Canada is starting to fix our Competition Act
Competition Act fixes are a step in the right direction, but far more is needed to save Canadians from monopolies.
SEPTEMBER 14 2023 — Today the Industry, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced several key changes the government will be making to the Competition Act. Champagne’s initial updates come in response to years of feedback from civil society groups, academics, experts, and other stakeholders, in addition to hundreds of thousands of requests from OpenMedia community members, many of whom submitted comments to ISED’s consultation on improving the Act earlier this year.
“Today Minister Champagne started the process of addressing Canada’s multi-sector monopoly crisis,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “It’s a huge step forward in making Canada a more competitive and fair country. Inadequate competition and sky-high corporate profits are some of the biggest issues facing Canadians right now, at a time when we can least afford it. As our bills continue to rise and inflation pinches our pennies, it’s encouraging to see Minister Champagne finally taking action to protect everyday Canadians and implement safeguards that could protect us from disastrous mergers like Rogers-Shaw in the future. We hope more comprehensive Competition reforms will come soon, enabling pro-consumer action in telecom and tech sectors as well as on groceries.”
“We’ve got a long way to go to fix our infestation of monopolies in Canada, and today’s announcements were just the start,” continued Hatfield. “Right now, it is nearly impossible for our Competition Bureau to stop harmful buyouts in Canada, and that needs to change. The government and opposition parties must push further to turn Canada from a global competition laggard to leader.”
Key fixes Champagne promised today include: (1) removing the so-called ‘efficiencies’ defence, which enables anti-competitive mergers if the companies successfully argue they’ll improve productivity, and (2) giving the Competition Bureau — Canada’s key competition regulator — more power to study markets and make recommendations about improving industry competition.
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 Competition Act reform in Canada.
Since the Rogers-Shaw buyout was initially proposed in March 2021, OpenMedia and allies have delivered over 83,000 messages from concerned people in Canada calling on policymakers to block the Rogers-Shaw deal. A further 10,000 members of OpenMedia’s community have signed a petition calling on Minister Champagne to take concrete action to curb the dominance of telecom giants like Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Quebecor.