Money Grocery deliveries delayed as demand surges amid COVID-19 pandemic
Moe will not call snap spring election, citing COVID-19 threats
After weeks of speculation over whether an election campaign would come early to Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe has committed to not calling a snap spring election. In a statement sent out through his press secretary, Moe cited the need for stable leadership as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock global markets and raise health concerns. “We will remain focused on providing a strong, stable government and addressing the health and economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moe said. “I will not be calling a provincial election this spring.” Saskatchewan has a set election date of Oct. 26 for this year.
Grocers and third-party services are seeing an influx in demand for delivery, resulting in longer-than-normal wait times as health and government authorities urge people to practice social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
"The demand has increased so much so quickly it's impossible for us to meet," said Marie-Claude Bacon, vice-president of public affairs and communications at Metro Inc. The grocer's e-commerce business serves parts of Quebec and the Greater Toronto Area.
"The delays are very long."
Related video: Here's why didn't supermarkets act faster to place limits during COVID-19 (Provided by CBC.ca)
Alberta suspends jury trials in wake of COVID-19 pandemic
Jury trials in Alberta have been suspended until May 31 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an email sent to prosecutors Friday by Calgary's chief Crown prosecutor Sue Kendall. Defence lawyers will be given the option to re-elect to judge-alone trials which would allow already-scheduled trials to proceed. If counsel chooses not to re-elect, trials will have to be adjourned.
Traffic to the company's website has doubled since the outbreak came to Canada, she said.
Whereas previously customers could order online and pick-up in store or receive a delivery that same day, Bacon said they must wait much longer now for delivery and pick up.
Metro is trying to hire more staff to meet the surge, she said.
Meanwhile, the company is asking that people who are capable of shopping at stores to do so.
"If you're in good health, if you can have someone come into the store and shop, that's the ideal way of doing it in order for us to be able to provide the service to the ones who are not able to come to our stores."
Canadians ‘do not need to panic’ about food shortages amid COVID-19, experts say
The last few weeks have seen Canadians emptying the shelves at grocery stores in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Is it necessary? Will there be food shortages? Experts say no.A new survey conducted between March 13 and 15 by Dalhousie University and Angus Reid found 71 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, and that 41 per cent had purchased extra groceries and supplies as a result.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. has seen its PC Express business, which allows customers to shop online for pick-up or delivery, more than double in recent weeks, said Catherine Thomas, senior director of external communication, in an email.
Wait times vary depending on the location, she said, and the company is doing its best to fulfil orders quickly.
"But, in some areas where demand is particularly high, wait times for pick up or delivery could take a few days."
That spike comes as authorities encourage Canadians to stay at least 2 metres away from others in an effort to slow transmission of the virus, and as the company dropped fees and prices for its e-commerce business, she said.
"As demand grows, we're finding new ways to serve more people, faster. That means more equipment, more capacity during pick up windows, and staff hiring."
Next week, the company will close one store to customers and use it to fill online orders as a pilot project, she said, in an effort to address the growing demand.
Project Robin Hood in Kingston helping re-distribute hoarded items amid coronavirus pandemic
St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Kingston will become a "drop and go donation point” for many goods in short supply because of hoarding.Starting Wednesday, St. Mark's Lutheran Church on Victoria Street will become a "drop and go donation point” for many goods in short supply because of hoarding due to concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic -- things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as well as non-perishable food items.
Loblaw CEO Galen Weston addressed the company's e-commerce services during the coronavirus outbreak in a note to customers mid-March.
"We are managing the rising number of orders and ramping up our systems as quickly as we can so customers can shop online with confidence," he said.
"However it will be difficult for us to meet all the additional demand, possibility limiting availability for people who are sick, in self-isolation, or at elevated risk."
He asked "healthy, mobile and symptom-free" shoppers to come into stores.
Instacart, a California-based company that delivers groceries in cities in 11 of Canada's provinces and territories, has seen order volume grow more than 150 per cent over the past several weeks, the company said in an email.
"In the last few weeks, we've seen unprecedented customer demand across our platform," it said, noting the average customer order size is up more than 15 per cent month over month.
It did not answer questions about how long a delay customers can expect compared to operations before the pandemic, but sent a statement that said, in part, that "customers can expect to see delivery availability vary across stores during the busiest request windows."
Delivery windows vary based on retailers, the number of available shoppers and other factors, it said, encouraging customers to check delivery times online frequently.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX:MRU, TSX:L, TSX:EMP.A)
Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press
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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada .
The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern): 12:45 a.m. The Victoria Police Department's patrol officers paid tribute to hospital staff with a 15-car salute Thursday. A news release says officers began their night shift by visiting the Royal Jubilee Hospital to acknowledge the health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A full watch of patrol officers circled the Royal Jubilee Hospital in their police cars with their lights activated around 7 p.m.The officers got out of their vehicles outside the emergency room bay and took a moment to clap and celebrate the work of hospital staff and health care workers.