The Consumers Council of Canada's Annual Report of Activities 2018-19 has highlighted the year gone by as one in which the benefits of "disruption" in the marketplace began notably to add up less and less as beneficial to consumers.
The report was received by the Council's members at the organization's annual general meeting held June 27, 2019. The annual general meeting also elected the Council's new board of directors for 2019-20.
"The scope of the Council’s engagement with public policy reform, given its heavy reliance on volunteers, is quite breathtaking" said Council President Don Mercer, who was re-elected to lead the Council for the year ahead. "However, the Council must turn down too many requests to participate because of limited resources. Unfortunately the need to provide consumer representation has grown astronomically due to trade liberalization, IT disruption, climate change impacts and pressures to reform law and regulation. All the institutions that provide consumer protection are under stress, as are the organizations that make them work."
Among other things, the report highlights:
- Growing interest in the Council's work, as demonstrated by rising use of its website
- The Council's recent intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada pursuing consumers' interests
- It's academic partnership activity
- It's intervenor activity before the Ontario Energy Board and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
- It's representation work at key Ontario regulators like Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, Technical Standards and Safety Authority and Electrical Safety Authority, among others
- It's representation of consumers at Payments Canada, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Finpay and at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness
- It's participation in national and international standards development
The Council's membership thanked outgoing board members Howard Deane, Harvey Naglie, Sherry Monahan and Ken Morden for their service to the Council, especially noting Deane's seven consecutive years of service and even longer-term commitment as Council Treasurer, board member, member and consumer representative.
New additions to the board of directors are: Dorothy Buchanan, currently Coordinator, Professional Development for Students, Recruitment and Retention (Faculty of Education) for Brock University, past Director, Marketing Strategy, FirstOntario Credit Union and a former instructor at Ryerson University, including in Consumer Studies, Research Methods; Evan Leibovitch, Director of Community Relations for Linux Professional Institute, former Senior Consultant and Partner with Xunil Corporation, a Community Technology Access Coordinator for UNHCR, and a co-founder and former President of the Canadian Chapter of the Internet Society; and Tracy MacCharles, a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 2011 to 2018 and Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Children and Youth Services and Women's Issues, past Vice President of Human Resources at Manulife Financial, and former chair of the Ontario Accessibility Standards Advisory Council .
The 2019-20 board of directors named Don Mercer as president, Dennis Hogarth as vice president, Simon Wong as secretary and Trevor Shaw as Treasurer of the Council.