Grocery stores across the country are making changes to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to care for their staff who are working through the outbreak. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Grocery stores across the country are making changes to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to care for their staff who are working through the outbreak. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Grocery stores hiring more staff, offer wage boost as B.C. adapts to COVID-19 buying habits

Companies make changes to protect staff, customers during the outbreak

As COVID-19 spreads, grocery stores across the country are offering wage increases to employees, hiring temporary workers to keep up with demand and reserving exclusive shopping hours for the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wage increases for frontline store workers

On Friday, March 20, Save-On-Foods announced that employees working through the COVID-19 pandemic will receive a wage increase of $2 per hour dating back to March 8.

According to a written statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 1518 labour union, this retroactive pay bump will be doled out weekly and “is in recognition of grocery workers’ heroic efforts to keep the public fed, to get them their needed medical supplies and prescriptions, and to help keep them safe during this pandemic.”

READ ALSO: Save-On-Foods temporarily bans reusable shopping bags, suspends bottle returns

The UFCW statement was updated to include that PriceSmart Foods and Urban Fare – subsidiaries of the Overwaitea Food Group which owns Save-On-Foods – had also announced a $2/hour wage increase.

Whole Foods Market also announced that employees in Canada and the U.S. will also receive a $2 wage increase through April and those who work overtime will be paid double their regular wage from March 16 through to May 3. Any staff needing to be quarantined will receive up to two extra weeks of paid time off.

READ ALSO: ‘I’m profoundly disappointed,’ Horgan says of COVID-19 panic buying

Employment Insurance top-ups for grocery store staff

Also on Friday, UFCW 1518 issued a statement announcing that Safeway and Sobey’s employees – members of UFCW 247 – would be receiving Employment Insurance top-ups if placed on a 14-day quarantine or self-isolation or if staff members need to take time off with their children or dependents.

Those placed of mandatory quarantine after travelling internationally will receive a top-up to 95 per cent of their annual salary and those on self-quarantine due to possible contamination will be topped-up to 70 per cent.

READ ALSO: Resist the urge to panic shop despite COVID-19 fears, Trudeau says

Hiring more staff to meet demands

Walmart Canada announced on Twitter that as of March 20, the company is looking to hire 10,000 more employees to work in stores and distribution centres as demand on grocery stores increases.

“There’s a lot of work and we need you,” said Walmart Canada CEO and president Horacio Barbeito in a written statement.

He added that the company’s 90,000 employees will be offered additional support including access to online physician care and that annual bonus payments have been accelerated.

On March 19, Save-On-Foods announced it will also be hiring temporary workers to help keep Canadians fed for the duration of the outbreak.

READ ALSO: Parksville homeless shelter forced to close due to COVID-19 concerns

Grocery stores alter hours of operation

Walmart Canada, Save-On-Foods, Whole Foods and many other grocery stores across the province have reduced their hours to give staff more time to restock shelves while the stores are closed and have opted to reserve the first hour of operation each morning for seniors and vulnerable shoppers.

For both Save-On-Foods and Walmart Canada, this means from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., the only customers in the store will be those most vulnerable.

READ ALSO: Saanich grocers prepare staff for COVID-19

Other changes shoppers need to know about

  • Save-On-Foods has temporarily banned reusable bags and suspended bottle returns to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • Many stores including Walmart, Save-On-Foods and Thrifty Foods have limited quantities per customer to reduce panic-buying and stockpiling of goods.
  • “Shop normally, there’s enough food for everyone,” said Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones in a YouTube video posted on March 18.
  • Walmart and Whole Foods are allowing home deliveries to be left at the front door.
  • Jones explained that Save-On-Foods’s delivery service website has been crashing due to increased traffic and encouraged those who can shop in-store to leave the delivery service for customers who need it most.

@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

CoronavirusGroceriessave on foods

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Scamsters target Montrose resident. File photo
Fraudsters strike again in Montrose

A Montrose resident was taken for thousands in a COVID-related scam

(Black Press file photo)
Trail RCMP fine event organizer for flouting PHO order

Twenty-nine people attended an event at a place of worship in Trail

Violin Lake last fall. Photo: City of Trail
City of Trail applies for grant to decomission dams

Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation grant to restore Cambridge Creek and Violin Lk system

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Most Read