Recently, the Competition Bureau (the "Bureau") issued a news release soliciting feedback from stakeholders regarding two of its newest advocacy initiatives:
- Opportunities where the Bureau can support increased competition through changes to regulations or policies; and
- Input on the Bureau's draft Market Studies Information Bulletin (the "Bulletin").
Supporting Increased Competition
Using the Advocacy Suggestion Form, the Bureau is collecting perspectives on areas in which it could advocate for increased competition and innovation. Specifically, the form seeks input on sectors that should be examined, as well as the competitive issues or harms in the sectors. In investigating these two items, the Bureau is best able to act on inputs that address:
- regulations or policies that make it difficult for businesses (including new or disruptive business models) to emerge or compete; and
- factors that make it difficult for consumers to switch products or services, or to make informed choices.
Upon identifying barriers to competition, the Bureau can make recommendations to regulators or policymakers on how to reduce or remove these barriers to promote competition.
Market Studies Information Bulletin
Most competition issues directed to the Bureau's attention are first evaluated as potential enforcement matters, specifically to determine whether they may contravene the Competition Act (the "Act"). Where there is no obvious violation of the Act, and yet impediments to competition appear to exist in a given sector, the Bureau may use a market study to examine those impediments.
The Bureau generally researches and evaluates several potential sectors before undertaking a market study. When possible subjects for a market study have been identified, the Bureau may consult with stakeholders to obtain additional views on the appropriateness of the market studies under consideration. At this stage, the Bureau will also conduct research to better understand the sectors being considered and any potential competition concerns. The Bulletin explains how market studies are selected and conducted as well as how confidential information obtained from participants is treated. Following the publication of a market study report, the Bureau may monitor actions by regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders to see whether changes (if any) are made in line with the Bureau's recommendations, and the impact such changes appear to have on the sector.
Previous market studies have considered the following sectors: generic drugs (2007); self-regulated professions such as accountants, lawyers, optometrists, pharmacists and real estate agents (2007) followed by a post-study assessment (2011); beer (2013) and FinTech (2017).
Comments on the Bulletin must be submitted to the Bureau by Friday, June 29, 2018. Please contact our team at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP to prepare submissions and effectively advocate on your behalf to the Competition Bureau.
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