Budget 2023 to detail crackdown on ‘junk fees’ for consumers: federal source

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Published March 23, 2023 at 9:51 am

A federal source says the coming budget will detail how the Liberals plan to go after hidden or unexpected consumer fees, following the United States announcing its own crackdown on these charges.

Often referred to as “junk fees,” they can include those tacked on to the initial price of a product or service that hide, and inflate, the total cost.

The government official, who was granted anonymity to discuss matters not yet public in next week’s budget, says the Liberals plan to work with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to cut down such fees.

These agencies would include the Competition Bureau, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

No legislative changes regarding the charges are expected in the budget, which Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has said will include “targeted inflation relief” as part of efforts to make life more affordable.

While the budget is expected to provide more detail on the kinds of fees the federal government wants to go after, common examples are phone or internet surcharges or additional fees for flights or event tickets.

In his State of the Union address last month, U.S. President Joe Biden called on Congress to push back against these surcharges that cause consumers to pay more than they’re initially told.

He also urged Congress to pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would target hidden fees in the entertainment, travel and hospitality industries.

“Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most folks in homes like the one I grew up in. They add up to hundreds of dollars a month,” Biden said in his address.

The president said his administration will work with state and local officials to identify ways to reduce junk fees in their jurisdictions.

Biden is scheduled to arrive in Ottawa on Thursday evening for a two-day visit — his first trip to Canada since becoming president in 2021.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press

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