Overview of Consumer Protection in Canada Series – Introduction

The following series of 12 posts are a brief overview of the consumer protection legal framework in Canada, prepared using the material authored by Suhuyini Abudulai for publication on the website of the American Bar Association’s Consumer Financial Services Lawyers Young Lawyers page.

In addition to certain federal consumer protection legislation, each province and territory in Canada has consumer protection legislation in place governing transactions with consumers. Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories. The laws of the applicable jurisdiction within Canada must be considered when engaging in a consumer transaction. Canadian consumer protection legislation is not entirely harmonized. The Consumer Measures Committee (the “CMC”), was formed pursuant to the Agreement on Internal Trade (1994) with representation from officials of the federal, provincial and territorial government departments. It is a federal-provincial-territorial organization with a goal of coordinating consumer protection in the Canadian marketplace, including the harmonization of laws. To date the CMC has completed harmonization agreements on internet sales contracts, cost of credit disclosure, direct sellers regulation, and prohibited collection practices.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (the “FCAC”) is an independent body of the federal government. Among other responsibilities, the FCAC enforces consumer protection provisions in legislation governing federally regulated financial institutions. Each province and territory has a consumer affairs office that, among other responsibilities, enforces the respective provincial or territorial consumer protection laws.

 Though there are some similarities across the provinces and territories in Canada, given the lack of uniformity it is necessary to review each jurisdiction in determining the application of consumer protection laws and the required disclosure to be made to consumers to ensure compliance with the applicable law.

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