Ontario Introduces Legislation To Protect Consumers From “Unfair Business Practices”

The Ontario government is taking a significant step by introducing new legislation aimed at fortifying protections for Ontarians against unfair business practices, particularly in the realm of price gouging. If this legislation is successfully passed, it will not only bolster consumer safeguards but also facilitate business compliance with consumer protection regulations.

In the words of Todd McCarthy, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, “Our government will not stand by and allow bad actors to take advantage of hardworking Ontarians through unfair business practices.” He further emphasized the importance of instilling confidence in consumers when they spend their hard-earned money, be it in the local stores, online, or within their communities. He stated, “People deserve to shop with confidence when spending their hard-earned money on goods and services at home, online and in their communities.”

Acknowledging the dynamic shifts in Ontario’s marketplace, with the rise of online shopping and app-based transactions, the government recognizes that consumer protection laws have not undergone a comprehensive review and update since the Consumer Protection Act 2002 was enacted in 2005.

The newly proposed Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act 2023 is designed through several key provisions, including prohibiting unfair business practices that exploit consumers’ difficulty in comprehending contract language. Additionally, the act also seeks to restrict businesses from making unilateral changes, renewals, and extensions to contracts without explicit consent from consumers.

Other aspects of this proposed legislation are the streamlining of the process for consumers to cancel subscription or membership-based contracts, providing relief for consumers and their families who find themselves trapped in timeshare agreements or extended leases for home comfort appliances, and augmenting enforcement capabilities to enable the ministry powers like doubling the maximum fines that can be imposed on businesses found in violation of the act.

Under the proposed Consumer Protection Act 2023, businesses will find it easier to comply with consumer protection regulations in today’s predominantly digital marketplace. This will be achieved through a single, clear set of core rules that apply to most consumer contracts, regardless of whether they are executed online or in-person.

The legislation also addresses the critical issue of identity theft prevention by making amendments to the Consumer Reporting Act. These changes will grant Ontarians greater access to their credit information and more control over how their credit data is shared with third parties.

Furthermore, the government is actively seeking public input on measures to combat and reduce the inappropriate and harmful utilization of Notices of Security Interest (NOSIs) against unsuspecting consumers. NOSIs are notices that can be filed on the land registry system by businesses that finance or lease certain equipment on a property, such as HVAC units. In some instances, homeowners are unaware of NOSIs registered against their property, resulting in businesses imposing exorbitant fees for their removal.

Information for this briefing was found via the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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