Bill 29, which aims to protect consumers against programmed obsolescence and promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods, was tabled in the Quebec Parliament on June 1, and is a breath of fresh air for automotive aftermarket workshops.
This bill, which improves the Consumer Protection Act, represents a major step forward in guaranteeing access to the information needed to repair and maintain the goods they buy, especially motor vehicles.
Section 39.4 of the bill specifically addresses the automotive sector, as follows: “An automobile manufacturer must provide access to data on the automobile to its owner, long-term lessee or their agent for diagnostic, maintenance or repair purposes. The manufacturer cannot be released from this obligation under the third paragraph of section 39. Notwithstanding article 39.3, such access must be provided free of charge.”
Documents and information
Section 39.3 states that a merchant or manufacturer who is required to guarantee the availability of a spare part, repair service or information necessary for the maintenance or repair of a good under the first paragraph of section 39 must make it available at a reasonable price.
The issue of free or reasonably-priced access to the information needed to maintain or repair a vehicle will certainly be discussed as the bill progresses, when work resumes in the autumn.
This is a significant step forward, and fits in perfectly with the lobbying efforts of both AIA Canada, at the federal level, and its Quebec division in our province. Prior to the tabling of Bill 29, we held numerous meetings with elected officials and civil servants involved in this issue, notably at the Quebec Ministry of Justice.
A challenge for consumers
What next? Carmakers will certainly have reservations, as they have elsewhere in the world where the right to repair is part of the public debate. However, the movement is already underway, with some regions of the world—and the whole of Australia—now demanding full access to the data needed by independent workshops.
There’s no doubt in my mind that consumers should have the right to have their vehicles repaired wherever they choose. If the Quebec government has clearly set out its objectives for decarbonizing transport, with a particular focus on electric vehicles, it needs to give us the means to make good on them.
And in the face of possible objections from automakers, who will cite security factors to limit access to our customers’ vehicle data, our expertise speaks for itself.