Ontario Chamber of Commerce calls on province to modernize cannabis sector

| David Brown

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has called on the province to modernize the Ontario cannabis market as part of its 2024 provincial budget submission. 

The Chamber’s annual budget submission makes numerous recommendations as part of Ontario’s budget consultation process on how to strengthen Ontario’s business community, including three key points that relate specifically to the legal cannabis sector. 

The Chamber calls for changing provincial regulations to allow licensed producers and retailers to “have a direct relationship” to pursue lost tax revenue from underground markets by creating tougher penalties for noncompliance, coupled with intensified audits, and calling on the Ontario Cannabis Retail Store to provide quarterly updates on its progress around the 16 recommendations in the Auditor General’s value-for-money audit report released in December 2021.

Those 16 recommendations include a call for a more structured, consistent, and transparent approach to its product listing calls and product listing selections, improving transparency about the product delisting process, improving customer service, and numerous calls for greater oversight of its distribution partner Domain Logistics. 

A cyberattack in 2022 on the parent company of Ontario Cannabis Store’s (OCS’) third-party operated distribution centre, Domain Logistics, briefly crippled the cannabis distribution system in Ontario. 

The Auditor General’s 2023 report revisited those 16 recommendations, noting that 79% had been fulfilled and 13% were in the process of being fulfilled. Only 3% showed little progress, while 5% were no longer relevant.  

The two recommendations that showed little to no progress were a call to explore tools such as Ontario’s Digital Identity Program to strengthen controls over online ordering of cannabis by individuals under the age of 19. The report also says the OCRC has not required Domain Logistics to incorporate more extended data retention requirements into all subcontractor agreements. 

However, the OCRC informed the Auditor General that its Privacy and Freedom of Information team is planning to perform a privacy impact assessment to determine appropriate data retention requirements and plans to implement these recommendations by March 2024.

Featured image of True North Cannabis in Grand Bend, Ontario

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