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Let the Games Begin: Round Two of Competition Act Amendments

On November 17th, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced a comprehensive review[1] of Canada’s Competition Act. The review will look to improve “all the key areas of the competition framework”, including (but not limited to) the scope of the Competition Act, the enforcement methods and corrective measures at play, the role and powers of the Competition Bureau as the responsible enforcement agency, and the tools available to address competition in digital and data-driven markets.

The announcement comes on the heels of significant amendments to the Competition Act in June of this year[2], which marked the first substantial reform of Canadian competition law since 2009. These amendments made several targeted changes to the Competition Act, including significant increases to criminal and civil financial penalties, expanded investigatory powers for the Bureau, adjustments to strengthen enforcement in digital markets, and – critically – the criminalization of certain buy-side agreements between employers (which come into force in June 2023). However, as recently as October[3], the Commissioner of Competition has made clear that these changes should be treated merely as an “important steppingstone” toward more fundamental reform to Canada’s competition regime. It appears that after years of sustained advocacy, the Commissioner will get his wish.

The Minister’s review will be preceded by a consultation period, where interested parties – stakeholders, firms and the general public alike – can submit their views as to what changes are needed (if any). The Minister has requested that any submissions on the proposed overhaul be received by February 27, 2023. To the extent that you would like to participate in the consultation, members of our Competition/Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group are happy to discuss.