Canada Initiates Reforms to Competition Act to Tackle Monopolies
François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Industry, Science, and Industry, announced key amendments to the country’s Competition Act on Thursday.
The changes aim to address the growing concern over monopolies in various sectors and come after extensive consultations with civil society groups, academics, and experts. The move was applauded by non-profit and consumer advocate OpenMedia.
“Today Minister Champagne started the process of addressing Canada’s multi-sector monopoly crisis,” said Matt Hatfield, OpenMedia Campaigns Director. “It’s a huge step forward in making Canada a more competitive and fair country.”
The amendments include the removal of the ‘efficiencies’ defense, which has allowed companies to justify anti-competitive mergers on the grounds of increased productivity. Additionally, the Competition Bureau, Canada’s primary competition regulator, will be granted more authority to study markets and recommend improvements to industry competition.
“Our government is taking concrete actions to stabilize food prices and improve competition in Canada. That’s why the industry needs to step up with meaningful solutions. But that’s not all. We also need updated tools to modernize our competition environment. Our government will continue to work day-in and day-out to bring relief to consumers and increase competition,” said Champagne in a statement.
Recent polling by OpenMedia and Ekō revealed that 92% of Canadians believe monopolies are inflating prices, while only 7% think the current competition laws benefit consumers. OpenMedia has also been a vocal critic of the proposed Rogers-Shaw buyout, delivering over 83,000 messages from concerned Canadians to policymakers and gathering 10,000 signatures on a petition urging Minister Champagne to curb the influence of telecom giants like Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Quebecor.
The reforms are seen as a first step, with further comprehensive changes expected to follow. “We’ve got a long way to go to fix our infestation of monopolies in Canada, and today’s announcements were just the start,” Hatfield added.