The summer recess followed by the federal election call ended the requirement for a federal government response to a House of Commons e-petition that called for an independent national consumer advocate.
Petition e-3150 was filed February 9, and urged the government to establish a Canadian Consumer Advocate answerable to Parliament to advance consumer interests and represent the consumer voice. An Advocate was described in 2019 Liberal Party campaign platforms, and responsibilities were first doled out to ministers in 2019 mandate letters.
However, the petition sought expanded responsibilities for the Advocate, beyond those outlined in the mandate letters. It reached the 500 signatures required to achieve certification and qualification to the House within the 120 days allotted. After certification by the Clerk of Petitions, the authorizing MP was not able to present the petition to the House of Commons before the summer recess. The House was dissolved with the call for the general election, meaning the petition will not receive a government response.
Consumers Council of Canada’s 2020 position paper Time for a Real Federal Consumer Advocate also strongly endorsed the national advocate and outlined numerous ways in which the office could have an expanded role. The original proposal outlined three key areas of responsibility, each of which have produced recent sources of consumer angst during the pandemic: banking, transportation and telecommunications.
The Council’s paper identified that expanded responsibilities could relate to the Competition Bureau of Canada, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Health Canada and that the Advocate could further facilitate research, collaborate with provinces in shared responsibility, support the voice of civil society in policy development and regulation, and more broadly supervise consumer protection.