Driving competition for Canadians

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Competition for the Year Ending March 31, 2019

February 25, 2020

Message from the Commissioner

Matthew Boswell

Strong, vigorous competition benefits all Canadians. At the most basic level, competition is the force that drives us to do better. It leads to better choices, better prices, innovative products and services and creates consumer trust by ensuring accurate information in the marketplace. It leads to a stronger economy where businesses push each other to innovate to offer the best they can while consumers are better off and more confident in their spending. The Competition Bureau works tirelessly to enforce and promote Canada's competition and labelling laws so Canadians have confidence and trust in the rapidly expanding and ever-evolving digital economy.

Competition ensures that consumers always have choices, allowing them to reward companies that earn their business and trust. By providing the freedom to choose, competition forces companies to fight for every consumer, protecting those same consumers from being taken for granted by entrenched players that get too comfortable.

In 2018‑19, we continued to bring the benefits of competition to Canadians through our actions as highlighted below and further in this report.

In a big win for consumers, and innovation, through hard work and perseverance we prevented the Toronto Real Estate Board from withholding its real estate data from agents who wanted to use that data to offer innovative online services. For most of us, buying a home is one of the biggest decisions of our lives and this outcome will make it easier for realtors to innovate and to improve the quality of and types of services offered to consumers.

We took action against deceptive online marketing in the rental car industry so consumers can trust that the advertised price is genuine. We continued to hold the pharmaceutical industry under the microscope to prevent potentially harmful conduct. We worked hard to safeguard taxpayer dollars with our ongoing investigations into bid‑rigging involving Quebec infrastructure projects, sending a clear message to potential offenders that there is a price to be paid for engaging in anticompetitive behavior.

We also launched a market study to assess the current state of competition in the broadband sector. By better equipping regulators and policymakers, the study will help Canadians benefit from competitive high-speed Internet options.

We are proud of all that we achieved in 2018‑19; however, we know there is much work to do in the year ahead as we protect and support Canadians through active enforcement and advocacy.

I look forward to guiding the Bureau as we continue to build a culture of competition in Canada that leads to increasing consumer confidence, particularly in the rapidly evolving digital economy, supporting innovation, and ensuring that Canadians benefit from all that competition brings to the Canadian economy.

Matthew Boswell
Commissioner of Competition


Who we are

Our responsibilities

Headed by the Commissioner of Competition, the Competition Bureau administers and enforces the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (except enforcement as it relates to food), the Textile Labelling Act and the Precious Metals Marking Act (collectively referred to as the Acts).

Our vision

To be a world-leading competition agency, one that is at the forefront of the digital economy and champions a culture of competition for Canada.

Our mission

To promote and protect competition for the benefit of Canadians, the Bureau will administer and enforce the Acts with fairness and predictability, to:

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We are Canada's Competition Bureau

Our structure

Our organization is headquartered in Gatineau, Quebec, and has regional offices in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Competition Bureau Office Locations

Budget and people

Budget and people
Budget and people

Budget for 2018‑19: $52.6M

Full-time employees: 370

Branches

Enforcement branches

Cartels and Deceptive Marketing Branch
Mergers and Monopolistic Practices Branch

Enforcement support branches

Competition Promotion Branch
Corporate Services Branch

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Financial snapshot

The Bureau's budget for 2018‑19 was $52.6M, including $15M from user fees.Footnote 1

Expenditures were $52.7M, consisting of $35.5M in salary for 370 full-time equivalent employees and $17.2M in non-salary expenses.

Table 1 presents the Bureau's authorized budget and expenditures for the year.

Table 1: Authorized budget expenditures for 2018‑2019
Fiscal Year 2018‑19 Budget Expenditures
Salary $34,858,624 $35,522,446
O&M $17,616,306 $17,010,265
Capital $170,000 $147,907
Total $52,644,930 $52,680,618

Figure 1 illustrates the Bureau's spending trend for the past five years.

