Bill C-56 is another step toward tackling Competition Reform
But yesterday’s stakeholder report demands deeper changes to address Canada’s monopoly problem.
SEPTEMBER 21 2023 — Today Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled Bill C-56, the Affordable Housing and Groceries Act, following last week’s promises from Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) Minister François-Philippe Champagne to begin reforming Canada’s weak Competition Act. C-56 also follows ISED’s release of a What We Heard Report yesterday regarding their consultation on competition policy. Both moves appear to suggest that tackling corporate monopolies is top priority for the federal government this Parliamentary session.
“After years of inaction, our government seems to be taking competition reform seriously,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Striking the efficiencies defence removes a giant anchor from our Competition Bureau and will start to arm them with the tools they need to properly regulate and rein in monopolies. But there are many more unique weaknesses to our competition regulation that are holding Canadians back from an affordable, competitive economy. These failings are well summarized in yesterday’s report on their competition consultation: now all eyes will be on Minister Champagne and Prime Minister Trudeau to see if they’ll continue their work and address those issues.”
“OpenMedia’s polling shows Canadians across the political spectrum are deeply concerned by how our economy is skewed towards monopolies, and are demanding effective fixes from their representatives,” continued Hatfield. “Several opposition parties have proposed targeted fixes to the Competition Act in recent months, including Bill C-339, which surgically strikes the efficiencies defence, and Bill C-352, which is the best package of comprehensive reforms for fixing our economy for ordinary Canadians. As Canadians continue to pay some of the highest prices in the world for cell phone and Internet services — and are now facing skyrocketing grocery costs — we’re calling on every party to drop partisan bickering and work together to pass the key reforms we need. Canadians don’t want to hear talking points; they want a new balance of power between everyday people and our country’s largest and most profitable companies. Let’s see our leaders get it done.”
Polling done earlier this year by OpenMedia and Ekō showed that 92% of Canadians believe that monopolies are driving up prices, and only 7% of Canadians believe our competition laws benefit consumers. In recent months, over 23,800 members of the OpenMedia and Ekō communities have endorsed the Anti-Monopoly Charter, which lays out core principles for effective Competition Act reform in Canada. A new campaign by OpenMedia will launch shortly calling on all MPs to support competition reform.