New act backs Canadian consumers

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February 5, 2015 9:07 AM

It’s not a secret that Canadians pay more for goods than their U.S. counterparts. Factors like transportation costs and currency exchange rates push the prices up for certain products that are bought by Canadian consumers.

But a lot of times the prices are inexplicably high, even up to 25 per cent more than they should be, and with introduction of the Price Transparency Act, the federal government is looking to curb the problem.

“I’ve heard a lot from consumers in my constituency, so I think this is an ideal time to do this,” said Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville–Wainwright.

“There are items where American companies charge more for Canadians buying it, with all of the adjustments made, charge more than they do to Americans, and that’s simply wrong.”

Introduced last December, the act will help against what’s called geographic price discrimination by giving the competition commissioner the means to look into such cases and report to Canadians on situations where the public have been “unfairly targeted” with increased costs on the same products.

Benoit said he’s already seen some progress on the issue with companies like Walmart and Costco, who have worked with the Canadian government on the subject.

“The prices have come closer together and that’s been, to my understanding, a long-term discussion between our government and them and we hope to bring all the other companies in now,” he said.

This price discrimination is not only seen as unfair, but also a major factor in the U.S.-Canada price gap. Benoit said he feels Canadians aren’t vocal enough as customers and that they should speak up when they are being slighted at the checkout lane.

“I just encourage consumers to be tougher consumers,” he said. “Don’t just accept prices they know are a lot higher than the United States when you make the dollar adjustment. Call me, call whoever your MP is, if you see cases where prices really are substantially higher, and we’ll see what can be done about it.”

Other measures Benoit recommended are to simply confront the manager, saying people might be surprised what can be done on that level.

Applying enough pressure on the local retailer may force them to go to their supplier to negotiate a more reasonable price on their products.

“I think consumers getting tougher is going to help turn this around,” he said.

The Price Discrimination Act was introduced on Dec. 9, 2014 and the government hopes to see it in effect before election time.

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