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So-called “excessive price” prohibitions are premised on a theory of harm that is generally rejected in competition law. Indeed, Canada’s Competition Act does not even contain a prohibition against excessive pricing. Among the many reasons for not prohibiting excessive prices are that to do so would undermine investment incentives (both of firms already in the market and potential entrants). Further, the phenomenon of excessive prices, in the absence of exclusionary conduct, is generally viewed as a temporary phenomenon that will be corrected by the market. Also, the legal uncertainty associated with the vagueness of the ‘excessive’ element in the concept could easily result in regulatory overreach.

In the context of COVID-19, the traditional arguments against prohibiting excessive prices have given way to a more consumer-oriented approach with respect to those supplying consumers directly. In response to concerns that retailers may be incentivized to substantially increase prices for products critical to the COVID-19 response, three Canadian provinces (i.e. British Columbia, Ontario & Nova Scotia) have specifically prohibited selling essential goods at unconscionable prices, or at prices markedly higher than fair market value. Other provinces appear to be more actively seeking to enforce pre-existing price gouging prohibitions in their consumer protection legislation, particularly in regards to necessary goods.

Yet, as already noted, it is unclear what constitutes an ‘excessive’ or ‘unconscionable’ price. Despite the fact that some provinces have had prohibitions on price gouging in their consumer protection legislation for decades, those provisions have been rarely used and scarcely considered by Canadian courts. At the same time, failing to comply with these provisions can have serious consequences, including financial penalties, restitution and reputational harm – and in some cases criminal fines and jail time. There is also the possibility a class action lawsuit could be instituted by a consumer on behalf of a class of consumers. What follows is a description of the price gouging laws of each Canadian province, as well as a description of their enforcement approach, where available, in order to help businesses understand how to avoid liability in respect of this particularly vague area of law.
Continue Reading Price Gouging Prohibitions across Canada

In an April 18, 2020 policy statement, the Government of Canada (“GOC”) announced that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, investments by non-Canadians “related to public health or involved in the supply of critical goods and services to Canadians or to the Government” would be subject to “enhanced scrutiny” under the Investment

On February 11th, the Competition Bureau published its Strategic Vision for 2020-24. Titled “Competition in the Digital Age”, this document outlines how the Bureau plans to deliver the benefits of competition to Canadians over the next four years in today’s rapidly changing digital economy.

The Strategic Vision includes three key themes

In August 2019, Genworth Financial, Inc. (Genworth) announced that it had agreed to sell its approximate 57% shareholding in Canadian subsidiary Genworth MI Canada Inc. (Genworth Canada) to Canadian headquartered Brookfield Business Partners L.P. (Brookfield) for approximately C$2.4 billion. Genworth Canada, through one of its subsidiaries, is Canada’s largest

On June 17, 2019 the Competition Bureau announced that it is challenging Thoma Bravo’s acquisition of Aucerna, a company that offers valuation and reporting software to Canadian oil and gas producers.

The fact that the Competition Bureau is challenging the transaction after it has been completed suggests that the transaction was not subject to pre-merger

On March 31, 2016, the Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) published the long-awaited update to its Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines (“IPEGs”). According to the Bureau, the aim of the updated IPEGs is threefold. They:

  • Clarify the Bureau’s position on patent litigation settlements and product switching—notably that settlements of proceedings under the Patented Medicines

Increases to the merger notification thresholds under the Competition Act and the investment review threshold under the Investment Canada Act have been announced.

Competition Act

As published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on February 7, 2015, the pre-merger notification threshold relating to transaction-size for 2015 has increased to $86 million from the 2014

On December 9, 2014, Bill C-49, the Price Transparency Act, received first reading in the House of Commons. It proposes to amend the Competition Act in two respects.  First, it proposes price transparency measures, pursuant to which the Commissioner of Competition is (i) authorized to conduct inquiries to determine why a product or

On July 3, 2014, the Commissioner of Competition announced that changes to the Competition Bureau’s Corporate Compliance Programs Bulletin are planned.  The Bulletin was last amended in 2010 to address the 2009 and 2010 amendments to the Competition Act.

Areas under consideration for updating include:

  1. the appropriate role of a company’s chief compliance officer;