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'There's nothing': Frustration as baby formula shortage persists in Edmonton area

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An Edmonton family is frustrated as they continue going store-to-store searching for baby formula, saying many stores struggle to keep it stocked.

While Health Canada recognized a "critical" shortage of baby formula last summer, especially for specialized diets and conditions, a grandmother says she has been on the hunt to find some for the past two weeks.

Wendy Bracke has been caring for her eight-month-old grandson Emrys and was surprised that there were not only shortages of the brand they relied on but general stock levels for any product.

She estimates she's visited more than 20 stores, with few options available.

"He's been on four different formulas in the last month," Bracke told CTV News Edmonton. "In our area, we've been to all the Shoppers Drug Marts, all the Superstores, all the Safeways, all the No Frills. There's nothing."

"Even online, Amazon, Walmart online, we couldn't find it," she added. "I don't know why we can't seem to fill the shelves here in Edmonton. It's scary."

As she searches grocery store aisles, Bracke says she often finds other parents and caregivers who are also desperate to find baby formula.

"It's very, very difficult. I don't know how parents are doing this," Bracke said. "We can't get what we need."

"The formula is where he is getting his nutrition, and in order to change that all the time, it's not good for his system."

When asked by CTV News Edmonton on Monday, Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping said he is aware there are some supply challenges. He recommended parents struggling to locate formula call 811 and ask to speak to a dietician for advice on alternative nutrition options.

"We are currently working with the federal government to understand the impact of that [shortage]," Copping said at an event highlighting how the province imported Turkish children's cold and flu medication to alleviate supply disruptions.

Alberta Health Services is exploring creating a website showing where stock of baby formula is available, he added.

"We will continue to work with the feds and go from there."

In a statement, Health Canada says it is working "tirelessly" to improve supply and address the rising cost of baby formula.

The federal agency has authorized the temporary sale of more than 70 products from other countries as it also works with manufacturers to identify further options, a spokesperson said.

"These efforts have paid off so far by allowing a continuous supply to the country," said Natalie Mohamed. "We also expect the situation to stabilize over the next few months."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Miriam Valdes-Carletti

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