The federal government is giving Loblaws $12 million to upgrade its refrigerators, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Monday.

The sum is part of the Liberal government’s $2-billion Low Carbon Economy Fund, introduced in 2017 to encourage businesses and organizations to reduce carbon emissions.

Critics have pointed out the company’s controversial past which involves an admitted bread price fixing regime and offshore tax avoidance allegations.

The company admitted the fixing in its 2018 annual report, claiming that those involved “regularly increased prices on a coordinated basis.” In an attempt to reimburse consumers affected by the company’s actions, Loblaws issued $25 gift cards to anyone who purchased bread from its stores during the affected period.

As a result, the company faced a $1 billion class action lawsuit headed by lead plaintiff and poverty activist Irene Breckon.

In another case, the company was ordered to pay back $368 million in unpaid taxes through an offshore account in Barbados.

The 2018 ruling detailed a scheme dating all the way back to 1992, involvingthe offshore Glenhuron Bank Ltd.

During question period Tuesday, NDP MP Niki Ashton criticized the Liberals for “rewarding billionaire friends” in their decision to give Loblaws the funds.

“In the eyes of this Liberal government it’s clear that every problem can be solved by giving money to your billionaire friends,” she said.

McKenna replied by claiming that the federal government is “investing in clean solutions” and that Loblaws was awarded the amount in a “fair and open competition.”

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