Ontario government declares war on COVID-19 price gougers

Anyone convicted of price gouging could be fined $100,000 and face up to a year in jail

Retailers attempting to gouge customers during the COVID-19 outbreak could face severe penalties under new regulations introduced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

On Saturday, the government unveiled stiff penalties under an emergency order, declaring anyone convicted of price gouging could face a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Company directors could be hit with fines of $500,000 and a year in jail, and convicted corporations could be fined up to $10 million.

Ford and Co. took aim at retailers attempting to price gouge after a photo from a Toronto Pusateri’s Fine Foods showed that the Avenue and Lawrence location was charging $30 for Lysol Wipes.

“I have zero tolerance for this kind of nonsense,” Ford said in a press conference on Saturday. “We are coming after you and we will shut you down.”

The government is urging Ontario residents to report examples of price gouging.

President and CEO of Pusateri Fine Foods Frank Luchetta addressed the controversy in an email to CBC.

“While no excuse, our stores are facing immense pressure on all levels of operation,” Luchetta wrote. “As a result of this mounting pressure, critical elements were overlooked including the incorrect pricing of this product.”

“This was our mistake, our error, our oversight, and we apologize to everyone impacted.”