loblaws ontario

Fire departments in Ontario now inspecting much-criticized Loblaws barriers

Authorities in at least one Ontario city have had to inspect plexiglass barriers at Loblaws-owned grocers after angry shoppers began questioning the security features.

Consumers already eager to criticize the supermarket giant (and its competitors) for rising food costs, shrinking products and more have been taking to social media to share their qualms with the additions, which are apparently not new but have been rolled out in progressively more locations lately.

People encountering the clear, "hockey rink high" plastic installations have been not only taking issue with them in principle but also in practice, wondering if they could impede customers' escape in an emergency situation.

"It'd be an interesting exercise to report it to whatever fire authority exists in Ontario as an evacuation hazard in case of fire," one person noted in a Reddit conversation on the barriers last month — which is essentially what has now happened in Ottawa, where inspections of multiple Loblaws stores have taken place, according to CTV News Ottawa.

Toronto Fire, meanwhile, told blogTO that as of Thursday, it has not inspected any local locations yet or heard of any potential issues with the barriers in T.O. stores, but does understand the public's concerns.

In response to the backlash, Loblaws said in a statement to blogTO in April that it has "had safety barriers like this installed for a number of years in banners across Canada. They keep customers safe and protect against theft. We're expanding them to more stores to keep people safe."

It also told CTV this week that the partitions are a proven, industry-wide method of cutting down on incidents of theft, and are "fully compliant with all safety and regulatory plans."

Amid all of the grumbling online, a few people have noted that they've spotted similar structures in other stores, like Walmart, and that they are definitely not exclusive to Loblaws — and are also in response to an uptick in stealing, which in itself can be seen as a reaction to sky-high food prices.

Lead photo by

Becky Robertson

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