Spending trend for 2014-15 to 2018‑19Footnote 2

See summary below

The Bureau's spending trend for the past five years.
Fiscal year $ (millions)
* Increase in merger filing fee.
2014‑2015 48.3M
2015‑2016 47.6M
2016‑2017 47.9M
2017‑2018 48.6M
2018‑2019 52.6M *

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Year at a glance 2018‑19

Year at a glance 2018-19 cover

In 2019, the Bureau released its year at a glance 2018‑19, highlighting some of the Bureau's work over the past year. Our work addressed competition concerns in sectors that have a direct impact on Canadians, including the digital economy, infrastructure, telecommunications, agriculture, and airlines.

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Increase compliance

Robust and healthy competition benefits everyone: consumers, businesses, and the economy as a whole. By increasing compliance with Canada's competition laws, the Bureau works to help prevent and address anti-competitive activity such as abuse of dominance, price-fixing, bid‑rigging, mergers that stand to substantially lessen or prevent competition, and deceptive marketing practices.

Competition and innovation in the the digital economy

Putting the digital economy in the spotlight

Digital economy cases
Digital economy cases

Commenced: 35

Concluded: 30

Ongoing: 24

The Bureau's work increases trust in the digital marketplace by strengthening compliance with Canada's competition laws. A strong, competitive digital marketplace is essential to the well-being of Canadians and the affordability of products and services.

Competition in action

Bringing clarity to streaming services

In September 2018, the Bureau spearheaded the annual International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network internet sweep. This year, there was a focus on terms and conditions in the digital economy. Following this sweep, the Bureau issued letters to operators of online video-streaming services in Canada, advising them to review their marketing practices and related terms and conditions, to follow best practices, and comply with the law. Under the Competition Act, terms and conditions cannot be used to hide the real meaning of a marketing message or to bury important information, such as the true cost of a service.

Increasing access to innovative real estate services

Buying or selling a house is one of the most financially significant decisions for many Canadians, who generally use a real estate agent or broker to help. Having access to real estate data is critical, which usually includes current property listings and historical sales data, such as sold prices. In a big win for competition and innovation, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the Toronto Real Estate Board's (TREB) application in August 2018, which sought to appeal earlier decisions that required TREB to remove anti-competitive restrictions that prevented its members' from accessing and using real estate data in innovative ways. The decision gives home buyers and sellers in Canada's largest real estate market access to a greater range of innovative service options, delivered through greater competition among TREB's members.

Providing advice to influencers

In a recent edition of the Deceptive Marketing Practices Digest, released June 2018, we provided advertisers with advice to help ensure that the representations they make to the public are truthful and presented in a way that consumers can understand. We explored three marketing practices: influencer marketing, "Made in Canada" claims, and savings claims.

Each of these can have an influence on consumers and the decisions they make. Consumers rely on the opinions and reviews shared online by influencers and believe they are genuine and impartial. They believe that Made in Canada claims signify something important about the level of Canadian manufacture that goes into a product, and when retailers make savings claims, consumers believe they are legitimate.

Competition and innovation in the health and biosciences sector

Putting health and biosciences in the spotlight

Health and biosciences
Health and biosciences

2 guidance documents published in the health-biosciences sector

19 meetings with domestic and international agencies or regulators in support of competition and innovation in the health-biosciences sector

The health and biosciences sector is a significant contributor to Canada's economy. It contributed $7.8 billion to Canada's annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016, as part of the broader health care ecosystem that represented 11% of Canada's annual GDPFootnote 3. Fostering innovation and competition in the health and biosciences sector is crucial. Competition drives innovators to produce advanced health care solutions and technologies. It also provides Canadians with lower prices and increased choices for products related to their well-being.

Competition in action

Monitoring the biologic and biosimilar industry

In February 2019, we completed our investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance by Janssen Inc., a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson. The Bureau's investigation considered whether Janssen was engaging in conduct that shielded its biologic drug, Remicade, from competition from biosimilar drugs such as Inflectra and Renflexis. This included allegations of predatory pricing, as well as other conduct that could exclude or disadvantage biosimilar competitors.

