Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement has announced a voluntary Right to Repair agreement between the automakers and the aftermarket, raising questions among supporters of the Right to Repair Bill.
“We are pleased to enter into this voluntary national agreement with Canada’s automotive OEMs on behalf of Canada’s service and repair industry,” said Dale Finch, National Automotive Trades Association’s executive vice president. “This agreement ensures that all auto manufacturers will provide access to service and repair information which will increase competition in Canada’s service and repair industry for the benefit of Canadian consumers.”
According to NATA, the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) will allow automotive repair facilities in Canada to access auto manufacturers’ service and repair information. Additionally, it will provide access to tooling and training information for local repair facilities across the country. The agreement states that automakers will have the information made available no later than May 2010.
However, notably lacking from the announcement in Ottawa, was any mention of the Right to Repair Bill currently working its way through the legislative process.
After a concentrated lobbying effort by Automotive Industries Association of Canada and its members, Bill C-273, the Right to Repair Bill, was passed by an overwhelming vote in Parliament in May, thus sending the Bill to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology for review this October.
However, in letter released by Marc Brazeau, president of AIA Canada to Minister Clement, states that AIA Canada and its partnering associations were excluded from the conversations between automakers and the aftermarket in participating discussions on the issue of access to information.
“AIA requested that a copy of the draft document be forwarded to us by September 14, 2009 so that we might be able to provide input prior to finalization and support the agreement,” stated Brazeau, “This request was rebuffed. From the reluctance of these organizations to engage in any sort of constructive dialogue, we can only conclude that the concerns of the aftermarket continue to be ignored.”
While the voluntary agreement is being praised by vehicle associations and the government, not having broad aftermarket representation at the table has raised several issues.
“We are at a loss as to explain why the car manufacturers would exclude AIA in these discussions in favour of a loosely affiliated organization that represents less than 5% of the marketplace in very few provinces,” continues Brazeau. “Moreover, it is our understanding that this organization also represents new car dealerships within its membership, clearly a conflict of interest.”