Right to Repair and Bill C-244: what you need to know

In this economy, you need the freedom to choose where you spend your money. This includes where you can take your vehicle to be serviced or repaired.

Fortunately, Canadians are one step closer to having the ability to choose how they maintain their vehicles.

Passed in the House of Commons with unanimous consent on October 18, 2023, Bill C-244 proposes an amendment to the Copyright Act that gives Canadians the right to access their data for the purposes of diagnosis, maintenance or repair of certain types of products—including the vehicles they own.

While there is more work to be done, this is an important starting point to truly pave the way for standalone vehicle right to repair legislation in Canada.

When he first introduced his Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons in early 2022, Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Wilson Miao said that it was based on the concept that “when an individual makes a purchase of an item, the owner should have a right to repair it, and not be restricted by the manufacturer.”

This must also apply to your vehicle, one of the largest investments you and most Canadians make. 

Your vehicle is a lot like the phone in your pocket. New vehicles generate copious amounts of data on how the vehicle is performing as you drive. This data—your data—is then transmitted wirelessly directly to car manufacturers, allowing them control over who has full access (in many cases, that is only their authorized dealerships), how much is made available, and at what cost.

And that does not seem right.

We feel you should have the right to decide who can access your data that is necessary to fix your car—at a time, location and price that works for you.

“Canadians are already stretched with cost-of-living increases,” says Alana Baker, Vice President of Government Relations and Research at AIA Canada. “We know of many examples where an inability to service a vehicle at the auto repair shop of their choice has resulted in increased costs for consumers.” 

For example, if only a dealer can access the data from your vehicle, you might have to have it towed  further away if it breaks down. That would likely cost you more time and money. Or perhaps only the automaker’s dealerships have sole access to higher-cost parts. This too could leave your budget stretched.

Bill C-244 is a step in the right direction when it comes to levelling the playing field for service and repair of consumer goods. This is why we are continuing to work with the federal government as the Bill now moves to the Senate for further study, to urge its swift passing into law.

But there is still more work to be done. The federal government must proceed with a review on the Right to Repair (as promised in Budget 2023) and go further to introduce standalone legislation for vehicles, which will be needed to help reinforce a manufacturer’s requirement to allow access to diagnostic and repair information, which would address systemic issues around data ownership.

This important step would allow for the protection of consumer choice and ensure that Canadians can continue to have access to reliable, essential and affordable vehicle service and repair.

Visit righttorepair.ca to stay informed on Canadian right to repair updates and obtain resources on how you can help us advocate for this legislation with your MP.