Merger review under the Competition Act (the “Act”) is undergoing significant change. As discussed in our previous blog post, the Federal Government has proposed significant amendments to the Act. These amendments, which are included in Bill C-56 and Bill C-59 (together, the “Bills”) and touch on virtually all facets of competition policy in Canada, represent “generational changes” that, according to the Government’s 2023 Fall Economic Statement, are intended to “help bring Canada into alignment with international best practices to ensure that our marketplaces promote fairness, affordability, and innovation”.Continue Reading Proposed amendments to the merger review process in Canada: Implications for businesses
Federal Government Releases Proposed Bill relating to Fall Economic Statement – including Significant Competition Act Amendments
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Revised text of Bill C-56 Released
On November 27, 2023, the Federal Government passed a Notice of Ways and Means Motion to introduce a bill entitled An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023, which was tabled on November 30, 2023 as Bill C-59 (the “Bill”). The Bill proposes amendments that implement some of the goals discussed in the 2023 Fall Economic Statement to strengthen competition in Canada (as discussed in our previous blog post).Continue Reading Significant Competition Act Amendments on the Horizon
As of October 27, 2023, Quebec has eliminated its unique regulatory system which previous applied to publicity contests which were offered in Quebec. In this regard, Bill 17: An Act to amend various provisions for the main purpose of reducing regulatory and administrative burden repealed the provisions of the Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests and amusement machines (the “Act”), and annulled the Rules respecting publicity contests (the “Rules”).Continue Reading Changes to Quebec Contest Rules
On November 21, 2023, the Federal Government released its 2023 Fall Economic Statement (the “Statement”). The Statement lays out the Federal Government’s multifaceted plan to improve housing in Canada, support the middle class, bolster the economy and create a stable financial sector. Additionally, the Statement outlines the Federal Government’s desire to strengthen competition in Canada through proposed amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”). More specifically, the Statement discusses changes aimed at combatting alleged dominance abuses by large companies, modernizing merger reviews, protecting consumers from misleading claims and enabling private entities to engage in legal proceedings related to anti-competitive practices. These changes, according to the Statement, “will help bring Canada into alignment with international best practices to ensure that our marketplaces promote fairness, affordability, and innovation.”Continue Reading Federal Government Releases Fall Economic Statement – with New Competition Act Amendments Previewed
On June 23, 2022, Bill C-19, also known as the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No.1 (the “BIA”), received royal assent. As discussed in our previous blog post, the BIA includes significant amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”), including with respect to abuse of dominance, which came into force in June 2022. On October 25, 2023, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) released a draft bulletin discussing its approach to the June 2022 abuse of dominance amendments (the “Draft Bulletin”). This blog post summarizes this new guidance.
By way of background, abuse of dominance under section 79 of the Act occurs when (i) a dominant firm or a dominant group of firms (ii) engages in a practice of anti-competitive acts, (iii) with the result that competition has been, is, or is likely to be prevented or lessened substantially in a market. Section 78 of the Act sets out a non-exhaustive list of examples of anti-competitive acts. Applications under the abuse of dominance provisions are heard only by the Competition Tribunal (the “Tribunal”). Where all three requirements of section 79 are met, the Tribunal may prohibit the anti-competitive conduct and may also direct the dominant firm to pay an administrative monetary penalty (“AMP”) or to take any action that is reasonable and necessary to overcome the anti-competitive effects of the conduct.Continue Reading Bureau Publishes New Abuse of Dominance Guidelines
The Dufresne Group (the “Group”), which operates Ashley Homestores and Dufresne Furniture and Appliances, must pay a substantial $3.25 million penalty, according to a statement from the Competition Bureau of Canada (the “Bureau”) released September 27, 2023. This settlement marks the resolution of concerns raised by the Bureau regarding the Group’s marketing practices.
The Bureau’s investigation into the Group’s marketing practices revealed a series of concerns related to the accuracy and honesty of their advertising claims. According to the Bureau, customers of Ashley Homestores were led to believe that they were benefiting from substantial discounts, based on assertions made through online platforms and various other advertising mediums within physical stores. Notably, the Bureau found that these apparent discounts were artificially exaggerated based on inflated regular prices, contrary to the ordinary price claims provisions of the Competition Act (the “Act”).Continue Reading The Dufresne Group Hit with $3.25 Million Penalty Amidst Competition Bureau’s Concerns Over Marketing Claims
On September 18, 2023, Bill C-352, which was introduced by Jagmeet Singh (leader of the NDP), had its first reading in the House of Commons (the “Singh Bill”). On September 21, 2023, Bill C-56, which was introduced by Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance), also received its first reading in the House of Commons (the “Government Bill”). Each of these bills includes significant proposed amendments to the Competition Act in response to the ongoing public consultation and legislation review process regarding competition policy in Canada.
While each of the bills share some similarities (including, for example, the introduction of market study powers and removal of the efficiencies defence), the bills include a number of different proposals and the Singh Bill includes overall more substantive recommendations for amendments to Canada’s existing competition law regime.Continue Reading Proposed Amendments to the Competition Act receive first reading in House of Commons
On September 14, 2023, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a public statement relating to issues of inflation, Canada’s middle class and competition policy. The statement was focused on measures which are aimed at reducing the cost of housing across Canada, supporting small businesses and addressing the escalating cost of groceries.Continue Reading Prime Minister Announces Proposed Competition Law Changes
On June 23, 2022, Bill C-19, also known as the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No.1 (“BIA”), received royal assent. As discussed in more detail in our previous blog post, the BIA included significant amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”), including the addition of new criminal cartel provisions prohibiting so-called wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements, which will become effective as of June 23, 2023. More specifically, these provisions will prohibit agreements between unaffiliated employers to either “fix, maintain, decrease or control salaries, wages or terms and conditions of employment” or “not solicit or hire employees”.Continue Reading Competition Bureau Issues Finalized Enforcement Guidelines for Wage-Fixing and No-Poaching Offences: What You Need To Know
On November 17, 2022, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, launched the much anticipated public consultation for potential amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”). As discussed in our previous blog post, this consultation was intended to serve as a wide-ranging review of existing competition policy in Canada, including whether the Act is fit for purpose in a modern economy that continues to evolve quickly.Continue Reading Competition Bureau Recommends Significant Changes to Competition Act