Open letter from Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada - Retail Council of Canada

Open letter from Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada

March 20, 2020

By Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada


Retail’s critical role in keeping our communities strong is especially evident during this COVID-19 crisis.  Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) top priority is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all retailers and their employees so they can meet the diverse needs of Canadians while keeping everyone safe.

Ensuring we not only protect our country’s exceptional retail infrastructure but also allow for greater agility to meet the quickly changing needs of Canadians during these extraordinary times has been Retail of Canada’s (RCC’s) 24/7 focus for the last several weeks. 

On behalf of our small, medium and large retail members from coast to coast, we have and continue to proactively inform, challenge, lobby and advance measures and programs to support our industry with all levels of government across Canada.  We are doing so to assist during this period of crisis and uncertainty and to prepare for what might come next.

Supply Chain and Movement of Goods

We have one of the most sophisticated grocery and food supply industries in the world. The sudden rush of buying has temporarily left some grocery shelves bare but they are currently being re-stocked.  There is no reason for residents to panic-buy and stockpile.  Yet the fact remains, how Canadians are buying is changing and we need new systems.  Policy makers are listening; RCC applauds the recent Ontario’s province-wide announcement to allow 24/7 deliveries, which will increase how quickly retailers can move product onto shelves and get needed goods to consumers as RCC proposed.  We encourage other provinces to follow suit.

A special mention to all our drug chains and pharmacies.  During emergencies such as this unprecedented pandemic, drug chains and pharmacies have been working around the clock to ensure that Canadians are safe with respect to medication and timely access to medications.  We salute your work and your dedication.

Essential Retail

Ensuring a broad number of retail doors remain open so retailers can continue to serve the varied and diverse essential needs of Canadians is critical during this crisis.  The importance of having a clear definition of “essential retail” will ensure access to all Canadians to the goods they need, when they need them and will reduce the current stockpiling tendencies.

Financial Support and Fixed Costs Relief

RCC is lobbying governments across the country to ensure retailers and their employees have quick and easy access to EI as well as payroll, tax and rent and utilities relief.  We are thankful to all retailers who are assisting us in developing and putting proposed measures before governments to ensure that our needs as an industry are a priority.

We are also thankful to the many like-minded trade associations who are supporting our message and advancing our proposed retail-relief measures.

Retail Employees  

These are unprecedented times.  We thank all our employees in stores and supply chains who are working every day to respond to the essential needs of Canadians.  We are all so grateful for your efforts and personal sacrifices.  Know that we are taking extra measures to ensure you can work safely while we all get through this crisis together. 

Finally, I join all our retail businesses in thanking Canadians for supporting our employees and for practicing appropriate hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control measures to protect themselves and those around them.


Diane J. Brisebois
President & CEO
Retail Council of Canada