On October 20, 2016, an Ontario member of provincial parliament introduced Bill 47, Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016 (Bill). The Bill’s purpose is primarily to prohibit the expiry of rewards points in Ontario due to the passage of time.
While private members’ public bills do not frequently become law, this Bill has gained traction and quickly passed both first and second reading in Ontario’s legislative assembly. On November 29, 2016, the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills amended the Bill, and media reports suggest that the amended version of the Bill could be passed as early as next week.
The Bill, in its revised form, would amend the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (Ontario) (Act) in various respects, including:
- A definition of “rewards points” will be added to the Act. Under the Bill, “rewards points” means points provided to a consumer under a consumer agreement that can be exchanged for money, goods or services.
- The definition of “consumer agreement” under the Act will be amended such that it includes an agreement between a supplier and a consumer in which the supplier agrees to provide rewards points to the consumer, on the supplier’s own behalf or on behalf of another supplier, when the consumer purchases goods or services or otherwise acts in a manner specified in the agreement.
- Consumer agreements under which rewards points are provided will be prohibited from allowing the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone, except if the consumer agreement is terminated in accordance with the Bill. Any term of a consumer agreement that contravenes this prohibition will be unenforceable.
- The prohibition on the expiry of rewards points will have retroactive effect, and all rewards points that expired on or after October 1, 2016 shall be credited back to the consumer, including in some circumstances where the consumer agreement has been terminated.
- The Act will be amended to allow for future regulations regarding reward points, including the transfer of rewards points, the termination of consumer agreements involving rewards points, and the general application of the prohibition on expiry of rewards points.
Given the increasing number of loyalty programs available to Ontario consumers, including at many retailers and financial institutions, the Bill could have a wide ranging effect.