In the auto care industry, the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) once emerged as a groundbreaking initiative aiming to provide access to essential service information and diagnostic tools to independent service providers in order to service and repair vehicles.
While CASIS has provided the framework for independent auto care shops to receive information for servicing and repairing vehicles, it is not without its shortcomings. Gaps in CASIS only further reinforce the need for comprehensive regulations to fully address the evolving technological complexities in vehicles—which can be achieved with standalone right to repair legislation.
What is CASIS: A background
The Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) is a voluntary agreement designed to ensure accessibility to essential service information, diagnostic tools, and training in the auto care sector. In Canada, where consumer choice in vehicle repair is paramount, the mission of CASIS was to provide easy access to service and tool information, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tools, and training information available at commercially reasonable prices.
When CASIS was enacted in 2009, it worked well for traditional vehicles. However, now, as technology rapidly progresses, it falls short in certain, critical aspects.
- Lack of enforcement and selective participation: The entire basis of CASIS is that it operates on transparency and information-sharing among OEMs and relies solely on industry commitment. It does not rely on any mandate, there is no legal enforcement, and manufacturers are not obligated to participate. This leaves significant gaps in data accessibility and who can access what.
- Technological limitation: CASIS applies to on-board diagnostic systems (OBD), a technology that is now becoming outdated. CASIS does not apply to new, complex, vehicle telematics systems, which is a technology found in over 50 per cent of vehicles globally today—a number soon to increase to an estimated 95 per cent in a mere six years. The technological limitation of CASIS is especially problematic given the Government of Canada’s new zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, the New Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, which aims to have 100 per cent of ZEV sales by 2035. The CASIS framework will not apply to these new vehicles and will not reflect the needs of Canadian ZEV drivers.
- Direct model sales impact: CASIS requires automakers to share necessary repair information with the auto care industry—the information shared must be equivalent to what authorized dealers receive. However, the rise of direct sales models, like Tesla, challenges the obligation of automakers to share any information at all. If they are not sharing information with the dealership, this means they do not need to share information with independent auto care shops.
- Commercially reasonable prices: In the CASIS agreement, independent shops are prepared to pay commercially reasonable prices for repair and service information. However, in some instances, these prices may not be reasonable, but rather, inflated—to the point where auto care shops cannot pay the price or have to charge their customers more than what is expected.
The importance of right to repair in Canada
As vehicles become increasingly digitized, the need for comprehensive right to repair legislation becomes more pressing each day. Older vehicles would be able to allow for the extraction of information directly to a technician for the purposes of diagnosis, maintenance and repair —as long as they have access to the OBD port—whereas newer vehicles transmit this information wirelessly, directly back to the vehicle manufacturer.
The problem with that, though, is that vehicle manufacturers control this information, including who has access to it and under what terms. This lack of accessibility jeopardizes the auto care industry–with many finding it more difficult, more expensive or sometimes even impossible to obtain.
With many automakers holding control of service and repair information, this limits where consumers can take their vehicle for repair, ultimately eliminating competition in the market and increasing costs for consumers looking to service their vehicle. At a time where Canadians are grappling with higher costs of living, now is not the time to inflate prices and eradicate healthy competition.
This is where the right to repair comes in; it is advocating for consumers and the auto care industry to be given full access to information and technology needed to diagnose, service and repair a vehicle.
Bridging gaps with right to repair legislation
While CASIS was a step in the right direction over a decade ago, the emergence of new technology in vehicles in Canada means it is time for meaningful standalone right to repair legislation.
This legislation will address the shortcomings of CASIS, allow for the prosperity, longevity, and fair competition for the auto care industry, and ensure that consumers can continue to have access to reliable, essential and affordable vehicle service and repair.
Enacting legislation that preserves the right to repair will:
- Be beneficial for competition.
- Keep costs lower and preserve consumer choice.
- Allow for reasonable access to repairs, especially in small and remote communities.
- Support skilled-trades workers and protect jobs.
- Ensure better environmental outcomes.
Getting involved in the right to repair
The right to repair has progressed, and Bill C-244 plays a critical part in it. Bill C-244 is proposing amendments to the Copyright Act, granting Canadians the right to access data for diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of products—including the vehicles they own.
This is a small step in the right direction but there is still much work to be done. The road to comprehensive right to repair legislation for vehicles requires a collective effort and commitment from the entire industry.
If you would like to get involved with the right to repair movement, sign up to become a grassroots champion to actively participate in our advocacy efforts, or email your Member of Parliament (MP) to communicate the importance of right to repair legislation.