Mr. W. Anderson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to remind the
member across, you’re not the only mechanic in the room. Forty-five years ago I was licensed as a mechanic. I spent five years in the trade, so I know a little bit about it. Long before diagnostic
equipment was available, it was much more of a manual process.
[interjections] We even had running water.
Anyway, I rise today to speak against Bill 203. That I’m
disappointed to have to rise to speak against this bill would be an
understatement. I would have liked to have risen today to speak in
support of a comprehensive jobs plan, a jobs plan that lowers small business taxes, reduces needless government red tape, increases apprenticeship usage on government projects, empowers local economic development, reduces WCB premiums, and stops the NDP carbon tax.
But, hey. Instead, I’m forced to stand opposed to a bill that would be more appropriately entitled the Needlessly Redundant Solution in Search of a Problem Act.
If my hon. colleague across the aisle had done a modicum of
research before introducing this ill-conceived and needless bill, he
would have found that the existing Fair Trading Act already
protects consumers from the issues raised in Bill 203.
Where the Fair Trading Act falls short, the automotive business regulation covers specific consumer protection concerns related to the automotive industry. Section 12 of the automotive business
regulation lays out an extensive code of conduct, rendering Bill 203
Bill 203 proposes to protect consumers from incurring charges
for “work or repairs for which an estimate was given, an amount that exceeds the estimate by more than 10 per cent.” The Fair Trading Act, in section 6(2)(e), already does this.
In fact, I’d argue, it does it better. Section 6(2)(e) protects consumers from incurring charges for goods or services that are more than 10 per cent, to a maximum of $100, higher than the estimate given unless the consumer has expressly consented to the higher price before the goods or services are supplied or the consumer and the supplier agree to an amended estimate.
Bill 203 promises to protect consumers by legislating that any parts removed in the course of work or repairs shall be returned to the customer unless advised by the consumer that they do not want the parts returned. The hon. member opposite should have taken the time to read the automotive business regulation before proposing Bill 203.
They would have found that under section 12(n) automotive repair shops must offer to return all parts removed from the vehicle in the course of work or repairs to the consumer unless advised by the consumer that they do not require the parts returned.
Now, to be fair, Bill 203 is broader in its scope and requires parts to be returned to the consumer to be kept separate from any other vehicles being repaired and that the parts be returned to the consumer in a clean container.
The independent automobile repair shops and the dealers’ association last year had over 8.8 million automotive repairs that were completed. Of those 8.8 million, only 296 resulted in complaints being filed. Of those 296 complaints, only 125 were deemed to be in need of further investigation.
Of those 125, only one resulted in further action being taken. That means that just over three one-thousandths of a per cent of repairs resulted in complaints being filed.
I find it very hard to imagine that of those 296 complaints, any of them were because the repair shops stored the parts too close to other vehicles or they returned the parts in a dirty container. It could be funny if it wasn’t so absurd.
Bill 203 mandates that repair shops cannot charge a fee for an estimate unless the customer or the consumer is advised that a fee will be charged. I think we can all agree that this is pretty reasonable. It’s a reasonable requirement, and it’s a wonder it took so long before it was included in our consumer protection legislation although – wait a minute. Hold on. There’s more. That requirement is already included in the Fair Trading Act in section 6(2)(f).
For further transcripts of this statement, please see the Alberta Hansard, page 476: http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_2/20160411_1330_01_han.pdf