Deal reached on Right to Repair

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OTTAWA – The hard work behind a legislated right to repair seems to all be for not now as Industry Minister Tony Clement said automakers have agreed to allow independent garages to access the key software needed to repair newer-model cars.

Clement said the voluntary agreement would result in more competition and benefit consumers by providing more choice when it comes to vehicle repairs. He said repairing modern vehicles is often more about computers than nuts and bolts and this agreement will give independents access to diagnostics and training.

Critics of a voluntary agreement have said a private deal can’t be enforced and would prefer to see legislation, like the current Bill-C273, which would require companies to provide full access to diagnostic and repair information for OBD II vehicles.

A voluntary agreement essentially makes the bill, which past second reading in the early summer by a landslide vote and is currently sitting with committee, a piece of useless legislation.

The issue has been going on for years as independent garages said they were unfairly being cut out of an entire section of the vehicle repair market. The Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA) pegged the number at about $4 billion annually.

Clement, who called for a compromise between the parties earlier this year, said the agreement will protect carmakers' secrets and give independent repair shops what they need to do their jobs.

“It will continue to protect the intellectual property rights of car companies while addressing implementation issues and technical challenges.''

- With files from The Canadian Press