Consumer protection remains an important part of the federal, provincial and territorial governments' agenda. In a spirit of cooperation and to improve efficiency on the consumer front, the Consumer Measures Committee (CMC) was created under Chapter Eight of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).
The Consumer Measures Committee has a representative from the federal government as well as every province and territory. The CMC provides a federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) forum for national cooperation to improve the marketplace for Canadian consumers, through harmonization of laws, regulations and practices and through actions to raise public awareness.
The AIT identifies three consumer areas requiring the committee's attention:
The Agreement also encourages the harmonization of consumer standards in other areas. The CMC has been given the responsibility to identify any substantive measures to be included in future negotiations and to act as a forum for discussions among governments on consumer related issues.
To date, significant progress has been made. Since 1998, CMC has completed harmonization agreements on:
CMC also developed a Cooperative Enforcement Agreement, which facilitates information exchanges among consumer protection agencies when they are carrying out investigations.
CMC advises and provides support for FPT Deputy Ministers and Ministers Responsible for Consumer Affairs.
The Consumer Awareness Committee is responsible for investigating, developing and promoting information products for consumers. For example, the Canadian Consumer Handbook, which covers several consumer-related topics and is updated annually, as well as several consumer information series aimed at different target audiences including youth, seniors and Canadians with low literacy skills. The Committee also provides communications support for the work of the other working groups of the CMC, such as the Identity Theft Checklist developed with the Identity Theft Working Group.
The CMC is presently co-chaired by the Director General of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Industry Canada and by the Senior Policy Advisor from Ontario's Ministry of Consumer Services.