On July 28, 2016, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) released its 2016-2017 Annual Plan, entitled “Strengthening Competition To Drive Innovation”. While this year’s Annual Plan ostensibly repackages both the Bureau’s 3-year Strategic Vision and its 2015-16 Annual Plan, it does contain a few notable developments.

Indeed, the Bureau has introduced 10 new “areas of focus” to help it achieve the 5 key objectives it had previously outlined in its 3-year Strategic Vision. Perhaps somewhat expectedly, 4 of the Bureau’s 10 focus areas address enforcing anticompetitive conduct and specifically contemplate deceptive marketing (civil and criminal), as well as bid-rigging.

The Bureau’s objectives and areas of focus are outlined below.

OBJECTIVE AREA OF FOCUS
Increase Compliance 1. Support innovation in the digital economy by deterring anti‑competitive conduct that impedes new entrants, products and services and by stopping deceptive marketing practices in e‑commerce.

2. Raise awareness throughout the procurement community and among potential bidders about bid‑rigging related to infrastructure spending, given increasing public‑sector investment.

3. Increase small and medium‑sized businesses’ awareness of the importance of complying with the statutes administered by the Bureau.

Empower Canadians 4. Provide timely and accurate warnings to reduce the risk of Canadian consumers being victims of civil and criminal deceptive marketing.
Promote Competition 5. Foster innovation through a pro‑competitive approach to regulation.

6. Strengthen our analytical frameworks and address competitive implications through workshops with stakeholders.

Collaborate with Partners 7. Facilitate more transparent interaction with other domestic regulators and enhance our ability to effectively administer labelling statutes by concluding additional memoranda of understanding.

8. Enhance and strengthen our network of international partners to address anticompetitive activity and deceptive marketing practices that cross borders and promote convergence in competition law policy.

Champion Excellence 9. Deliver a talent management strategy focused on planning, attracting, growing, engaging and retaining talents at all levels.

10. Undertake concrete actions to build and sustain a healthy, respectful and supportive work environment and improve internal communications focused on continuous engagement.

Given the title of this year’s Annual Plan, it is also no surprise that the Bureau has referenced several innovation-centric initiatives, including a market study of technology-led innovation and emerging services in the Canadian financial services sector.

Moreover, this year’s Annual Plan provides some concrete, forward-looking undertakings in which the Bureau plans to engage. One such undertaking is the creation of a Consumer Deceptive Marketing Advisory System (“CDMAS”). It is expected that the CDMAS will alert consumers to common deceptive marketing conduct via “new platforms,” likely for smartphones and other handheld devices.

The Annual Plan is a welcomed communication tool, which aligns with the Bureau’s commitment to openness and transparency.