In December 2020, the Ontario government invited comments on how to improve the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The CPA governs most retail consumer transactions, providing them certain safeguards and remedies. A full review of CPA was long overdue with the government’s last such review happening over 15 years ago. PIAC welcomed this review and commented to express support for most of the proposals. These proposals, if implemented should greatly enhance the protections available to consumers. PIAC also suggested various additional safeguards. See our submission for more details.
PIAC supports measures for Improving Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act
In December 2020, the Ontario government invited comments on how to improve the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The CPA governs most retail consumer transactions, providing them certain safeguards and remedies. A full review of CPA was long overdue with the government’s last such review happening over 15 years ago. The consultation paper provided many proposals regarding simpler and stronger contract rules, improved protection against unfair practices, better rules for specific contracts, such as purchase cost plus leases, timeshare agreements, and more proposals to strengthen basic consumer rights and provide stronger and clearer rights to remedies.
PIAC supported most of the proposals, which should greatly enhance the protections available to consumers, if implemented. Some of our key submissions are noted:
- We supported combining the written contract disclosure rules for internet, remote and future performance agreements into a single set of core rules. We also highlighted the challenges that should be considered if this measure is applied.
- We generally agreed with the proposed provision to only allow a consumer contract to be changed if the consumer expressly consents in writing or the business sends advance notice, and suggested additional safeguards regarding advance notice and the scope of changes.
- We supported the provision that automatic renewal should only occur if the consumer has an ongoing ability to cancel at no cost later and suggested some safeguards.
- We supported adding more examples of expressly forbidden misleading practices. We encouraged the ministry to regularly review this list and update it as necessary.
- We strongly supported banning advance payment for contract breaking and exit offers, including timeshare exit and home fixture lease breakers.
- The purchase-cost plus leases present many challenges for consumers, thus, we certainly supported having a cooling-off period for such leases, regardless of how and where they were entered into.
- We supported several proposals made for protecting consumers in relation to timeshare agreements, including having an exit option.
- We agreed with the proposal to forbid contract terms that prohibit consumers from publishing fair reviews of the business or its goods or services or impose charges on consumers for the contents of such reviews, and suggested additional measures.
- We strongly supported prohibiting contract terms that suggest a consumer has waived any CPA legal right, such as the right to join a class action and the right to enforce one’s rights in court.
- We supported extending the CPA remedy for unfair practices that occur after entering a contract, and it should be available until the later of one year after entering the contract and one year after the unfair practice ensued.
Read our full submission here