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Ontario Issues Consultation Paper on Consumer Protection Legislation

The Government of Ontario has issued a consultation paper (the “Paper”) seeking feedback on potential amendments to the Ontario Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (the “Ontario CPA”).  Comments are due March 17, 2023.

The Paper outlines a number of proposed amendments to the Ontario CPA that, if implemented, will have substantial impact on consumer-facing businesses:

Consumer Contract Requirements

  • Disclosure requirements: The Paper proposes consolidating and combining current contract disclosure requirements into “a single set of core rules” rather than have different rules apply to different types of contracts (direct, remote, internet, future performance, timeshare, personal development service, loan brokering, credit repair services and certain lease agreements).
  • Manner of disclosure: The Paper proposes “requiring that any necessary disclosures by businesses be provided or delivered to consumers in a manner that will likely come to the consumer’s attention.”
  • Consent requirement for amendments: The Paper proposes requiring explicit consent of the consumer to contract amendments subject to limited exceptions (such as where the amendment does not reduce the obligations of the supplier or increase the obligations of the consumer or if an amendment is required to comply with a new law (in which case, notice would be sufficient)).
  • Prohibited contract terms: The Paper suggests that some contractual terms can “mislead” consumers about their rights or “deter” them from posting fair reviews of services. In addition to the current requirement that any consumer contract cannot limit or waive any consumer rights, the Paper proposes prohibiting certain terms more expressly, including:
    • contract terms seeking to waive consumer rights, such as mandatory arbitration clauses, class action and court action waivers or clauses purporting to negate or vary any implied condition or warranty;
    • prohibitions on consumers’ rights to make reviews or comments;
    • limits on monetary liability when there has been a breach of implied warranties and conditions;
    • clauses that have the effect of allowing a supplier to acquire title to, possession of or any rights in any goods of the consumer, other than the goods passing to the consumer under the contract; and
    • clauses seeking to prevent a consumer from filing a complaint.

The proposed language of the terms could be interpreted in a relatively broad way, and may ultimately capture the “perceived effect” of a term. Such terms would be void and the consumer would have the right to cancel within one year of entering the contract if a contract contained any such term.

  • Price escalation clauses: The Paper raises the possibility of prohibiting blanket price escalation clauses and “allow(ing) price changes under contracts only if the consumer explicitly consents to them as amendments to the contract (in writing if the initial contract needed written consent) or if the contract also gives the consumer a right to cancel cost-free at any time.” The Paper notes that this would be addressed in regulation with further industry consultation at the regulation-making stage.
  • Subscription-based contracts: The Paper notes that in some cases it is more challenging to terminate a subscription-based contract than to enter into it, and seeks feedback on whether there should be amendments made “to address business practices that create barriers for consumers who wish to exit such contracts”.

Consumer Rights

  • Enhanced statutory refund right: The Paper proposes providing consumers the right to obtain three times the refund amount if a business does not provide the refund and the consumer is required to take legal action to obtain the refund. The purpose of the new terms is expressly to act as a deterrent, and the proposed treble damages would apply to any action brought in Superior Court. This may have an effect of magnifying potential class action damages in respect of any claims for statutory refunds by three-fold.

Unfair Practices

  • Additional unfair practices: The Paper proposes replacing the current prohibitions on unfair practices with more robust provisions that are aimed to address the current potentially vague interpretation of the sections with language that is “clearer and more prescriptive as to what constitutes unconscionable conduct”. The proposed language would set out a non-exhaustive but illustrative list of specific “prohibited unconscionable conduct”, including:
    • taking advantage of a consumer as a result of the consumer’s inability to protect their interests because of disability, ignorance, illiteracy, inability to understand the language of a contract or similar factors;
    • charging a price for a good or service that grossly exceeds the price of similar goods from similar suppliers, and entering into a consumer contract where it is known or reasonably knowable that the consumer will not be able to pay the full price charged;
    • using control of a consumer’s goods to pressure the consumer into renegotiating the terms of a consumer contract; and
    • charging a consumer for assistance obtaining any benefit, right or protection to which the consumer is entitled under the Ontario CPA, unless, before the consumer agrees to pay the charge, the person discloses, (i) the entitlement’s existence and direct availability to the consumer, and (ii) the cost, if any, the consumer would be required to pay for the entitlement if the consumer obtained the entitlement directly.

The Paper also proposes updating the list of “prohibited false, deceptive or misleading representations”, to include:

  • representations that goods or services are approved, licensed, endorsed or registered by a Canadian governmental entity when they are not,
  • representations as to the condition of a consumer’s goods, if the representation is inaccurate, and
  • representations, including a representation that a consumer has won or is eligible for a prize, that misrepresent the purpose or intent of any solicitation of or any communication with a consumer.
  • Remedies in respect of unfair practices: The Paper proposes providing consumers with a right to rescind a contract the later of (a) one year after entering the contract or (b) one year after an unfair practice takes place.


  • Extension of compliance orders to intermediaries: The Paper proposes extending the compliance order powers to apply to intermediaries that facilitate another business’s contravention of the Ontario CPA (such as online platforms and billing services).

Industry-Specific Provisions

  • Long-term leases: The Paper identifies consumer protection concerns with respect to current lease buy-out practices (such as “full-cost termination”), and proposes that the Ontario CPA set out a new category of lease called a “purchase-cost-plus lease” being “a lease under which the total amount payable exceeds 90 per cent of the estimated retail value of the leased goods”. Certain prescribed disclosure requirements and a cooling off period of 10 days would apply to such leases.  In addition, termination costs would be prorated for early termination, similar to the current treatment of fees in connection with early termination of a credit agreement: “A consumer who ends a purchase-cost-plus lease early would only owe a portion of the cost of the leased item, which would take into consideration their payments to that point. A consumer would thus never owe more than the product’s retail price, including installation and other fees shown as part of the purchase price.” Finally, the Paper suggests providing lessors of such leases with the right to terminate optional services similar to the rights of borrowers.
  • Notices of security interests (NOSI): The Paper proposes requiring suppliers to discharge NOSIs for consumer goods within 15 days of the rescission, cancellation or termination of the underlying contract, as well as discharge any other prescribed registration. If the registration is not discharged, the consumer could then inform the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery and seek a compliance order to have it discharged.
  • Contract-breaking services: The Paper proposes prohibiting advance payments for contract-breaking services and only permitting payments for such once the consumer receives the outcome specified in the contract. A 10-day cooling off period for cancellation is also proposed. Contract-breaking would be defined as “services or goods that are intended to assist a consumer in having their obligations under a consumer contract terminated or reduced.”
  • Timeshare contracts: The Paper proposes providing timeshare owners who have owned their timeshare for at least 10 years the right to terminate with notice and capping cost to exit.

Finally, the Paper seeks feedback on any other “emerging issues, new challenges, or economic considerations about specific sectors, products or services”.

Please contact the authors for further information about how we can help your business. Our team of consumer protection experts would be pleased to assist in responding to the Paper or assessing your current consumer practices.



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