While the Bureau concluded that there was no evidence to demonstrate Janssen's conduct had substantially lessened or prevented competition, we will continue to monitor the Canadian biologic and biosimilar industry closely to respond to developments that have the potential to disrupt competition in this critical sector of our economy. Although biosimilar drugs are relatively new in Canada, they are likely to play an important role in keeping health costs down in the future. Biosimilar drugs provide patients with safe and effective treatment options at prices often far lower than that of an original biologic. The Bureau will not hesitate to take appropriate action to maintain and promote competition in the pharmaceutical industry.

Maintaining drugstore competition

In April 2018, the Bureau reached an agreement with METRO Inc. (Metro) in regards to its acquisition of The Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. The agreement addressed competition concerns focused on pharmacy distribution and franchising services in certain local markets in Quebec. The Bureau's review found that the merger would have likely led to substantially higher prices or decreases in services for consumers related to the purchase of medications and other pharmacy products in eight regions in Quebec. As part of the agreement, Metro agreed to sell certain properties or lease to alternative distributors to preserve competition in the identified regions.

Investigating abuse of dominance in the pharmaceutical industry

When businesses set up roadblocks to prevent competitors from getting their products to market, the Bureau takes notice. In the pharmaceutical industry, this is critical because competition ultimately leads to more affordable drugs for Canadians.

In December 2018, we closed our investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance by certain brand name drug manufacturers, including Celgene Inc., Pfizer Canada Inc. and Sanofi-Aventis Canada Inc. We investigated policies and practices that were alleged to restrict generic drug manufacturers from accessing samples of brand name drugs. After a careful review of the facts, we found that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that competition had been substantially lessened or prevented. While we concluded this investigation, this type of alleged conduct may warrant further enforcement or advocacy action in the future.

Cartels and bid‑rigging

Cartel and bid‑rigging Investigations
Investigations / fines and settlements

Investigations

Commenced: 13

Closed: 12

Ongoing: 40


bid‑rigging fines and settlements

1.3 million in fines

5.9 million total settlements pursuant to section 34 (2) and 34 (2.1)

Bid‑rigging refers to a tainted tendering process that often results in higher prices and lower quality goods and services. Bid‑rigging is a conspiracy among potential suppliers that occurs when there is a call for tenders to fulfill a contract. In other words, it increases costs and stifles free-market competition.

Competition in action

Car parts manufacturer pays a hefty fine for bid‑rigging

In October 2018, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rendered the thirteenth and final guilty plea in a series of international bid‑rigging conspiracies among car parts suppliers. Japanese car parts manufacturer INOAC Corporation was ordered to pay $1.3 million for its role in an international bid‑rigging conspiracy. A Bureau investigation determined that INOAC entered into illegal agreements with a competing Japanese parts manufacturer. The companies conspired to determine who would win certain calls for bids issued by Toyota in 2004 for the supply of plastic interior car parts. The parts were used in Toyota Corollas manufactured and sold in Canada between 2008 and 2014.

The Bureau's investigation into the series of international bid‑rigging conspiracies among car parts suppliers led to fines totalling more than $86 million, including three of the largest bid‑rigging fines ever imposed by the courts in Canada: $30 million (Yazaki Corporation), $13.4 million (Mitsubishi Electric) and $13 million (Showa Corporation).

Safeguarding federal infrastructure investments

Criminal bid‑rigging schemes lead to increased costs in infrastructure projects, which waiver Canadian trust in government investments. It hurts Canadian taxpayers' pockets, making contracts more expensive than they should be.

