Yes, restaurant owners, there are gift card laws in Canada

Yes, restaurant owners, there are gift card laws in Canada
By Chad Finkelstein

September 4, 2012
Canadian gift card laws for restaurant owners and operators

Many restaurants have discovered the marketing benefits of gift cards, however the laws pertaining to the sale of gift cards varies by province. Gift card terms and conditions need to be considered on a province-by-province basis, with particular attention paid to expiry dates and fees.

British Columbia law prohibits charging fees for gift cards. Certain fees, such as those that correspond to the replacement of a lost card, the customization of a card, or in respect of cards which may be applied to purchases at multiple unaffiliated sellers are allowed.

Alberta, on the other hand, allows suppliers of gift cards to charge, upon purchase, a one time activation fee for the card. The only other fees that are permitted are those that apply to replacing lost cards and/or customizing cards. Moreover, restaurants offering gift cards are required to accept them for partial payments and may not withhold any unused balance.

Saskatchewan exempts gift cards from its prohibitions on expiry dates and non-permitted fees where the consumer provides nothing of value for the prepaid purchase card.  Saskatchewan also prohibits charging inactivity or dormancy fees, along with any other fees pertaining to gift cards. However, fees for the replacement or customization of gift cards are permitted.

Gift cards sold in Manitoba are allowed to have expiry dates where they are sold for a specific good or service, or where the holder provides nothing of value when the card is issued.  Fees, on the other hand, may only be charged for replacing lost or stolen cards, or customizing cards which may be used at multiple, unaffiliated sellers has been inactive for 12 months.