Ontario Government Passes Legislation that Sets the Stage for Prohibiting Door-to-Door HVAC Sales and Making Consumer Credit Agreements and Leases More Consumer Friendly

On April 10, 2017, the government of Ontario passed Bill 59, Putting Consumers First Act (Consumer Protection Statute Law Amendment), 2017. This bill is of particular interest to consumer-facing businesses which are engaged in door-to-door sales or in offering credit to finance purchases of goods to consumers.

On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, Bill 59 will amend the Consumer Protection Act (Ontario) to allow for the development of regulations that prohibit unsolicited door-to-door sales for certain prescribed products and restrict credit agreements and lease agreements entered into with consumers in certain circumstances. Bill 59 does not actually make these changes, but sets the stage for regulations to be developed and changes to be made at the time and within the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Currently, door-to-door sales of water heaters are singled out and regulated more stringently than other door-to-door sales, but the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has indicated in a press release that the government is considering taking a step further and using the regulatory framework established by Bill 59 to prohibit door-to-door sales of household appliances such as water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters. The ministry has also indicated in its press release that the government will seek public input before it creates regulations implementing these prohibitions, but has not set a timeline for such consultations.

For water heaters only, the bill provides for changing the cooling off period from 20 days to 10 days as is the case for other direct agreements.

The bill also provides for a limit on the fee that can be imposed for the cashing of a government cheque and certain information that will need to be disclosed to the consumer.

With respect to credit agreements, Bill 59 provides, on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, powers to make regulations:

With respect to leases, Bill 59 provides, on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, powers to make regulations:

  1. to govern the factors that a lender is required to take into account with respect to a borrower before entering into a credit agreement with the borrower;
  2. limiting the credit that could be extended to borrowers;
  3. certain other disclosure requirements; and
  4. prescribing maximum amounts for charges not included in the cost of borrowing.
  5. to bring in new types of leases within the regulatory framework of the Consumer Protection Act;
  6. governing the tagging and marking of goods that are to be leased;
  7. governing the penalties to which lessees are subject for making late payments under a lease;
  8. governing the termination of leases;
  9. permitting the re-instatement of terminated leases by the lessee in certain circumstances and governing such re-instatement.