False and misleading representations in advertising are prohibited under both the federal Competition Act, as well as provincial consumer protection legislation.
- The Competition Act governs most business conduct in Canada and is aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices in the marketplace.
- Among other things, the Competition Act prohibits false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices in promoting the supply or use of a product or any business interest.
- For a list of advertising “Dos and Don’ts” and additional information on this provision, see the Competition Bureau’s pamphlet: False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices.
Consumer Protection Legislation
Provincial consumer protection statutes set out the rights of consumers in the context of consumer transactions and also prohibit certain unfair practices.
For example, Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, makes it an unfair practice for a person to make a false, misleading or deceptive representation, such as:
- A representation that the goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance characteristics, accessories, uses, ingredients, benefits or qualities they do not have.
- A representation that the goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style or model, if they are not.
- A representation using exaggeration, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact or failing to state a material fact if such use or failure deceives or tends to deceive.
- A representation that misrepresents or exaggerates the benefits that are likely to flow to a consumer if the consumer helps a person obtain new or potential customers
Each of the provincial consumer protection statutes vary by province. You can review the statutes relevant to your business here: Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (British Columbia); Fair Trading Act (Alberta); The Consumer Protection Act (Saskatchewan); Consumer Protection Act (Manitoba); Consumer Protection Act (Ontario); Consumer Protection Act (Québec); Consumer Product Warranty and Liability Act (New Brunswick); Consumer Protection Act (Nova Scotia); Consumer Protection Act (PEI); Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act (Newfoundland and Labrador); Consumer Protection Act (Northwest Territories); Consumer Protection Act (Nunavut); and Consumers Protection Act (Yukon).