The Bureau safeguarded government infrastructure spending through its large-scale investigation into municipal contracts in Quebec. The Bureau uncovered a bid‑rigging scheme that targeted municipal infrastructure contracts awarded from 2002 to 2011 in the cities of Québec, Laval and Gatineau, as well as certain municipalities in the Montreal region, the period varying for each municipality and city. The Bureau and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada reached a settlement with Genivar (now WSP Canada) and the firm was ordered to pay $4 million. As part of another settlement, Dessau, a Quebec-based engineering firm, was ordered to pay a $1.9 million settlement for its participation in the same scheme. In January 2019, Dessau's former Director and Assistant Vice-President, Outaouais, received a 12-month sentence, including 6 months of house arrest and 6 months under curfew, after pleading guilty for his involvement in the conspiracy. These outcomes shows that there is a significant price to pay for rigging bids.

Ensuring fair and transparent processes in the infrastructure sector

By building relationships with public procurement authorities, the Bureau can further strengthen mutual efforts to protect public contracts from bid‑rigging and other criminal cartel activities. In December 2018, we signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Defence Construction Canada (DCC) to enhance cooperation as both agencies work to ensure fair and competitive public procurement processes.

The Bureau conducted 12 promotional activities related to the Federal Contracting Fraud Tip Line to encourage those who witness or suspect unethical business practices in federal contracting to report it.

Credible, effective compliance programs

Effective outreach activities
Effective outreach activities

14 bid‑rigging presentations

26 compliance outreach events

2 compliance publications

Through our outreach activities, we promote competitive markets that work well for Canadians by providing businesses with valuable information to help them comply with Canada's competition laws.

By providing small- and medium-sized businesses with knowledge and tools to develop or strengthen their compliance programs, we help prevent anti-competitive practices from taking place. In 2018‑2019, we have participated in 26 compliance outreach events.

Revised Immunity and Leniency Program

To enhance our ability to detect, investigate and prosecute unlawful conduct, in September 2018 we launched a revised Immunity and Leniency Program, in collaboration with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. These programs encourage targets to cooperate with our investigations. Cooperating witnesses could receive immunity or leniency in return. The updates ensure that the programs keep pace with the evolving competition law environment and reflect a commitment by the Bureau and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to provide clarity, predictability and transparency for potential applicants.

Merger reviews

Merger reviews concluded
Merger reviews concluded

Total: 209

Non-complex: 142

Complex: 67

Mergers can be a positive way to increase competitiveness throughout the Canadian economy. In those rare instances where transactions give rise to serious competition concerns, the Commissioner will take appropriate action to ensure that competition is preserved.

Competition in action

Protecting competition in the agriculture industry

In November 2018, the Bureau helped maintain competitive prices and product choice for farmers in Ontario, by reaching an agreement with La Coop fédérée (LCF), the largest agri-food enterprise in Quebec, with respect to its acquisition of Cargill Limited's Ontario grain business. Our review concluded that within certain local areas of southwestern and central Ontario, the proposed transaction would likely substantially lessen competition in the retailing of crop inputs, and specifically fertilizers and crop protection products. As part of the agreement, LCF agreed to sell their retail stores in Alliston, Harrow, Tilbury, and Waterford.

Providing input on competition in the airline industry

Many communities in the North rely on air services due to the large geographic areas and limited road infrastructure in certain areas. These services play an important role in economic development, interconnectedness among communities, and the supply of food, healthcare and other goods and services. In February 2019, the Bureau issued a report to the Minister of Transport that outlined competition concerns regarding a merger between two Northern Canadian airlines: First Air and Canada North. We noted in the report that the effects of the transaction were likely to include reductions in passenger and cargo capacity, increases in price, and reductions in flight schedules. This was the first time that the Minister of Transport directed a public interest review of a proposed transaction involving a transportation undertaking. It also marked the first time that the Commissioner was required to provide such a report and subsequently an assessment of proposed undertakings to address his concerns.

Deceptive marketing practices

The Bureau promotes truth in advertising by discouraging deceptive business practices and empowering consumers to make informed choices.

