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Price Transparency Act (Speech)

Speaking Points

The Honourable James Moore, PC, MP
Minister of Industry

Etobicoke, Ontario

December 9, 2014

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Bernard [Bernard Trottier, MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore], for the kind introduction.

And let me thank our host, Toys ‘R’ Us, for opening its doors to us this morning for this important announcement.

It’s a pleasure to be here to make this announcement on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Our government remains committed to supporting hardworking Canadians and their families. Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Harper announced new measures to help make life more affordable for Canadian families.

And today I am pleased to be here to make another announcement that will benefit Canadian families.

Canada and the United States share one of the longest borders in the world.

And 90 percent of Canadians live less than a two-hour drive from it.

Canadian consumers often head south across the border to do their Christmas shopping or to buy items—from sneakers to baby strollers to televisions—because they are cheaper.

But when they look at the price of the same goods here in Canada, consumers often feel ripped off.

It has been documented that, on average, Canadians pay roughly 15 percent more for goods in Canada compared to those available in the U.S.

  • A 1.5-litre bottle of shampoo—priced at roughly 30-percent higher in Canada than in the U.S.
  • A 46-inch LED TV—priced 13-percent higher in Canada than in the U.S.
  • An 81-milligram container of aspirin—roughly double the price in Canada.
  • Sneakers—sold for noticeably less in Buffalo, New York, than at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. Or in Bellingham, Washington, than in Langley, B.C.

Canadians have a right to ask, why?

This unexplained difference between Canadian and American prices for the exact same product is a frustrating and all-too-familiar reality for any Canadian who has ever shopped online or travelled to the United States.

It is called geographic price discrimination.

It involves charging Canadians more than Americans for the exact same product simply because of where we live.

These price differences are real, and they hurt the bottom line of hardworking families.

A recent study published by the American Economic Review, which reviewed 4,000 separate products, in both Canada and the United States, concluded that distributors or wholesalers are engaging in country pricing strategies.

Today, our government tabled legislation to do something about it.

I am pleased to announce that our government has introduced new legislation to help ensure that Canadian consumers are not unfairly charged more than Americans simply because we live in Canada.

The Price Transparency Act, tabled today in the House of Commons, will give Canada’s Commissioner of Competition the power to investigate price discrimination and expose it.

It will help ensure that Canadians pay a comparable price for comparable goods that they buy in Canada.

Let me be clear, this legislation will not set or regulate prices in Canada.

What it will do is create the tools necessary to investigate and expose cases of unjustified price discrimination that hurt Canadian families.

It is a reality that the prices of some goods in Canada are due to the legitimate costs of doing business on this side of the border.

Those factors do explain some of the price differences, but it is not the full story.

Geographic price discrimination is real, and it is a significant burden on the bottom line of Canadians and hardworking Canadian families.

Ultimately, consumers should know whether the differences between Canada and U.S. prices are justified.

The Price Transparency Act provides for balanced and measured action to help ensure Canadians pay the same price as Americans for the same product when there is no justification for a difference in price.

This legislation has the support of the Retail Council of Canada, which represents 45,000 retailers across Canada.

I am delighted the Retail Council’s President and CEO, Diane Brisebois, could join me here today.

The Price Transparency Act is also supported by Canada’s largest consumer groups, including the Consumers Council of Canada and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

To conclude, let me say our government knows that Canadians work hard to make ends meet and every dollar count. This announcement is another step our government is taking to put more money back into the pockets of hardworking Canadian families.

Our government is committed to putting Canadian consumers first.

Thank you to Toys ‘R’ Us for welcoming us here today.

Thank you all for coming.

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