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Québec National Assembly proposes ‘right to repair’ bill

In its own “right to repair” campaign, similar to the debate spreading across the US, a bill has been proposed in the Québec National Assembly to not only protect the automotive right to repair but also promote durability and prevent “programmed obsolescence” of vehicles and goods.

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) joined the Auto Care Association (ACA) and other aftermarket groups earlier this year to launch a “critical global right to repair movement” for access to in-vehicle telematics. The groups argue that OEMs are prohibiting their access to and limiting consumers’ choice to have their vehicles repaired at independent shops.

On Thursday, AIA Canada said, “This piece of legislation will enshrine the increasingly threatened right of Quebecers to have their vehicle serviced and repaired by the shop or garage of their choice, in addition to positioning Québec as a leader domestically and internationally in the fight against planned obsolescence and the right to repair motor vehicles.

“By recognizing that driving data produced by vehicles is the property of their driver, and by allowing the driver to consent to the data being passed on to a third party, such as a repair shop or an independent garage, the Bill fills a significant gap that has emerged in the industry in recent years with the arrival on our roads of a new generation of intelligent and electric vehicles.”

When introducing the bill on Thursday, Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette told the National Assembly that Bill 29 mostly proposes amendments to Québec’s Consumer Protection Act.

“The bill improves the legal guarantee of availability of spare parts and repair services for goods likely to require maintenance work, by specifying that the availability of the information necessary for the maintenance or repair of these goods must also be guaranteed,” he said. “It specifies that merchants or manufacturers bound by the availability guarantee must make available the parts, repair services and information necessary for the maintenance or repair of goods at a reasonable price. In addition, it provides that spare parts must be able to be installed using commonly available tools without causing irreversible damage to the asset.”

In addition, merchants would have to provide information on the legal guarantees of proper functionality before concluding a contract. Trading of goods that are programmed to quickly become obsolete would be prohibited. Automakers would be required to provide free access to vehicle data, whether to the owner, long-term lessee, or repairer.

“[T]he bill allows a court to declare, at the consumer’s request, an automobile a ‘seriously defective vehicle,’ in particular when the defects to which it is affected render it unfit for the use for which it is intended and it has been the subject of several repair attempts,” Jolin-Barrette said.

According to AIA Canada, car OEMs, and their affiliated dealers “currently take advantage of the lack of a legislative framework adapted to the new reality of smart and electric vehicles to drastically restrict access to data produced by telemetry and telematics systems when driving these vehicles. ”

And with nearly all new vehicles coming to market equipped with telematics systems, AIA Canada says access to the data is essential for proper diagnosis and repair.

In the coming weeks, AIA Canada plans to place its “extensive auto repair expertise” at the service of parliamentarians and suggest possible improvements to the legislation, so that its eventual adoption will allow Québec to join a select group of leaders in auto repair law, which includes Australia, South Africa, and a handful of US states.

“With Bill 29, Québec will be a winner on all fronts: in addition to effectively fighting against planned obsolescence and encouraging the repair of automotive property, it will ensure a plurality of services and freedom of choice for Québec consumers as well as the promotion of healthy competition and competitive prices in the auto repair market,” the association said. “It will also enable approximately 90,900 employees who work in this industry to lend their skills to the electrification of transport.”

The “right to repair” issue has been an ongoing battle in Massachusetts and Maine, including a lawsuit filed in 2020 by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) against the Massachusetts attorney general. A final ruling hasn’t been made in the case.

As of Thursday, AG Andrea Campbell will be enforcing the Data Access Law. The law requires OEMs to create and implement an onboard, standardized diagnostic system that would be accessible to everyone with or without OEM permission. It was approved by voters on referendum in 2020 and is an extension of the state’s right to repair legislation.

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