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Canadians to decide if online harms regulator is bureaucracy or enforcement: PBO

OTTAWA — Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux suggests it’s up to Canadians to decide whether they believe the government’s proposal to create a new regulator against online harms amounts to bureaucracy, or a necessary enforcement tool.

Last week Giroux issued a cost estimate for the government’s new online harms legislation would cost around $201 million over five years based on an estimate from Canadian Heritage that it will take up to 300 staff to enforce it.

Justice Minister Arif Virani says the new law is needed to compel social media companies to take steps to better protect Canadians from being exposed to dangerous content online, especially minors.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has vowed to scrap the legislation pointing to Giroux’s cost estimate as proof the law is just creating more bureaucracy.

Giroux says some could call it bureaucracy but others could see it as “giving teeth” to the legislation to make sure it is followed.

He says the department’s figures suggest it would likely be at least two years for the enforcement bodies to be up and running but added the costs could be higher if the proposal to allow the Canadian Human Rights Commission to hear complaints is implemented.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2024.

The Canadian Press