Competition in action

Building confidence in online pricing

Consumers should have confidence that the prices advertised online are the ones they will actually pay. Drip pricing is a practice where extra fees are added during the online buying process, causing the final price to be much higher than originally advertised.

In 2018‑19, we continued to investigate drip pricing in the rental-car industry. We found that Discount Car & Truck Rentals Ltd. (Discount) advertised rental prices that were unattainable due to mandatory fees added later during the purchasing process, among other misleading representations. Because of our findings, Discount paid a $700,000 penalty and agreed to review its business practices to comply with the law. This was the fourth agreement in a series of investigations by the Bureau related to drip pricing practices by car rental companies. In total, these investigations have led to $5.95 million in penalties and an online marketplace that Canadians can trust.

The Bureau continued its ongoing litigation against Ticketmaster, Live Nation and affiliated companies. Our investigation targets potential deceptive claims made by the companies about the price of sports and entertainment tickets.

Natural health products: weight loss claims

In February 2019, the Bureau called on all sellers and marketers of natural health products in Canada to review their practices and ensure that weight loss claims are not false, misleading or unsubstantiated. We issued this warning to ensure businesses are compliant with the Competition Act when marketing these products. In collaboration with Health Canada, the Bureau will continue to work to help protect Canadians against deceptive marketing related to health products. The Bureau will also continue to monitor the marketplace carefully.

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Empower Canadians

Results of empowering Canadians on fraud
Results of empowering Canadians on fraud

47 million views for Fraud Prevention Month

15.53% increase in social media followers

740,880 visits to the Bureau's website

When consumers and businesses can recognize and report fraudulent activity, they also become key contributors in helping to prevent it. In addition to enforcing our legislation to detect, prevent, and deter anti-competitive conduct and reviewing mergers to ensure they do not harm competition, the Bureau works to empower Canadian consumers and businesses so that they can better protect themselves against potential scams.

This year marked the 15th anniversary of the Fraud Prevention Month campaign. In partnership with the Fraud Prevention Forum members, the Bureau led the campaign directed at consumers and businesses to promote awareness and understanding of the dangers of fraud.

As part of its activities, the Bureau distributed 150,000 copies of The Little Black Book of Scams nationally, produced three new videos based on the Book's content and translated it into the six most spoken non-official languages in Canada: Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Tagalog, Spanish and Arabic. The Bureau also launched a webpage to help businesses fight fraud and distributed receipt paper and bookmarks bearing fraud-fighting tips in libraries throughout Canada.

The Bureau hosted 12 in-person presentations for seniors, new Canadians and students. It also participated in press conferences and consumer-facing events with forum members such as the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C., the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Option consommateurs and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. The Bureau leveraged traditional and social media to increase awareness. Our social media campaign reached over 6.5 million social media users Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Competition in action

Alerting Canadians consumers and businesses

The Bureau published 13 consumer and business alerts informing Canadian consumers and businesses on issues that matter to them. For instance, in the peak of moving season, we posted an alert on rental scams, to ensure that students are aware of fraudsters and fake rental advertisements that could potentially scam them into giving money for security deposits or first month's rent. We also posted an alert on International Day of Charity to make Canadians aware of charity scammers – who pose as agents of valid, well-known charities or fake charities to convince Canadians to donate money.

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Promote competition

Competition drives innovation, in turn enhancing productivity, increasing choice, and advancing cutting-edge technology. Unnecessary regulation can stifle innovation and slow Canada's economic growth. As Canada's competition experts, our role is to provide forward-thinking advice to regulators and policy-makers to give innovation the fuel it needs to thrive.

Competition in action

Examining broadband internet services in Canada

Canadian broadband sector survey results
Canadian broadband sector survey results

42,000 responses to survey

Every day, Canadians rely on broadband services to connect with their peers, make purchases, or run their business. To foster competition in the telecommunications sector, the Bureau launched a market study to investigate consumer habits in purchasing internet services. The study focuses on the current state of competition in the Canadian broadband sector. In support of the market study, the Bureau launched a public consultation survey in October 2018 to learn about consumer habits in purchasing internet services, which received over 42,000 responses from Canadians. This feedback helps the Bureau detect certain trends and focus in on what matters most to Canadians.

