CALGARY -- A Calgary business has been charged for price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move follows a probe launched in April by the Service Alberta consumer investigations unit (CIU) after receiving an anonymous tip.

An investigator went to CCA Logistics Ltd. (Newsway), in the 3400 block of 12th Street N.E. on April 1, where they say they found several pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for sale at grossly inflated prices.

Examples included:

  • 3M masks - $120 (400 per cent markup)
  • Hand sanitizer - $39 (200 per cent markup)
  • Vitamin C (two-pack) - $30 (100 per cent markup)
  • Hand soap - $10 (300 per cent markup)
  • Lysol spray - $25 (250 per cent markup)

An interim director's order was issued on April 15, ordering the business to stop charging exorbitant prices, which officials said was ignored.

Premier Jason Kenney had harsh words Friday for anyone who would upcharge Albertans.

"I want to send a clear message. If you think you're going to gouge your fellow Albertans with ridiculous price increases exploiting the pandemic, you've got another thing coming, we're going to go after you," he said.

"We're going to go after you and throw the book at you and lay down the law and protect consumers against price gouging. And this was the first charge that we've made.

"But I can tell you there are many, many other active investigations, and we will leave no stone unturned to bring the full force of the law to those who are seeking to exploit their fellow Albertans through price gouging."

The business owner is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Calgary on Aug. 19.

As of May 8, CIU has received 458 complaints about price gouging related to COVID-19 at businesses across Alberta and 351 have been forwarded for further inspection or investigation.

Price gouging has been alleged across the province on the following consumer products:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lysol/Clorox Wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Face masks (including some N95s)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Soup
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Baby formula
  • Shredded cheese
  • Ground beef

If found guilty, a company could face fines up to $300,000.