Major parties rallying around telecom pricing issue as election nears


OTTAWA — Consumer advocates say a rare consensus is forming among the major political parties ahead of the federal election that Canadians need to be protected from gouging by the country’s big telecom companies.

Even before the official campaigning begins for the Oct. 21 vote, all the major parties are pledging to find ways of curbing increases to telecom rates.

The New Democrats laid out their plan for reducing wireless and internet-service rates in June, vowing to impose a price cap on monthly bills that they estimated will save households about $10 a month for each service.

Recent media reports have indicated the Trudeau Liberals are preparing a campaign pledge to reduce cellphone and internet costs either through a cap on monthly bills or by requiring major service providers to offer mobile virtual-network operators wholesale access to their infrastructure.

The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer have criticized the Liberals for being ineffective on the subject, but have not laid out their own plan to deal with a rising household cost.

Industry players warn that attempts at rate-fixing could result in reduced investment in critical infrastructure, particularly as Canada heads toward development of 5G networks across the country.

John Lawford with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre says if rates for internet, cellphone and other telecom services are a political football, that’s because the service providers have done nothing to take themselves off the radar of the political parties.

Consumer watchdog organization OpenMedia says big telecom has been gouging people in Canada for far too long and change is long overdue.


The Canadian Press