As Canada grapples with the impacts of COVID-19, Canadian businesses face a number of unprecedented challenges.
The Competition Bureau recognizes that the exceptional circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may call for the rapid establishment of business collaborations of limited duration and scope to ensure the supply of products and services that are critical to Canadians. For example, firms may need to form collaborative buying groups or share supply chain resources such as distribution facilities to ensure access to the necessities of life for all Canadians. In such circumstances, where firms are acting in good faith, and motivated by a desire to contribute to the crisis response rather than achieve competitive advantage, the Bureau does not wish to see specific elements of competition law enforcement potentially chill what may be required to help Canadians.
The Bureau therefore wishes to signal that in circumstances where there is a clear imperative for companies to be collaborating in the short-term to respond to the crisis, where those collaborations are undertaken and executed in good faith and do not go further than what is needed, it will generally refrain from exercising scrutiny.
At the same time, the Bureau wishes to underline that it has zero tolerance for any attempts to abuse this flexibility or the guidance offered herein as cover for unnecessary conduct that would violate the Competition Act.