Defeated earlier this year as a private members’ bill, a proposal for an Ontario Consumer Watchdog has resurfaced in the Ontario New Democrat Party platform for the upcoming provincial election.
As part of the section titled “Protect Consumers,” the NDP platform pledges to “establish an independent Consumer Watchdog to handle consumer complaints and investigate businesses that violate consumer protection laws.”
A private members bill introduced last year by four NDP Members of Provincial Parliament made a similar proposal, citing that “the current level of consumer protection in Ontario is not adequate”, and that “anti-consumer activities or practices on the part of some businesses and other entities is a real and serious problem in Ontario.” It also noted that consumers don’t know where to file complaints, and that lawyers are too often unaffordable. Bill 77, Ontario Consumer Watchdog Act, 2022, was defeated in March 2022.
Other consumer protection priorities enumerated by the NDP platform include directing the Ontario Energy Board to regulate retail prices and wholesale markups to ensure gasoline prices are “fair, stable and competitive”, and banning payday loans and replacing them with alternative financial products.
Other parties have not yet released full campaign platforms. The Liberal Party has promoted some new policies, including $1 fares for public transit, and elimination of HST on lower-cost, prepared food items.
The ruling Progressive Conservative party platform is expected to mirror the recently released provincial budget, which promoted large dollar expenditures in hospitals, transit and highways, in contrast to its 2018 campaign proposing to reduce government spending.