Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is considering broad changes to the Competition Act, on which RCC has commented. The Competition Act generally applies to retailers nationally. Enforced by the Competition Bureau, the Competition Act establishes guardrails that separate anti-competitive business conduct from healthy economic competition.
In a discussion paper, The Future of Competition Policy in Canada, ISED positions digital commerce as a key change driver and floats a number of significant policy shifts to frameworks governing mergers, unilateral conduct, competitor collaborations, deceptive marketing, administration and enforcement. Should the government decide to introduce proposed Competition Act amendments coming out of this consultation, those would follow a number of significant amendments that were passed in the 2022 Budget. Among the 2022 amendments were higher financial penalties, prohibitions on drip pricing as well as wage-fixing and no-poaching agreement prohibitions, and the addition of consumer privacy as a factor for assessing competitive impact.
RCC has communicated to policymakers the importance that the Competition Act remain a law of general application that maintains and encourages competition and provides consumers with competitive prices and product choices, with no major changes made. We hope that the government will continue to meaningfully consult with stakeholders and that any proposed amendments that may result are well suited to the Canadian marketplace. We have also made specific recommendations in response to most of the paper’s proposed changes in specific areas (see our submission below).