A fairer telecommunications landscape

Canadian telecommunications landscape
Canadian telecommunications landscape

9 general advocacy interventions

17 FinTech focused interventions

8 representations before regulatory bodies

Last spring, the Government of Canada expressed concerns on mobile phone service affordability. In response to these concerns, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) launched public consultations. The Bureau provided advice by writing five formal submissions to the CRTC, to support competition in telecommunications services for Canadians.

Shining a light on progress in the FinTech sector

In 2017, after an extensive 18-month study of the industry, the Bureau published its FinTech Market Study Report in which it made 30 recommendations to Canada's regulators and policy-makers. In September 2018, we released a progress report, which highlighted how regulators and policy-makers put some of our recommendations into practice.

In an effort to promote tech-led innovation in the financial service sector, the Bureau made submissions to other Canadian federal and provincial regulators, including the Department of Finance's consultation Reviewing Canada's Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Regime, their consultation on the Merits of Open Banking, and to the British Columbia Securities Commission's Securities law Framework for FinTech Regulation. The Bureau also appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on the potential benefits and challenges of open banking for Canadian financial services consumers. It is clear that a real transformation is taking place, and the Bureau looks forward to seeing the evolution and growth of the FinTech sector.

Bringing competition into focus

In July 2018, the Bureau released "Bringing Competition into Focus", an advocacy piece examining regulations governing Canada's prescription eyewear industry and their impact on consumers' ability to get prescription eyewear online. In this edition, we called on governments and regulators to ensure regulations are based on evidence and strictly necessary to address legitimate public policy concerns. Competition in the eyewear industry should not be harmed by overly restrictive rules.

Encouraging pro-competitive regulation

As part of British Columbia's liquor policy review, the Commissioner sent an open letter to regulators in British Colombia asking them to consider the principles of competition while reviewing their liquor policy. British Columbia's liquor policy is restrictive on hospitality retailers, which means private liquor distributors cannot sell their products to restaurants, bars and hotels. Hospitality retailers can only buy their alcohol products from government-owned stores at retail prices. This policy restricts competition: it raises prices and limits the selection of products. Allowing hospitality retailers to buy alcohol products from private distributors could help reduce their costs and lead to lower prices and more choices for consumers.

On another matter, the Bureau urged policy-makers in British Columbia to rethink and improve provincial taxi regulations by applying the principles of competition. In line with its report on Modernizing Regulation in the Canadian Taxi Industry, the Bureau encouraged B.C.'s Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations to level the playing field for taxis and ride-sharing providers.

Transparent communication

We continually strive to be more transparent, open, and welcoming to discussion and collaboration. This instills confidence, raises awareness and ensures accountability. Last year, we committed to bolstering transparency in our organizational policies and processes. We updated guidelines, increased collaboration, and opened discussions on competition issues.

Competition in action

Updated Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines

In November 2018, the Bureau published a draft version of the revised Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines (IPEGs) and invited interested parties to provide comments. A few months later, we released the final version with integrated feedback from our stakeholders. The updated document clarifies the Bureau's approaches on investigations involving intellectual property. Our goal is to make it easier for those with a stake in intellectual property matters to operate within the law, including legal communities and high-tech industries.

Updated Abuse of Dominance Guidelines

In March 2019, we released an updated Abuse of Dominance Enforcement Guidelines, which provide an overview of the Bureau's approach to enforcing the abuse of dominance provisions of the Competition Act. The revised guidelines include various updates, such as:

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Collaborate with partners

Collaborate partners
Collaborate partners

Partners

127 domestic meetings

7 formal domestic partnerships signed

27 international fora meetings and workshops

8 capacity building activities with international partners

Modern markets move quickly across borders, making it integral for us to work with our international counterparts to deliver on our mandate. Strong, mutually beneficial partnerships allow us to advance shared competition goals and build awareness on key issues while also taking action against unlawful practices. This year, we continued to participate actively in international workshops through international fora, strengthening our global partnerships.

