Ontario scraps ticket resale price cap, increases fines for violating ticket law

TORONTO — Ontario is scrapping part of a law that would have capped ticket resale prices at 50 per cent above the original face value.

The Progressive Conservative government paused implementation of that section of the Ticket Sales Act — brought in by the previous Liberal government — shortly after the election last year. Now, as announced in its new budget, it is cancelling the rule.

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"It was unenforceable," Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker said Monday. "It was like a lot of things with the Liberals. It was a nice soundbite, but there was no enforcement."

Ticket resale site StubHub had warned the previous government that artificially controlling a global market would lead to resales being "driven off of secure channels" into the black market.

The business community had also pushed back against the rule, with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce telling the then-attorney general in 2017 that Ontario ticket businesses would be harmed while those located outside the reach of the province's laws would be undeterred.

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the ticket resale price cap would have helped families.

"Maybe (Premier) Doug Ford and his rich friends can go and watch all kinds of sports games that they want, but most people struggle to even afford to go to one sports game or one form of entertainment a year," she said.

"Saying that it's not enforceable is just a cop out."

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said the rule was about protecting consumers.

"What we originally (wanted) with the bill was to say we want to be fair," he said. "It should be accessible to people. They shouldn't have to pay two or three times the face value."

The budget also removes a requirement for secondary ticket sellers to disclose their name, location and contact information, as long as they have made a guarantee in writing that a full refund will be provided if the event is cancelled, if the ticket is counterfeit, or if it doesn't actually allow the buyer to attend the event.

The Liberals introduced their legislation aimed at tackling "scalper bots" that scoop up huge blocks of tickets, after an outcry from fans shut out of the Tragically Hip's farewell tour. The Tories' changes leave the scalper bot prohibition intact and increase fines for non-compliance with the act from $10,000 to $25,000.

Other changes to the Ticket Sales Act in this budget include requiring primary ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets are going on sale, if the tickets are going to be made available in batches.

The Liberals' legislation originally required ticket sellers to disclose both an event's maximum capacity and the number of tickets going on sale, but they changed it before the bill passed to only require sellers to disclose the maximum event capacity and the distribution method of the tickets.

© The Outlook