(© Can Stock Photo / daisydaisy)

NDP wants to cap cellphone & internet bills

The federal New Democrats have a plan to make cellphone and internet bills cheaper.

The party introduced a motion in the House of Commons on Monday outlining actions to protect consumers.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh along with Windsor West MP Brian Masse unveiled the plan to make sure Canadians save money on their telecommunications bill.

“We know that Canadians rely on cellphones and access to the internet in their day to day lives. But these essential services are becoming more expensive and less reliable,” said Singh. “Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile wireless and broadband subscriptions. Telecom companies are making billions of dollars on the backs of Canadian families. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

The NDP said annual studies, including those commissioned by the federal government since 2008, have established that Canadians pay among the highest telecom rates in the world.

The party added profits of the five largest telecom companies in 2017 totalled $7.49 billion and their profit margins have reached 38.3 per cent. The NDP also said Canadian telecoms companies make more revenue per gigabyte of data than almost any other company in the world.

In 2018, the total revenue per gigabyte in Canada was roughly 70 times higher than in India and 23 times higher than in Finland and as a result, the party said Canada had lower data use than almost any other country in the world.

The New Democrats said Bell, Rogers and Telus received close to $50 million in subsidies and more than $700 million in contracts from the Liberal government.

The NDP added that Australia has larger geographical challenges than Canada but invested more per capita on telecommunication services between 2005 and 2015 and offers faster network connection speeds, while having cheaper plans than those available in Canada.

The New Democrats said companies must ensure consumer protections, provide competitive prices, and guarantee investments in infrastructure so that Canadians living in rural and remote areas have access to affordable high speed broadband and wireless services.

“In this market, Canadians are being forced to pay more than $20 more than the average monthly prices of other OECD countries,” said Masse. “Canadians deserve a government that will use every tool available, as we have done in the past, to use regulation to protect consumers and make life more affordable for people.”

The NDP plan includes a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill, a consumers’ bill of rights, puts an end to outrageous sales and services practices of the telecom companies to protect Canadians, and revisits the structure of spectrum auctions to make sure everyday Canadians benefit from the revenue.