Why is competition so hard to find in Canada?

In today’s The Big Story podcast, in response to sky-high grocery costs, Canada’s Competition Bureau recently issued a report calling for more competition in the sector. That call was echoed by the federal government, who had hoped to lure a foreign chain, such as Germany’s Aldi, to Canada to give consumers options. But Aldi won’t be coming, and neither will anyone else, at least not anytime soon.

Vass Bednar is the executive director of McMaster University’s  Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program and the author of regs2riches.com. She says the entrenchment of larger players in the Canadian market may make it challenging for new firms to make inroads here.

“In terms of someone new coming here, they’re competing with companies that are very rich in terms of data and knowledge of what people want,” says Bednar, “that’s a blind spot that could certainly be a deterrent.”

Why is it so hard for companies to enter the Canadian market and compete against homegrown companies like Loblaw, especially in the grocery sector? How could Canada make it easier for competitors to set up shop? And should we be encouraging foreign-owned businesses over ones owned and operated by Canadians in the first place?

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