Canadian Government targets “junk fees” through Budget

Featured image credit: Anders Krøgh Jørgensen on Unsplash

Canada’s Government is to follow US politicians by clamping down on so-called “junk fees” that push up the price of concert tickets and other consumer purchases.

In the Budget 2023, the Federal Government said it is taking action to crack down on what are considered “unexpected, hidden, and additional” fees. It said it wants to “ensure businesses are transparent with prices, and to make life more affordable for Canadians”.

The new Budget does not mention any specific funding for addressing such fees, and so far, most of the work is centred around making legislative amendments. This includes changes to the Competition Act to protect Canadians from the fees that many consider excessive.

The announcement follows ongoing criticism centred around Ticketmaster and other ticket re-selling websites, particularly after the Taylor Swift Eras Tour sales fiasco. The US is also working towards tackling fees with Senate legislation having been introduced recently following encouragement from President Joe Biden.

The Government said in a statement: “Budget 2023 announces the government’s intention to work with regulatory agencies, provinces, and territories to reduce junk fees for Canadians. This could include higher telecom roaming charges, event and concert fees, excessive baggage fees, and unjustified shipping and freight fees.”

In his State of Union speech earlier this year, US President Biden called on Congress to address fees that target consumers. In March, US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced new legislation that would eliminate excessive fees and enforce transparency in the marketplace around hidden fees.

Senator Blumenthal said: “Concealed surprise fees – nickel and diming Americans to distraction – must be stopped. Airline travel, concert going, common purchases – seemingly almost everywhere – consumers are compelled to pay hidden excessive charges. Our bill will help end this price gouging – forcing full disclosure upfront and restricting abusive fees. It will mandate basic common sense fairness and transparency, which consumers rightly demand and deserve.”

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