Key Issues

The CCSA and its regional affiliates advocate on behalf of the convenience store industry with governments across the country on various issues. These issues have a significant impact on the operations of a convenience store and on the ability of a convenience store owner to succeed.

At the National level, the CCSA works on the following issues that impact the c-store industry. Each regional affiliate handles matters at the provincial and municipal level.

These issues include the following:

Contraband Tobacco

Illegal tobacco, often referred to as contraband tobacco, are products that do not comply with Canada’s tobacco regulations – specifically those regarding importation, stamping, manufacturing, distribution, labeling and taxation.

Contraband tobacco has cost convenience store owners as much as $2.5 billion in lost sales annually and the federal and provincial governments more than $2 billion a year in lost tax revenue and has put many c-retailers out of business. [Read More...]

Obesity

Health groups, activists and politicians across the country are calling on governments to address health issues such as obesity by increasing food and beverage regulations and the taxation of those products.

A recent Senate Report on obesity noted a number of recommendations that will have a direct impact on retailers, distributors and manufacturers in the convenience industry.

The report urges the federal government to take aggressive measures to return Canadians to healthy weights. The report’s 21 recommendations provide the tools to do so.


In particular, the report recommends that the government should:

  • Consider a tax on sugar- and artificially-sweetened drinks (including fruit juices);
  • Implement effective tax levers to encourage healthy lifestyles; and
  • Ban the advertising of food and beverages to children.

Other key recommendations would make it easier for Canadians to make informed decisions about their diet. The Senate committee urges the government to:

  • Standardize and expand nutritional information on food packaging to make it easier to understand;
  • Increase awareness of the potential harms of processed foods and the benefits of fresh, whole foods;
  • Overhaul Canada’s dated food guide.

Many of the ways to fight obesity are beyond the federal government’s direct control. In this report, the Senate committee urges Health Canada to work with the provinces and territories on coordinated policy changes across the country. It recommends that Health Canada:

  • Engage provinces and territories to improve doctors’ training on diet and exercise and encourage doctors to give patients prescriptions for exercise;
  • Help vulnerable populations to adopt healthier lifestyles; and
  • Teach and practice active living in schools and promote it in the community.

The CCSA believes there will be a great deal of outreach, education and discussions necessary for the convenience industry to get involved here to ensure we are treated fairly and provided with potential opportunities for those in the channel that are focusing on healthy options for their stores.

Smart Fueling

The CCSA in conjunction with the Canadian Fuels Association and the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association is launching a campaign to provide Canadians with constructive ways to improve their fuel efficiency – to save money and support a sustainable environment. Efforts will include engaging and educating Canadians on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and reduction efforts.

Last year, a group calling itself Our Horizon, called upon municipalities across Canada to create laws requiring gas stations to put graphic warning labels on their gasoline nozzles. Retailers would be asked to cover the cost of nozzle handles and signage. The CCSA believes these warning labels will be ineffective because they will “guilt” Canadians into purchasing less fuel with little in the way of guidance on how to achieve success.

As an alternative, the Association is advocating a “fuel efficiency” approach that would see retailers provide consumers with tips and tools on how they can achieve greater fuel efficiency and save money (resulting in lower fossil fuel consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emissions).

Law and Order

Drive-Off Safety

Though fuel theft has always plagued gas station operators, with the rising price of gas, gas-and-dash scenarios – where people fuel up at the pump then drive off without paying – are growing at an alarming rate. [Read More...]

Citizens Arrest Provision in the Criminal Code

It happened in Toronto: a c-store retailer, David Chen, was arrested and charged with forceful confinement because he caught a shoplifter in his Lucky Moose store in downtown Toronto and detained him. The incident was unusual in that the shoplifter was caught a few hours after he had stolen some goods, when he carelessly revisited the store only to be recognized and detained. [Read More...]

Over-Regulation

The Canadian government is under increasing pressure to impose regulations on the sales of many products and services sold in convenience stores – significantly impacting all industry partners: retailers, vendors and distributors alike.

Today, convenience stores are not only expected to be the government’s tax collectors, but they are also expected to play a role as de facto national guardians of morality as the primary vendors of so-called “sin” products, such as alcohol, lottery, tobacco, gasoline, and now fast food. [Read More...]

Credit Card Fees

Excessive credit card swipe fees, cost the industry over $900 million annually. Current fees presently range from 1.5% - 4%, among the highest in the world, and prevent storeowners from hiring staff, investing in their sites and reducing consumer prices.

The CCSA has always advocated for a cap on credit card swipe fees to bring fairness and transparency to the payment industry in Canada. The Association points to the actions of other countries that have capped fees in the 0.3%-0.5% range to protect their small businesses as a good template for Canada to follow.

Currently, the Association is also advocating as part of the Small Business Matters Coalition SBM, representing 98,000 Canadian small business retailers. The Coalition has identified key messaging to go to governments in an effort to reduce swipe fees. Key points include the following:

  • The Coalition welcomed the five-year fee freeze and the move towards reducing fees to an overall average of 1.5%.
  • However, this 10% reduction was viewed by SBM members as inadequate and not meaningful or significant. Even Nesbitt Burns said that the rate cut percentage will have "no positive financial impact" and they had expected to see a rate cut of at least 15%.
  • One year ago, Canada’s retailers paid among the highest merchant credit card fees (swipe fees) in the world. One year later, after the reduced fees were introduced, we are still paying amongst the highest rates in the world.
  • In other countries like Australia and the EU, rates of 0.5% and 0.3% respectively were introduced as means to assist their small businesses survive and prosper. Why are rates in Canada not comparable to these other jurisdictions? Are our businesses not as important? We are asking government to provide us with an explanation of why the relief in Canada is so much less than in other countries.
  • All merchants have seen some reductions, some may even have hit 1.5%, but most have not, certainly most small businesses are not hitting that rate.
  • The promise by the previous government for "greater reductions" for small business has not materialized.
  • MasterCard has negotiated a special 'no fee' deal with Costco. Is that deal being incorporated into the overall reductions reported by MasterCard to the Finance Department? If so, then small business is subsidizing a preferential deal for a big business. The reductions were to bring swipe fee rates to an “average” of 1.5%. If Costco is at 0%, others – especially small businesses who have the least amount of leverage in such matters – must be paying more.
  • The percentages may seem small to non-merchants but they amount to billions of dollars annually that are paid by the merchant community. The Competition Bureau has pointed out that this has a deeper impact for small and medium size businesses. Without meaningful reductions, small businesses are curtailed in their ability to reinvest in their businesses and the communities they serve, create jobs and to remain competitive.
  • With real, meaningful and adequate change, small business retailers will be empowered to employ more people, invest in their businesses and be more competitive in their pricing – all points that would have a tremendous impact on Canada’s economy and budget.
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