Archived — AIT Annual Report 2007-2008

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Consumer-Related Measures and Standards (Chapter Eight)

Chapter Eight calls upon the Parties to report on and cooperate in the enforcement of consumer protection measures. As part of that agreement, the Committee on Consumer Related Measures and Standards (CMC), composed of officials of each government, undertook negotiations to reach agreement on specific commitments made under the AIT. This work was substantially completed in 1998. The CMC is tasked with monitoring the implementation and administration of these agreements.

The CMC is also responsible for identifying any substantive measures for inclusion in future negotiations, acting as a forum for discussions between the Parties on consumer-related measures, and undertaking dispute resolution.

In 2007/2008, progress under the Chapter included the following:

  • The CMC Identity Theft Working Group focussed principally on improving public awareness, by updating the Identity Theft Kit for Consumers and widely distributing the Identity Theft Checklist, a companion publication to the Kit. The distribution effort included provision of Checklists to police forces across Canada in early 2007, and participation in Fraud Prevention Month in both 2007 and 2008. Over 40,000 copies of the Checklist have been distributed during the past two years.
  • The CMC Consumer Reporting (which includes credit reporting) Working Group launched a public consultation in June 2007 on harmonizing technical elements of consumer reporting rules. The consultation closed on September 14th, 2007. The Working Group is currently analysing the results of the consultation and the substantial feedback provided by various stakeholders.
  • The CMC Alternative Consumer Credit Market Working Group carried out exchanges of information among jurisdictions to support the development of provincial payday lending laws. Preliminary research was carried out in regard to the availability of lower-cost alternatives to high-cost credit. Several provinces have passed legislation (Manitoba, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan) concerning payday loans and are developing regulations including maximum charges and licensing. Other jurisdictions have either introduced legislation or are launching public consultations for the development of measures to protect consumers of these loans in their jurisdictions (Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta). Provinces are building their regulatory frameworks on the amendments made to the Criminal Code by Canada last year.
  • The CMC Consumer Awareness Working Group has been working on a series of consumer information modules, including a multi-media presentation on being a wise consumer intended for people with low literacy levels, which will be ready this spring. The Working Group has also begun updating the Canadian Consumer Handbook for 2008-09.
  • The CMC Cost of Credit Disclosure Working Group continued its efforts to reach a conclusion on the dispute that arose in 2004 concerning the federal Cost of Borrowing (Banks) Regulations.
  • A CMC Enforcement Best Practices Research Group was set up to explore consumer law enforcement best practices. A survey of CMC member enforcement branches was completed. Benchmarking of enforcement practices used in other law enforcement agencies (domestic and international) will be carried out in the coming months.