Gift card regulation continues to attract the attention of provincial legislators. Alberta has amended its gift card law and Nova Scotia and Québec may soon join the majority of provinces in Canada which regulate gift cards.

Alberta

Credit card company-branded gift cards issued by financial institutions have become increasingly popular due to their flexibility of use. Turning its attention to such gift cards, the province of Alberta amended its Gift Card Regulation on June 11, 2009 to clarify that the regulation does not apply to this type of prepaid purchase card provided a direct agreement exists between a cardholder and a financial institution and the agreement meets certain conditions.

Nova Scotia

On May 1, 2009, private member’s Bill 256, An Act to Amend the Consumer Protection Act, received first reading in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. The Bill prohibits the expiration of gift cards, gift certificates, prepaid cellular phone time and “other goods that are exchangeable or redeemable for goods and services” less than thirty-six months from their date of issuance.

Québec

Bill 60, An Act to amend the Consumer Protection Act and other legislative provisions, was introduced in the National Assembly of Québec on June 16, 2009. Among other things, the Bill proposes to regulate the sale of a “prepaid card” which is defined as including a gift card or gift certificate. Card expiry dates are generally prohibited unless the contract provides for the unlimited use of a service. The Bill also sets out certain disclosure requirements and generally prohibits charging consumers any fees related to the issuance or use of the card.