Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to see this bill go to committee to be thoroughly studied. First of all, this bill addresses a legitimate concern, namely, allowing motor vehicle owners to benefit from increased competition when they need to have their vehicle repaired.
However, before going ahead with such a measure, it is our responsibility to carefully weigh the repercussions, particularly on carmakers and dealerships. We therefore plan to ask representatives from car dealerships, manufacturers, independent repair facilities and consumers groups to testify before the committee during our study of the bill. The committee study will allow for a more thorough analysis of what is going on with vehicle repairs in Canada. Based on that analysis, we will be in a better position to make recommendations for the government to follow.
I think it is too early to express an opinion on the conclusions the committee will reach regarding this bill. However, we will ensure that the committee's study of this bill will favour the interests of consumers, while taking into account the concerns of the auto industry. Any amendments brought forward by the committee must be along those lines.
Auto mechanics has become quite a bit more sophisticated in recent years, and more and more servicing can be done electronically. Technicians must have access to the equipment and the codes they need to service and repair a car. Bill C-273 addresses this problem by providing that motor vehicle owners and repair facilities can have access to the information and diagnostic tools and capabilities necessary to diagnose, service and repair those motor vehicles.
On the one hand, this bill could promote healthy competition in the automotive repair market, which in turn could make for a viable repair industry. The consumer would benefit in the end.
On the other hand, we are well aware of the negative impact such a measure could have on dealers as a result of the dramatic drop in new car sales. In addition, we will have to make sure that this bill will not curb innovation by threatening the provisions that apply to automakers' intellectual property.
In the interest of shedding light on these issues and getting an idea of the big picture, we have decided to support the bill at second reading, so that the committee can study it. However, as I said earlier, it is far too soon to venture to say what the committee's findings will be. One thing is sure: the Bloc Québécois will play an active role in the committee's consultations.
According to a recent study by the DesRosiers consulting firm, the number of vehicles and the concentration of automotive dealers are increasing in urban centres. Rural regions account for 21% of vehicles and only 12% of dealers. The committee study will therefore provide an opportunity to determine the extent to which controlling automotive repair technologies will affect the accessibility and competitiveness of regional vehicle repair facilities.
A number of years ago, the United States put in place a law establishing a right to repair similar to the one in the bill we are debating today. The U.S. has a voluntary system that anyone can use to access servicing and repair information, for a fee.
In Canada, service and repair technicians cannot consult this information. We want to know how adopting such a measure might affect the market and consumers in this country. But given the situation in the automotive market, we also need to hear from dealers, who derive nearly 30% of their profits from vehicle servicing and repairs, according to the DesRosiers consulting firm.
We have to consider the fact that, in Quebec, the vehicle maintenance sector is a $3.5 billion business that contributes to the health of our economy and must be allowed to continue to prosper.
This is not a straightforward bill. On the one hand, we have mechanics, and on the other, manufacturers. We have to consider both parties. We all know what is going on with the auto sector these days, but consumers should not be the ones who have to pay the price at the end of the day. We have to find a solution together.
I think that sending this bill to committee will give us our best opportunity to hear from all of the witnesses—dealers, consumer advocates, manufacturers and mechanics. They will talk to us about their concerns and about what they think we should do with the bill. Listening to what they have to say is the best way to figure out how the government should change the bill, if necessary.
We should not come to any conclusions or favour one option over another before that. Making up our minds ahead of time would put us at a disadvantage. We should not make assumptions about what should be done with respect to mechanics or manufacturers. We should not make up our minds yet. We have to give the parties a chance to tell us what they think about this bill, what should be done with it, and we have to carefully consider all of the ins and outs.
I believe that the members of the House and the members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology will send this bill to committee so that they can report on it. The members of the committee will approach the issue with clarity and a sense of cooperation. They will not take anything for granted. They will really think about what people have to say before coming to any conclusions.