November 21, 2023 – Today the federal government released the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, including a roadmap for the future of the Competition Act with indications of reforms across abuse of dominance, merger enforcement, and consumer protection. Though the text of the proposed legislation has yet to be released, it appears to represent the most comprehensive proposed reforms to the Competition Act since its introduction in 1986.
“The direction on the future of the Competition Act in the Fall Economic Statement is a welcome sign that the government recognizes the role of competition in making life more affordable for Canadians,” said Keldon Bester, Executive Director of the Canadian Anti-Monopoly Project. “The government has an opportunity to reverse course on a body of law that has allowed consolidation and reduced choice for consumers across the economy. Making the most of that opportunity will mean a harder line against mergers in concentrated markets, empowering the Competition Bureau to stop abuses of corporate dominance, and allowing companies to challenge the anticompetitive activity they face when trying to operate their businesses. Initial signs from the government are very positive and CAMP looks forward to reviewing the proposed legislation in detail.”
The proposed legislation follows the government’s introduction and amendment of Bill C-56, which made interim amendments to the Competition Act focused on the efficiencies exemption for mergers, the ability of the Bureau to conduct market studies, and powers to respond to anticompetitive agreements. In order to secure NDP support for the bill, amendments were made to include stiffer penalties for anticompetitive conduct, greater independence for the Commissioner of Competition in launching market studies, and an expanded scope for the abuse of dominance provisions.