Ontarians Will Benefit From Stronger Consumer Protection in 2008

Archived Release

Ontarians Will Benefit From Stronger Consumer Protection in 2008

Ministry of Consumer Services

Numerous Consumer Protection Initiatives Improve The Lives Of Ontario Families QUEEN'S PARK, Dec. 31 - The McGuinty government has kept its promise to raise awareness of unfair business practices, Government and Consumer Services Minister Ted McMeekin said today. "We had made a commitment to improve consumer protection throughout the province and make Ontario families safer - and we delivered," said McMeekin. "This year has been an important one for initiatives like ensuring that payday lending customers are better informed so they can make better choices and banning expiry dates on gift cards." The government has taken a number of steps to protect consumers across the province - all under the framework of Ontario's consumer protection and safety legislation. Steps taken include: - Changes to the Liquor Licence Act to allow the licensing of additional areas of bars and restaurants so that patrons can monitor their drinks, as well as additional authority to suspend or revoke liquor licences - Real estate fraud provisions that protect homeowners from losing their property, a fraudulent sale, or a counterfeit power of attorney - New rules for consumer gift cards prohibiting expiration dates and fees other than for replacement of a lost card or to customize a card - Steps to combat identity theft by allowing consumers to request credit reporting agencies to place "fraud alerts" on their files - New payday lending requirements that ensure all payday lenders fully disclose the terms and conditions of their loans - New regulations requiring electrical products to be certified and labeled Contact Info Anyone with questions regarding these or other consumer protection initiatives should contact the province's toll free consumer hotline at 1-800-889-9768 (in Toronto at 416-326-8800), or visit the Ontario Consumer Protection website at ontario.ca/consumerprotection. Disponible en français www.mgs.gov.on.ca BACKGROUNDER ------------------------------------------------------------------------- CONSUMER PROTECTION IN ONTARIO The Consumer Protection Branch of Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is very active in investigating unfair business practices and bringing charges against suspect businesses violating consumers' rights. Operating with authority created under the Consumer Protection Act 2002, the branch has made significant contributions to over 930 convictions within the last four years. These convictions, sought through Ontario's provincial offences courts, are pursued according to several guiding principles that form the basis of all branch investigations: - marketplace fairness; - reliable disclosure; - fair value to consumers; and - a regulatory environment that is responsive to the needs of businesses and consumers. Engaging in unfair business practices is prohibited in Ontario. The Consumer Protection Act contains 92 separate sections under its regulations covering issues relevant to consumer agreements, including, but not limited to: - disclosures in various types of agreements; - cancellation rights; - timelines for receiving and issuing refunds; - monetary threshold for agreements; - calculation of annual percentage rates inside credit agreements; and - public record/disclosure of information. Anyone with knowledge of or information about the use of unfair business practices in Ontario should call the Consumer Protection Services Bureau toll-free at 1-800-889-9768. The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services works to ensure that Ontarians know their rights. There is a wide variety of consumer information, including printable brochures, available online at www.gov.on.ca/MGS. Another tool to educate consumers is the Smart Consumer Calendar updated annually with relevant information. The 2008 Smart Consumer Calendar provides consumers with helpful tips and resources, while educating them about frauds and scams in the marketplace. - The ministry will distribute 275,000 English and 30,000 French copies of the calendar to individuals and organizations across Ontario - The calendar will be available at all MPP constituency offices, and at all ServiceOntario/government information centres - The calendar can be ordered by individuals and groups, free of charge, by calling 1-800-668-9938, or by ordering online at www.serviceontario.ca/publications. - The calendar can also be downloaded from the ministry's website at www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection. Consumers can also visit the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services' website at www.gov.on.ca/MGS to access information to protect themselves against companies using unfair business practices. The Consumer Protection Branch posts information regarding consumer-related charges and convictions online at www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection. The Consumer Beware List, also posted online, is a public record database containing a comprehensive collection of operators and businesses in Ontario who are known to employ unfair business practices, or fail to respond to Consumer Protection Branch inquiries. Disponible en français www.mgs.gov.on.ca For further information: Media contacts: Greg Dennis, Minister's Office, Office: (416) 327-3072, Cell: (647) 281-4403; Ciaran Ganley, Communications Branch, (416) 325-8659 HELP | CONTACT US | PRIVACY | IMPORTANT NOTICES © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008-2009 — Last Modified: February 15, 2009 For further information: Media contacts: Greg Dennis, Minister's Office, Office: (416) 327-3072, Cell: (647) 281-4403; Ciaran Ganley, Communications Branch, (416) 325-8659