On August 20, 2020, the Canadian Competition Bureau (Bureau) released Strengthening Canada’s economy through pro‑competitive policies, a competition assessment toolkit (Toolkit) aimed at encouraging policymakers to consider competition-related issues while drafting policies, and assisting them with such consideration.
The Toolkit suggests a five-step process for all policymakers considering new policies or regulations:
- Identify the policy. Specify the goals the policy is designed to achieve and the instruments that will be used to achieve those goals.
- Assess whether the policy impacts competition. Specifically, identify whether with the policy:
- Businesses can easily enter and expand
- Businesses can freely set the price, quality and quantity of their products and services
- Businesses have a strong incentive to compete
- Consumers can easily switch between competitive alternatives
- Identify alternatives to address policy goals, if necessary. If the proposed policy restricts competition based on the indicators from Step 2, the policymaker should ask whether the restrictions are necessary, narrowly cast and proportionate.
- Implement the best alternative. Move forward with the policy alternative that achieves the policy goal in the most pro-competitive way.
- Conduct an ex-post assessment. Policymakers should monitor the marketplace effects of the implemented policy and should commit to review existing policies on a regular basis.
The Toolkit also includes examples of policies that, in the Bureau’s view, can harm competition, such as exclusivity provisions, license issuance limits, minimum infrastructure requirements and fixed prices or price ceilings.
The Toolkit provides an important reminder to businesses operating in Canada that the Bureau, in addition to its enforcement mandate, provides input to policymakers. Businesses affected by existing or proposed policies should proactively consider the Bureau’s policy-related activities and positions, including as reflected in the Toolkit, in advancing their position(s) before policymakers.
For further information, please reach out to your usual Blakes contact or any member of the Blakes Competition, Antitrust & Foreign Investment group.
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