Bill C-56 is a positive step towards modernizing Canada’s outdated competition law

September 21, 2023 – Today Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled Bill C-56, the Affordable Housing and Groceries Act, following the government’s announcement last week that they would be introducing interim amendments to the Canada’s Competition Act. C-56 comes on the heels of yesterday’s release of Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada’s What We Heard Report, detailing the results of the government’s consultation on Canada’s weak competition law. Commentary from the Canadian public in that report lays out the situation plainly, pointing out “the ineffectiveness of the Act in preventing corporate monopolies and oligopolies, leading to challenges for Canadians such as higher costs, reduced choice, decreased innovation, and increased political power for large corporations.”

“This is a welcome step and evidence that the government is ready to take reform of Canada’s weak competition law seriously,” said Keldon Bester, Executive Director of the Canadian Anti-Monopoly Project. “We let big business write our competition law four decades ago and the results have been as expected: high concentration, high prices, and nowhere for Canadians to turn. The government has engaged in a meaningful consultation process, and we are glad to see them moving quickly to address longstanding issues with our law. Opposition parties are also making important contributions to this policy dialogue, with Ryan Williams’ Bill C-339 targeting the efficiencies defense for harmful mergers, and Jagmeet Singh’s Bill C-352 proposing material reforms to the Competition Act.”

Canadians are ready for stronger competition laws. Polling done earlier this year by advocacy groups OpenMedia and Ekō showed that 92% of Canadians believe that monopolies are driving up prices, and only 7% of Canadians believe our competition laws benefit consumers. Let’s hope Parliament listens.