By Antonio DiDmenico
Canada’s Competition Bureau released its 2019-2020 Annual Plan, outlining its priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. Titled “Safeguarding the Future of Competition,” the plan is bold, explicit, aggressive and people-centric. The plan is bold by embracing the accelerating pace of digital disruption and with its stated goal of making the Bureau a world-leading competition agency in a rapidly advancing digital economy. The plan is explicit in calling out certain industries in its enforcement and compliance efforts, including telecommunications, health and biosciences and infrastructure.
The plan is aggressive in its promotion of pro-competitive public policy in Canada, emphasizing competition as a means for a competitive and innovative marketplace. The plan is people-centric in focusing on the development of Bureau employees and recognizing the importance of well-trained human capital in achieving the Bureau’s mandate.
The rapidly evolving digital economy, including the emergence of firms that control and exploit big data, are fundamentally changing the competitive landscape within which firms price, customize products and services and predict market trends. The emergence of data-driven platforms (which bring together multiple types of users in a digital platform, such as Uber, Google and Amazon) and network effects (where consumers benefit from a product when other consumers increase their use of that same product, such as a social media platform) are numerous, complex and unpredictable. Competition laws and their enforcers around the world are being challenged to keep up. The Bureau’s plan embraces this challenge. It explicitly desires a nimble, adaptive and confident Bureau in the face of rapid technological change and foreshadows an upcoming four-year plan to address it.
The plan prioritizes high-impact and consumer-focused enforcement cases in areas that the Bureau believes matter most to Canadians. In this regard, the Bureau calls out certain industries: