Posted on Dec 13, 2017

Protecting consumers, honest businesses

By Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

Whatever you choose to spend your hard-earned money on, you want to know you’re getting the best value for your dollar in a fair and honest transaction.

Just in time for holiday shopping, our government is giving consumers and honest businesses that confidence with Bill 31: A Better Deal for Consumers and Business Act.

We’ve heard the horror stories about ticket scams, unfair deals on car maintenance, and predatory lenders. Now, with technology, we are seeing more and more consumers getting ripped off.

Not only do these types of practices have a huge impact on all of us as consumers, but they can tend to cast other similar businesses in a bad light undeservedly. We have so many small and medium-sized businesses in our community that do good, honest work, and I’m proud to support them.

Bill 31 will give everyone more confidence that they will get a fair deal when they go shopping, whether that’s for car repairs, concert tickets, veterinary services or anything else. This legislation will, if passed, bring in several significant changes to better protect consumers.

Bill 31 will also establish a Consumer Bill of Rights to help Albertans know their rights when buying or selling. This would make Alberta the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce a guideline to recognize and protect consumer rights.

Thinking of putting concert tickets under the tree for that special someone? New rules for online ticket sales would give Albertans a fair chance to get tickets to see their favourite artists perform, rather than seeing bots buy up all the tickets and having to pay scalpers a ludicrous markup. Big-name acts like country legend Garth Brooks can afford to put their foot down with anti-scalper policies, but other artists don’t always have that luxury.

Businesses offering payday loans and other high-cost credit products could be subject to new disclosure and advertising requirements, use standard contract formats and terms, and also be subject to new licensing requirements.

Is adding a furry companion to your family part of your holiday plans? Veterinarians are trusted professionals, and Albertans look to them to provide quality care for their pets. Under Bill 31, pet owners would have greater confidence they were getting the best veterinary services, as those business would be allowed to advertise their fees. They would also have to disclose those fees to pet owners before treating the animals, except in specific cases such as an emergency.

Winter conditions mean we all want our family members to be safe on the roads. The automotive industry and its regulatory body in Alberta would be subject to more stringent rules to ensure integrity and to protect the interests of consumers. Businesses doing car sales and repairs would have tighter regulations around disclosure of a vehicle’s history, and be required to provide written estimates to consumers, upon request, before starting any repairs.

If passed, this legislation is going to better protect everyone from dishonest and unfair business practices. I am proud to support the work our government is doing to make life better for all Albertans.

First published Dec. 13, 2017, in the High Prairie South Peace News