At the federal and local level, the battle for data access and protection is ongoing.
Following the most recent federal election in September 2021, pending legislative bills aimed at addressing data and privacy protection stalled, notably Bill C-11. Since then we’ve seen a version of this bill resurface (C-27), which as I write, is currently at a second reading in the House of Commons. Labeled the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022, this bill is multi-pronged and is aimed at strengthening Canada’s private sector privacy laws, as well as creating new rules around the development of artificial intelligence systems. For our sector, this is of relevance because it further advances the implementation of Canada’s digital charter around the issue of Right to Repair.
Significant for the aftermarket
There are a number of provisions within the bill related to data mobility, transparency, and access as well as proposed amendments to privacy obligations for small enterprises. This is of significance to the aftermarket because the majority of our industry is composed of small and medium-sized businesses. At AIA Canada, we have and continue to meet with department officials and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s office. And based on what we know so far, there is nothing to suggest that Right to Repair principles will be excluded from Bill C-27.
We also saw the introduction of Bill C-231, which is automotive-specific and would make amendments to the Competition Act. Tabled by MP Brian Masse, this bill is currently waiting another sponsor to move it through the Parliamentary Process, due to MP Masse having to focus on another piece of legislation directly impacting his riding. In parallel to C-231, we’ve also seen Bill C-244 which was also tabled earlier this year and specifically addresses Right to Repair. This one is progressing, and again, as I write this article, is currently at its second reading in the House of Commons. Although this particular bill is the avenue by which government will be collecting feedback on the issue of Right to Repair, the challenge is that it is broad in scope and doesn’t go far enough. Significant amendments will be needed to ensure it makes sense for our industry.
Through AIA Canada’s advocacy work, we continue to relay our message to government that with new vehicles collecting a tremendous amount of data via their telematics systems and transmitting that data wirelessly, we need to ensure that fair legislation is in place that would prevent vehicle OEMs from circumventing the sharing of data through new digital locks, or by creating new barriers or technology requirements to access that data. AIA Canada feels the best way to achieve a favourable outcome for the aftermarket is to create a parallel amendment to both the Competition and Copyright Acts. This would go a long way to addressing the systemic issues around data ownership, and essentially allow aftermarket service businesses to successfully compete in the automotive repair space with OEMs and franchised facilities. While we continue to actively encourage the government to consider incorporating amendments to Bill C-244 and have seen momentum building, we have to keep our foot firmly on the gas pedal—keeping the pressure up to ensure all political parties get behind this legislation.
Timing is critical, as it is expected that Bill C-244 will go to the committee for study this fall. To ensure a favourable outcome for our industry, however, we need to have support at a local grassroots level, and that means active member engagement with our MPs and demonstrating first-hand, the barriers we are facing and the resulting impacts on their communities. If we cannot mobilize a groundswell of support for fair Right to Repair legislation at the local level and show MPs the significant role our industry plays, we run the risk of OEMs monopolizing data access. If that happens, we will see limits to consumer choice, compromised essential vehicle repair and maintenance services, as well as major and negative impacts on livelihoods, transportation and the economy.
To learn more and get involved in AIA Canada’s campaign, please visit www.righttorepair.ca.