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Bill that lifts GST from rental developments, amends competition law to become law

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OTTAWA — Legislation that lifts GST charges off rental developments and amends the country’s competition law has passed in the Senate and is poised to become law.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced the legislation this fall in response to growing concerns about housing and affordability in the country.

The federal government is lifting GST charges off rental developments to incentivize developers to build more purpose-built rentals, a segment of the housing supply that experts say is in very short supply.

The legislation also aims to boost competition in the country by giving new powers to the Competition Bureau.

It will be empowered to compel information from companies to conduct market studies and block collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice.

It would also eliminate the “efficiencies defence” in the Competition Act, which allowed for anti-competitive mergers to be approved in cases where the efficiencies generated offset the competitive harm.

The NDP successfully secured other amendments to the Competition Act in the legislation, including increasing the maximum penalty for anti-competitive behaviour to $25 million for the first infraction, and to $35 million for subsequent infractions.

The Competition Bureau will also be able to go after businesses that abuse their market dominance to engage in anti-competitive behaviour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2023.

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