Competition Bureau issues report on self-regulating professions

The Competition Bureau has issued a report urging Canada’s self-regulating professions to re-examine their rules to ensure they serve the public good and do not go too far in restricting competition.

“The right to self-regulate brings with it the responsibility for regulators to consider the greater good in all that they do, including competition,” the report says.

The report focuses on five professions — accountants, lawyers, optometrists, pharmacists and real estate agents — but urges all self-regulating professions to consider the principles outlined in the study.

The bureau identified several potentially restrictive practices and examined them in the context of each profession to determine whether there were opportunities for improving necessary regulations and eliminating unnecessary ones.

Included in the study are entrance requirements, mobility, scope of practice, advertising, pricing and compensation and business structure.

While the Competition Bureau acknowledges that regulation plays a legitimate role in protecting consumers and meeting public policy goals, it says some regulations appear unnecessary and that removing them could benefit consumers and the Canadian economy.

For example, the bureau urges professions to remove restrictions on comparative advertising to assist consumers to make more informed choices between service providers. It also suggests professions not set fees their members charge clients.

Recommendations specific to the legal profession include full implementation of the National Mobility Agreement by the territorial law societies and Quebec. The bureau also recommends that law societies review their articling requirements to ensure the duration of their admission programs is the minimum necessary to ensure newly called lawyers are competent to practise law. Another recommendation is that law societies consider removing the maximum percentage on contingency fees and leave the fee structure to market forces.

The Competition Bureau has asked self-regulating professions across Canada to consider its recommendations over the next two years.

Full text of the report is available at