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Sugar shortage leaves bitter taste for Saskatoon bakers

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A strike at a sugar refinery in B.C. is causing a shortage of the sweet staple across Western Canada, and leaving a bitter taste for some at-home bakers and businesses in Saskatoon.

Tracey Muzzolini, co-owner of Christies Mayfair Bakery, said she’s focusing on securing enough brown sugar for the holiday season.

“What we’re all thinking about is Christmas because this is our big time to shine, and when we haven’t got one of our main ingredients for our baking, it becomes really serious,” she said.

Rogers Sugar, Western Canada’s largest sugar refinery, saw 138 workers walk off the job in September.

Workers are asking to keep their eight-hour shifts that run from Monday to Friday, instead of 12-hour shifts and being forced to work weekends, according to the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC).

“The company reached out last Thursday and asked if we would be interested in going into mediation,” Adrian Soldera, president of PPWC Local 8, told CTV News.

“We have decided to go into talks with them,” he said.

Mediation between the two parties is schedule for Thursday and Friday.

The Vancouver plant is one of three Rogers Sugar refineries in Canada, and it feeds the Western market.

“Rogers Sugar looks forward to the opportunity to work constructively with the union toward a fair collective agreement that will return our Vancouver plant to full sugar production as soon as possible,” Lantic Inc. said in a news release on Friday.

CTV News spoke to some Saskatoon residents who are seeing the sugar rush.

“Of course I’ve seen it, brown sugar in particular was a shortage,” Shirley Peakman said.

“The shelves are empty in there. There’s no sugar. There’s people looking at the sugar and wanting sugar, but there’s no sugar,” Charlene Bonnor said.

“Walmart they were empty, all the Rogers Sugar was gone,” Mike Mcgough said.

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