New consumer protection chapter in the Bank Act (Canada)

The Bank Act (Canada) (the “Act”) governs banks and federal credit unions in Canada. The March 2016 federal budget provides for a new chapter in the Act, consolidating the consumer protection provisions and providing guiding principles and rules. Further details on the chapter were not provided. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada will continue to administer the consumer provisions of the Act.

According to the federal government, this proposed amendment to the Act will “reaffirm the Government’s intent to have a system of exclusive rules to ensure an efficient national banking system from coast to coast to coast”. The reference to “exclusive rules” appears to imply the federal government may be responding to the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark ruling in Bank of Montreal v. Marcotte and the two companion cases, where the Supreme Court held that provisions of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act  apply to federally-regulated financial institutions. The federal government has stated that it will work with the provinces, territories and other stakeholders to support the implementation of the framework.

It is expected that the new chapter will provide uniformity, given the mix of legislation and regulation in place.

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