In October of 2022, Alana Baker, AIA Canada’s senior director of government relations, joined Sylvain Seguin, president of Fix Network Canada, on Parliament Hill, where they appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology to discuss Bill C-244.
The private members bill, sponsored by Member of Parliament Wilson Miao, would amend the Copyright Act, allowing third party repairers – including those in the automotive aftermarket – to circumvent technological protection measures to access the data needed to service consumer goods.
A step towards right to repair
Alana Baker in her opening remarks pointed out, while auto care sector supports the intention of the bill, it does not go far enough.
“[It] is a step in the right direction when it comes to levelling the playing field for service and repair of consumer goods,” she said, “something that is of importance not just to the automotive sector but to many others.”
Strengthening the bill
A concern for the auto care sector with the current bill is that it provides loopholes that manufacturers could exploit.
“Any legislation that proposes to address this issue should contain clear verbiage that eliminates manufacturers from the ability to circumvent the sharing of data to prevent independent shops from obtaining diagnostic, repair or maintenance information for the purposes of legitimate repair,” Alana said.
Barriers to data access
Sylvain Seguin, speaking as a business leader working directly with auto care professionals who attend to the needs of Canadian consumers, confirmed the need for legislated access to data.
“Unfortunately, as of today,” he said, “we don’t have access to all the repair data.”
In the wide-ranging conversation with committee members. Alana and Sylvain answered questions around cyber security and privacy concerns, skills training and the labour market, and the growth of EVs.
But for AIA Canada and its members, the key point was guaranteeing Canadians can take their vehicles where they want for service.
“At the end of the day,” Alana insisted, “it comes down to consumer choice.”