province, including in Wellington County, have reported long lineups and empty shelves at grocery stores.
Depleted or sold-out items have included meat, bread, some frozen foods and non-perishable items such as canned goods, pasta and rice.
Panic purchasing and food hoarding food seemed to coincide with the March 11 COVID-19 pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization.
It intensified quickly over the next several days, as widespread cancellations and closures heightened coronavirus fears.
But the government says the practice is misguided.
“Our food supply chain is one of the strongest in the world and our government remains committed to ensuring Ontarians can access healthy and nutritious Ontario-produced foods,” stated Elliott and Hardeman.
“Please practice normal grocery buying habits and rest assured that our grocery production and supply chain will continue to provide Ontarians with the food we enjoy each and every day.”
Cleaning products, toilet paper
Other items missing from many stores in the province include hand sanitizer, cleaning products and, perhaps most notably, toilet paper.
There appears to be no logical reason for the panic purchasing and hoarding of bathroom tissue, and a leading manufacturer expects shortages to be short lived.
Dino Bianco, CEO of Kruger Products, which produces brands such as Cashmere, White Swan and Scotties, recently told the CBC that the Mississauga-based company’s factories are working hard to meet the recent demand.
“What you’re seeing in shortages on shelves with customers is the fact that we have not been able to supply quickly enough to meet the spike in demand,” Bianco said in a March 13 CBC article.
He added residents shouldn’t panic about a dearth of toilet paper.
“We’re producing it, we’ve got people working overtime, we’re expediting shipments to customers to make sure we continue to service the needs of consumers,” Bianco told the CBC.
Another phenomenon that has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the hoarding of certain products to re-sell them at a profit, which many view as unethical.
In response, Kijiji Canada has stated it will no longer allow listings for surgical masks, hand sanitizer/gel, disinfecting wipes and toilet paper.
“We have been monitoring the community response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada. Based on user feedback, and to curb pricing practices that run counter to the community-minded spirit of Kijiji, we will temporarily ban (those) listings …” reads a message on the Kijiji website.
“We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and quickly remove any listing that mentions COVID-19, coronavirus, or 2019nCoV (except books) in the title or description.”
Google and Facebook have banned ads trying to capitalize on the coronavirus, notably those for medical masks.