Four Ontario politicians introduced a private member’s bill to create a provincial consumer watchdog, claiming “the current level of consumer protection in Ontario is not adequate.”
The preamble to the Bill sponsored by four New Democratic Party MPPs, notes that “anti-consumer activities or practices on the part of some businesses and other entities is a real and serious problem in Ontario.” The proposed watchdog would be a “one-stop shop to handle all consumer complaints,” with the power to investigate businesses to determine compliance with consumer protection laws.
In an NDP news release announcing the filing, the sponsoring MPPs noted consumers don’t know where to file complaints because of the multiple places complaints could be filed, and that lawyers are too often unaffordable.
Consumer protection in Ontario is broadly the responsibility of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS). Its top listed “what we do” item on its home page is “lead consumer protection, public safety and business law; promote a fair, safe and informed marketplace for consumers and business.” MGCS responsibilities includes Consumer Protection Ontario which identifies as “an awareness program” from the Ministry and other administrative authorities “that promotes consumer rights and public safety.”
The Bill would require the Minister to establish a watchdog organization that is independent of government, responsible for overseeing consumer protection matters in Ontario, and includes investigating businesses and consumer complaints, administering penalties and publishing complaint statistics and investigation results.