Empty shelves in Yellowknife follow Loblaw dispute in Calgary

Customers shopping at Yellowknife’s two Independent grocery stores over the past few weeks may have noticed empty shelves and less produce for sale.

The lack of product comes as the Loblaw franchise, which owns the Your Independent Grocer chain, laid off employees at a Calgary distribution centre during a labour dispute over time off.

After contract negotiations with Teamsters Local 987 began in early November, the company publicly announced a 30-percent increase in profits over the previous year.


In interviews with the Calgary Herald and CBC News, Teamsters Local 987 spokesperson John Taylor said Loblaw refused to entertain demands relating to shift structure and consecutive days off.

An empty freezer at Glen’s Independent Grocer in downtown Yellowknife on November 30, 2022. Caitrin Pilkington/Cabin Radio

But after the company served layoff notices to more than 500 workers in preparation for a lockout on Friday last week, Local 987 accepted a final offer that included a raise for both full-time and part-time employees.

Catherine Thomas, vice-president of communications at Loblaw, issued a statement on Saturday expressing relief that workers voted to accept the deal. Thomas said the deal offered what the company considered to be “some of the most competitive wages in the industry.”

Loblaw company policy is understood to bar owners of local stores, such as those in Yellowknife, from offering comment to reporters regarding situations like these.

That means the extent to which the Yellowknife stores’ lack of recent produce relates to the industrial dispute is not clear.


However, store employees confirmed a shipment had been delayed – without confirming the circumstances of that delay – and said customers can expect a new shipment of produce, and a return to normal, by the coming weekend.

Other stores in the NWT, such as Northern stores and Yellowknife’s Co-op, are understood not to have been affected.