Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland revived the issue of credit card fees in her first budget tabled in April 2021.
On p. 159, we learn that the federal government intends to conduct private consultations by the fall to find solutions aimed at further reducing these fees, which are described as “among the highest in the world”.
But although this prospect is encouraging for retailers, evidence suggests that we are replaying here in an old movie.
Indeed, it is very likely that this consultation will lead to nothing more than a third voluntary agreement with the major card issuers, the last of which is due to end in 2025.
Why? First, because Justin Trudeau’s promise to abolish the tax portion of these fees – a promise made during the last election campaign – has not been referred to, which is a very bad sign.
We know also that politically speaking, any concession obtained from the big card companies will be profitable and safe, while new regulations could have all kinds of unknown consequences on the payment system.
But Freeland is not Bill Morneau, her predecessor. Will it make a difference? It remains to be seen… with little hope.