Back to Specialty Food News

Ontario Proposes Price Gouging Protections

Legislation was introduced Monday in Ontario, Canada, 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, in a statement. “People deserve to shop with confidence when spending their hard-earned money on goods and services at home, online and in their communities.”

Consumer protection laws have not been comprehensively reviewed and updated since the Consumer Protection Act of 2002, according to a release on the government website. Since then, Ontario’s marketplace has transformed significantly with the rise of online shopping and mobile connectivity.

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 offenses and egregious business behavior.

“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,” said McCarthy.

The legislation would make it easier for businesses to comply with consumer protection rules in an increasingly digital-first marketplace by presenting 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 that would give Ontarians greater access to their credit information and greater ability to limit how their credit information is shared with third parties.

Related: Fed to Discuss Debit Card Swiping Fees; Amazon Reveals Humanoid Robot, Sorting Technology