We co-organized a Competition Economics Workshop with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Competition Network. The workshop brought together Chief and Senior Economists from around the world to discuss emerging issues and share best practices. When we work together with our partners, we can share and collaborate on ways to achieve the best results.

Competition in action

Strengthening domestic relationships

Fostering strong and collaborative relationships with the Bureau's partners is essential to ensuring that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace. This year, we worked toward developing and strengthening our partnerships with key domestic stakeholders. In total, we held 127 meetings with agencies and regulators, including Transport Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agency and Public Services and Procurement Canada, among others. We also signed seven formal domestic partnerships, with the goal of raising awareness on competition issues and driving important conversations forward.

In April 2018, for instance, we signed an MOU with the Spectrum and Telecommunications Sector of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to create a framework for cooperation so that both organizations can gain from each other's expertise. We also signed an Administrative Note on Communication with the Investment Review Division of ISED to increase transparency on the nature and scope of communications between the two groups.

Strengthening international relationships

In the past year, we actively participated in international workshops, strengthening our global partnerships. This included the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Sub-Regional Workshop on Big Data and Competition Law, the International Competition Network Cartel Workshop, and the International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group. We also took part in formal meetings with other competition agencies to work towards shared competition goals that cross borders, such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom (UK), and the European Union (EU). We held bilateral meetings with key stakeholders in Brazil, EU, New Zealand, UK, Mexico, US, Hong Kong, and Singapore. In October 2018, the Commissioner met with international counterparts in Mexico and the United States, discussing shared competition priorities, like big data and best practices in the digital economy.

Spotlight: Competition and gender

Over the past few years, the Government of Canada announced a broad priority for gender equality, and has taken many steps to examine issues through a gender lens. For example, Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is now mandatory for government policies and legislation in Canada. In the past year, the Bureau further researched competition and gender, to see if there are opportunities to promote gender equality with competition enforcement and policy.

In November 2018, the Bureau worked with the OECD to advance research on gender and competition. We worked with the OECD to host a series of panels and forums and participated in the 2018 OECD Global Forum on Competition. At the OECD's "March on Gender" event in recognition of International Women's Day, the Bureau facilitated a panel on Gender and Competition at the Conference on Gender Equality in Business. We will continue to create and support opportunities for further research in this area.

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Champion excellence

A healthy, diverse, and high-performing workforce is crucial to deliver effectively on our mandate, driving results for Canadians. In the past year, we have continued to maintain organizational excellence by implementing the Bureau's Talent Management strategy, and promoting a respectful, civil, diverse, healthy and inclusive work environment.

Competition in action

Maintain a high-performing workforce

Competition in action
Competition in action

56 training and information sessions offered

40 events related to workplace wellness, official languages, diversity and inclusiveness

To support skills development and career advancement, we offered 56 training and information sessions to our employees. We focused on improved training and greater access to learning opportunities, as well as promoting mobility to ensure a well-rounded workforce that can respond to current and emerging challenges.

Driving accountability through a performance measurement culture

Being accountable drives outcomes. It allows an organization to set concrete goals and measure progress. To remain accountable In 2018‑19, we continued to demonstrate progress on our priorities and commitments by publishing our Performance Measurement & Statistics Report. The report aligns with our Annual Plan and features an enhanced performance measurement dashboard, a narrative of key highlights, and performance data about our activities.

In May, we released an impact report highlighting the key results achieved for Canadians by delivering on our 2015‑2018 Strategic Vision. Highlights include an estimated $8.4 billion in consumer savings, more than $19 million in customer restitution, and more than $60 million in fines and penalties imposed by the courts for anti-competitive conduct and deceptive marketing practices.

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