Innovation Minister Launches Competition Act Review
Innovation, Science and Industry Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, is launching a review of the Competition Act.
The first step in modernizing the Competition Act was to make the targeted improvements announced in Budget 2022. These changes addressed shortcomings in the Act and have brought Canada more in line with international best practices, including by increasing penalties for companies that contravene the Act.
“Canada, like other countries, is facing record high inflation, and we must do everything we can to make life more affordable for Canadians,” explains the Minister. “With the launch of the review of the Act, I am seeking Canadians’ views on broader changes to it and its enforcement framework, including changes that will help the Competition Bureau better protect consumers and the integrity of the marketplace.”
Separately, on November 22, the Competition Bureau said it had obtained a court order to advance its inquiry into The Dufresne Group, Inc., a furniture retailer, and its affiliates, to determine if their marketing practices raise concerns under the civil deceptive marketing provisions of the Competition Act. The bureau is investigating “urgency cue claims related to the end dates of sales that may be false or misleading,” and “potentially inflated regular prices used when making savings claims.”
Presently, the Bureau discovered no improper practices or, conclusions of wrongdoing.
Canada has seen its share of competition issues lately, such as in the grocery industry (with price collusion) and the Shaw-Rogers deal, which, if finalized, would create a near monopoly in Canadian telecom. The Toronto Star reports that, “[the Competition Bureau] is seeking to block the entire transaction, including the merger of the two Canadian cable giants and the sale of Shaw’s wireless business Freedom Mobile to Quebec-based Vidéotron.”
The review of the Competition Act will look at ways to improve all the key areas of the competition framework, including:
- the scope of the Act;
- enforcement methods and corrective measures set out in the Act; and
- the improvement or reinforcement of competition policy in increasingly digital and data-driven markets.
He underlined the importance of the consultation to improve competition and affordability for Canadians.
Canadians can make written submissions online and have until February 27, 2023 to do so. A series of roundtables will also be held with a variety of stakeholders to ensure a variety of views are heard. “The comments collected will help inform the next steps, including potential changes to the law,” he says.