Share your views on how to support innovation and choice in Canada's health care sector

Discussion paper for public consultation
This consultation takes place between July 30, 2020 and October 11, 2020 (11:59 pm Pacific time).

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Purpose of the consultation

The Competition Bureau (Bureau) is conducting a market study of Canada's health care sector. The market study will examine how to support digital health care in Canada through pro‑competitive policies. Pro‑competitive policies can bring about greater innovation, choice and access to digital health care across the country.

Market studies allow the Bureau to assess a sector from a competition perspective to determine whether changes to policies can foster the entry and expansion of new and more efficient ways of delivering products and services. Through market studies, the Bureau makes evidence‑based recommendations on ways to enhance competition in a particular sector.Footnote 1

This consultation will help the Bureau better understand existing or potential impediments to innovation and choice in digital health care. By identifying barriers and possible opportunities for change, you can help shape the Bureau's study of a sector that is of vital importance to Canadians and the Canadian economy.

Digital transformation of the health care sector

The digital revolution has increased virtual product and service delivery in many sectors of the economy, and the health care sector is no exception. The importance of innovation and choice, and the ability to access digital health care solutions, has never been more pronounced than it is right now.

The COVID‑19 pandemic has highlighted just how instrumental digital solutions can be in meeting Canadians' health care needs. For example, the Government of Canada has committed to investing $240.5 million to support the expansion of virtual care and mental health tools across the country.

Steps have already been taken to deploy digital health care solutions to Canadians during the current pandemic. The modernization of policies governing the sector can further support the development and deployment of digital solutions. This will help ensure that Canadians have access to innovative, and increasingly necessary, virtual health care products and services.

Promoting innovation and choice in Canada's health care sector

The Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, seeks to ensure Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace. Headed by the Commissioner of Competition, the Bureau is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Competition Act and three other statutes.Footnote 2

As Canada's competition expert, the Bureau advocates for the benefits of a competitive marketplace. Through its competition advocacy function, the Bureau acts as a trusted advisor to governments, with a goal of promoting the benefits of competition for both consumers and businesses.Footnote 3

This market study follows significant advocacy work by the Bureau in the health care sector. Through the initiatives listed below, the Bureau has encouraged the adoption of pro‑competitive policies to support greater innovation, choice and access to health care.

Market studies

Other advocacy initiatives

Share your views

You can assist the Bureau by identifying factors that may be restricting access to digital care or inhibiting innovation and choice in the delivery of virtual products and services, and by proposing solutions to improve virtual health care for Canadians. This will better position the Bureau to make timely, evidence‑based recommendations to decision‑makers, so that they will be well‑equipped to take these matters into consideration alongside other important policy objectives when implementing and modernizing sector‑specific rules.

The Bureau is seeking input on the following discussion questions:

  1. Are there ways that policies can better support innovation, choice and access to digital health care solutions? For example, do specific rules unnecessarily impact the ability to offer virtual products and services to Canadians? Please explain.
  2. What other barriers are impeding Canadians' access to virtual care and restricting innovation and choice in the health care sector? Can these barriers be reduced—and, if so, how—in order to facilitate the entry and expansion of digital solutions?
  3. What measures have other jurisdictions taken to improve access to virtual care? How have barriers to innovation and choice been eliminated, while balancing legal and regulatory requirements in the delivery of digital health care solutions? Can similar measures be adopted in Canada? Why or why not?
  4. What impact has the COVID‑19 pandemic had on innovation and choice in Canada's health care sector, and on Canadians' ability to access health care virtually? Have any barriers hindered the adoption of digital solutions in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic? Please explain.

Submit your views by completing the online feedback form, or by sending comments to

All submissions will be made public and posted on the Bureau's website in the language provided unless it is specifically requested that they be kept confidential. While the Bureau appreciates all submissions, please note that this is an information gathering exercise. To submit a complaint, for general enquiries, or for other information, please use the Bureau's online forms.

Next steps

The Bureau will reflect on the input received in response to this discussion paper to determine areas of focus for its market study, and to identify other possible opportunities for competition advocacy in the health care sector. A preliminary findings report will be published to summarize the information received through this consultation, followed by a market study notice to outline the scope of the Bureau's study.