Canadians will elect a new government September 20. Each of Canada’s major parties has published a platform that describes the priorities it would implement if elected.
To help voters understand how the parties compare on important consumer protection issues, Consumers Council of Canada will publish platform excerpts. The issues selected were identified by the Council’s Public Interest Network (PIN) as the most important current consumer protection matters in recent questionnaires. Comparisons on other policy priorities are available from the CBC and elsewhere.
PIN survey results often highlight the sentiment that policymakers prioritize economic growth over consumer protection. Multiple party platform statements relate to elements of consumer protection not addressed earlier in the series.
The Conservative platform has a section on air transport reform that includes implementing passenger rights based on the EU system, that will “make it clear that passengers are entitled to full refunds, not vouchers, when an airline cancels a flight and doesn’t offer an alternative.”
There is a proposal to make “the Taxpayer Ombudsman an officer of Parliament with order-making authority”. The platform has a pledge to work with provinces on a grocery supply code “to deal with retailers’ abusive pricing and contracting practices against farmers, producers and processors.” It will also “ensure that Canadians pay lower prices for food by increasing the maximum fine for price-fixing from $24 million to $100 million and introduce criminal penalties for executives of price-fixing.”
It would “put in place a Service Guarantee that will make departments responsible for establishing and publishing binding service standards for programs like Employment Insurance, veterans support, indigenous services, passports, Canada Revenue Agency call centres, and other services.”
It would also establish a “right to repair electronic devices and other products at affordable prices, and make companies responsible for e-waste linked to their products.”
The platform targets gas prices by creating a “Fair Gasoline Prices Watchdog to investigate complaints about gouging and boost the power of the Competition Bureau to proactively investigate allegations of anti-competitive activity in the gasoline market.
It also plans to strengthen the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.
The 2021 platform makes no reference to a Canadian Consumer Advocate, which was included in the Liberals’ 2019 platform. The idea of a single point of entry for numerous consumer protection issues was lauded (and expanded upon ) by Consumers Council of Canada in a 2020 position paper, and by other organizations. The 2021 platform does have a proposal to establish a single independent ombudsperson for handling consumer complaints involving banks, with the power to impose binding arbitration. Banking was one of the proposed responsibilities for the 2019 consumer advocate office.