Alberta's food supply remains strong, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen said Thursday.Dreeshen assured residents Thursday morning that the food supply chain is able to support Alberta's population and there is no need to stockpile and hoard food.
“Do not hoard food and daily essentials. The system is intact and people should be mindful of irrational panic buying and the effect it has on their neighbours,” Dreeshen said.
"Albertans can be confident that the necessary steps are being taken to make sure people have what they need."
The government said that in recent weeks, Albertans’ buying patterns have changed and the food supply chain has responded. The government said they are in constant contact with industry partners and are monitoring the situation closely and ready to respond.
Major retailers are reporting a 50-per-cent increase in total sales and a doubling of sales per customer since the pandemic started earlier this month. There has been an increase in demand for meat and non-perishable food items, like canned goods and Kraft Dinner.
The minister said although some stores have had temporary shortages of certain items, this does not mean food supplies are running low. The government said stockpiling food creates additional unnecessary pressure on the food supply chain, which can put the province's most vulnerable people at risk.
Dreeshen said the province is formally requesting that the federal government declare the entire food chain as an essential service, so it can operate fully through the pandemic.
CN Rail has told the government it is able to keep the supply moving and truckers who are crossing the Canada-US border are exempt from the two-week isolation rule.
A large part of Canada’s supply chain relies on international trade.
“That’s why it’s critically important to make sure the border remains open ... and (truck drivers) don’t have to self-isolate,” Dreeshen said.
The government said they are working with retailers on supply pressures for high-demand items and monitoring availability in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
“Food is essential and we are in constant contact with our food suppliers and we will do whatever it takes to keep them open. I want to assure all Albertans that our food supply will remain safe, secure and accessible. Albertans are tough and resilient, and together, we will get through this,” Dreeshen said.