Vol. 148, No. 12 — June 4, 2014
SI/2014-46 June 4, 2014
FAIRNESS AT THE PUMPS ACT
Order Fixing August 1, 2014 as the Day on which the Act Comes into Force
P.C. 2014-562 May 15, 2014
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Industry, pursuant to section 30 of the Fairness at the Pumps Act, chapter 3 of the Statutes of Canada, 2011, fixes August 1, 2014 as the day on which that Act comes into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
This Order fixes the coming-into-force date of the Fairness at the Pumps Act (the Act). The Act, which received Royal Assent on March 23, 2011, includes amendments to the Weights and Measures Act and the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act. Pursuant to section 30 of the Act, the Governor in Council fixes August 1, 2014, as the day on which the Act comes into force.
The Act aims to reduce inaccurate measurements by measuring devices used in trade. The Act introduces amendments to the Weights and Measures Act and the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act in order to modernize the laws governing trade measurement. Fines for offences will be increased and a new fine for repeat offences will be added. These new fines for inaccurate measurement provided for under the Act are in line with those of most industrialized countries.
Administrative monetary penalties may be issued to promote compliance with the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act. These penalties will be less severe than fines. They will be a supplementary tool in improving compliance with the Weights and Measures Act, the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and their regulations.
The amendments to the Weights and Measures Act will allow for the introduction of mandatory periodic examinations of measuring devices like gas pumps and retail food scales. They also provide specific legislative authority for over 350 non-government inspectors to perform these examinations. However, government inspectors will remain responsible for the enforcement of the requirements of the Act. The amendments will also make retailers more accountable for the accuracy of their measuring devices.
These measures will act as a strong deterrent to those who use devices that do not measure accurately when selling goods and services. The Act confirms the Government’s commitment to protecting Canadian consumers.
Business and consumer confidence in the accuracy of the quantity of goods and services bought and sold on the basis of measurement is key to a fair, efficient and competitive Canadian marketplace. There is an expectation that consumers and small businesses will be protected from unscrupulous trade practices. Measurement compliance rates in the Canadian marketplace have declined between 4% and 7% since the early 1980s. Consumers and vulnerable parties believe that the Government should protect and advocate their interests. Stakeholders have repeatedly recommended that mandatory examination frequencies be reinstituted under the Weights and Measures Act.
The Act will strengthen consumer protection against unfair retailer practices and improve consumer confidence in the accuracy of financial transactions involving measurement by making it mandatory for owners to have their devices examined at regular intervals.
Mandatory periodic examinations are used by the majority of industrialized nations (e.g. France, Germany and most of the United States). In Canada, electricity and natural gas meters are subject to such examinations under the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act. Data collected by Measurement Canada (MC) shows that devices inspected at regular intervals measure more accurately.
The coming into force of the Act on August 1, 2014, will facilitate the implementation of mandatory periodic examinations and allow for traders to enter into agreements with authorized service providers (ASPs) for the mandatory examinations (in instances where agreements are not already in place). It will also give MC the ability to continue to improve the capacity of ASPs to perform mandatory examinations.
The Government of Canada has regulated trade measurement since 1871, and retains exclusive responsibility for weights and measures under section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
The cost-benefit analysis carried out in support of the Regulations Amending the Weights and Measures Regulations, introducing examination cycles of devices (SOR/2014-111), (see footnote 1) indicates that the estimated average annual cost for small businesses associated with examinations is $82.98. This amount represents the marginal cost related to exams.
For businesses without ongoing service contracts with ASPs, the incremental costs will be the full cost of the mandatory periodic examinations. The additional costs will vary from business to business within each category of trade. For example, MC estimates that a small grocery store with four scales would pay an ASP $450 to have its scales examined and certified. This works out to $112.50 per scale, or $22.50 per scale per year, since the examination frequency for the retail food trade is five years.
Furthermore, for device owners who have their devices serviced by ASPs, the only cost will be the cost of issuing the certificate of compliance.
In the eight categories of trade that will be subject to mandatory examination requirements, the costs of mandatory examinations will be very low relative to the economic size of the respective sectors. For example, the annual costs of mandatory examinations in the retail food trade could amount to $2 to $3 million. The sector’s sales and profits in 2008 were, respectively, $77.8 billion and $1.7 billion.
To cover the implementation of the Act and ensure proper monitoring of the work carried out by ASPs, MC’s budget has been increased by $8,050,000 over a period of five years. A $2,000,000 budgetary increase was provided for subsequent years. This funding will also allow MC to grow the capacity of ASPs to correctly perform mandatory examinations.
Since 2000, MC has carried out extensive consultations with consumers and owners of measuring devices used in trade. These consultations mainly dealt with the reintroduction of mandatory examination frequencies by using the services of ASPs. A consensus recommendation to reintroduce mandatory examination frequencies was reached by stakeholders from all the consulted sectors, which indicates that MC was possibly not able to meet the expectations of consumers with respect to the accuracy of measuring devices and fairness in the marketplace.
Feedback from the consultation on the proposed legislative amendments that was carried out in the summer of 2008, with large consumer associations and consumer protection directorates of provincial governments showed strong support for the proposed measures.