Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


October 7, 2015

Debate on Bill 38, the Franchises Act.

S. Simpson: I’m pleased to just take a couple of minutes to speak to Bill 38. I know we’re tight for time, and there may be another couple of members who are interested in speaking.

Bill 38 is the Franchises Act. This is a piece of legislation that provides better balance and better protection for franchisees and franchisors, I believe, at the end of the day.

We know that here in this province, this is a huge economic sector: over 10,000 enterprises, 180,000 people make their living out of franchise operations, over $14 billion of economic activity. It’s a very important and significant sector.

But it’s a sector that we know has faced its challenges. It’s a sector that has faced those challenges, in many ways, because of the imbalance between franchisees and franchisors, in terms of their authority and their power and their ability to work. This piece of legislation goes quite a way to deal with those matters.

It ensures franchisees have all the relevant business information they need before making the decision to invest. They have that right. It guarantees legal protections should franchisees not be given the information they need and later find themselves in a vulnerable position.

It upholds the franchisor’s rights to freely contract to allow for the success of the franchise and provides certainty and consistency for franchisors. This is important. That imbalance needs to be addressed. It’s good for the vast majority of franchisors who are highly reputable and who, in fact, don’t want the bad apples playing fast and loose. And for franchisees, it gives them rights.

It also gives them the right of association so they can come together as entities to protect and advance their own interests and ensures that if there are disputes, there is litigation. That will take place in British Columbia, where the business is located, and that’s a positive thing.

As my colleague said, this is one of those situations…. We often, here on this side, present private members’ bills, do those things, and frequently we’ll say to the government: “Look, we just think this is an effective piece of legislation. We’re happy. Tear off the cover. Put your own cover on it, and let’s move forward.” Essentially, that’s largely what has been done here.

In February 2015, the member for Victoria–Beacon Hill introduced a private member’s bill, and what that bill said is:

“This bill grants rights and imposes duties and obligations on the parties to a franchise agreement, including a duty of fair dealing is imposed on the franchisor and the franchisee. A franchisee has the right to associate with other franchisees. The franchisor cannot interfere with that right.

“A franchisor must disclose certain information, including financial statements and all material facts about the franchise, to a franchisee before the franchisee enters into the franchise agreement. If the information is not disclosed, the franchisee may cancel the agreement within a certain time period.

“A franchisee may sue the franchisor and others for any loss suffered because of a misrepresentation in the disclosed information. Those who disclose that information have certain defences. A franchisee cannot waive his or her rights under Franchise Act.”

That’s what we said. That’s largely what this piece of legislation does. It’s a good piece of legislation. It will be good for business. It will be good for all of the parties to a franchise arrangement and agreement. I’m glad the government has brought this forward. I look forward to voting on this, moving it forward and improving the situation for the couple of hundred thousand people and their families who make their living in this province and who live out of franchise arrangements.

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