TORONTO — The Ontario government is introducing legislation today that, if passed, would strengthen protections for Ontarians from unfair business practices such as price gouging, and make it easier for businesses to comply with consumer protection rules.
“Our government will not stand by and allow bad actors to take advantage of hardworking Ontarians through unfair business practices,” said Todd McCarthy, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery. “People deserve to shop with confidence when spending their hard-earned money on goods and services at home, online and in their communities.”
“By updating rules that protect them when they are shopping or entering contracts with businesses, we can better adapt to today’s evolving marketplace and build a smarter, safer, and stronger economy.”
Consumer protection laws have not been comprehensively reviewed and updated since the Consumer Protection Act, 2002, came into force in 2005. Since then, Ontario’s marketplace has transformed significantly with an increase in online shopping and the use of apps.
The Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act, 2023, builds on existing protections to strengthen consumer rights by:
- Prohibiting unfair business practices such as taking advantage of a consumer’s inability to understand language in a contract.
- Limiting when businesses can make one-sided contract amendments, renewals, and extensions without express consumer consent.
- Prohibiting businesses from creating unnecessary barriers when consumers are trying to cancel a subscription or membership-based contract.
- Providing fairer exit options to consumers and their families who find themselves locked indefinitely into a timeshare contract as well as homeowners tied to long-term leases for home comfort appliances like HVAC systems.
- Providing stronger enforcement powers to better enable the ministry to hold bad actors accountable including doubling maximum fines to further deter offences and egregious business behaviour.
The new Consumer Protection Act, 2023, would make it easier for businesses to comply with consumer protection rules in our increasingly digital-first marketplace. This includes a single set of core rules written in clear, simple language that would apply to most consumer contracts, whether for online or in-person purchases.
To prevent the harms that could be caused by identity theft, the proposed legislation would also make changes to the Consumer Reporting Act that would give Ontarians greater access to their credit information and greater ability to limit how their credit information is shared with third parties.
The government is also seeking public input on ways to address and reduce the harmful and inappropriate use of Notices of Security Interest (NOSIs) against unsuspecting consumers. A NOSI is a notice that can be registered on the land registry system by a business when it finances or leases certain equipment on a property such as an HVAC unit. In some cases, homeowners are not aware a NOSI has been registered on their title and businesses have charged them exorbitant fees to discharge the NOSI.
- The proposed Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act, 2023, introduces a new Consumer Protection Act that would amend the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 which governs most personal and household consumer transactions.
- The new Act reflects extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders over a three-year period and will make the marketplace easier to navigate for businesses and consumers alike.
“Under the leadership of Premier Ford, we are ensuring all Ontarians, including our seniors, are receiving the consumer protections they deserve. The new Consumer Protection Act will help empower our seniors to live in our communities as long as they want.”
– Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
“The Ontario Real Estate Association is a strong proponent of measures to improve consumer protection so people have peace of mind when acquiring home services or products. Ontario realtors commend the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery for updating protections on contract disclosure or leases to better safeguard consumers in the modern marketplace and enhancing the ability of businesses to meet their obligations. We look forward to seeing the positive effect this will have for future homebuyers across the province.”
– Tim Hudak
CEO, Ontario Real Estate Association
“Updating consumer protections to match the complexities of our modern marketplace is of the utmost importance for all Ontarians. We commend the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery and the Government of Ontario for taking an important and targeted next step to protect homeowners against fraudulent Notice of Security Interest (NOSI) schemes. Enercare continues to support efforts to target bad actors engaged in harmful tactics, while enhancing consumer protection and confidence. We look forward to continue working with the ministry throughout the regulatory consultation phase.”
– Nick Perreten
President and Chief Executive Officer, Enercare
“The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE) welcomes the new Consumer Protection Act that will strengthen and reinforce consumer rights and provide new effective remedies to seniors victimized by scams and frauds involving exploitative consumer transactions such as misleading contract terms. We look forward to working with the government on future regulations.”
– Graham Webb
Executive Director, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
“TransUnion is pleased to see the government taking action to update consumer credit reporting. Through an extensive consultation process, the Better for Consumers, Better for Businesses Act, 2023, will provide people with modern and enhanced tools for managing their credit information. We’re excited for changes that continue to empower consumers and help companies like TransUnion better serve Ontarians.”
– Clarke Cross
Director of Government Relations, TransUnion Canada
SOURCE Province of Ontario