Canada Access Internet Choice & Affordability

Federal government hit with over 62,000 signatures of support to block Rogers-Shaw buyout

Multiple petitions call on the Government of Canada to stop Rogers’ proposed acquisition of Shaw, citing significant threat to wireless affordability.

May 18, 2021 — Today, civil society organizations OpenMedia, ACORN Canada, Leadnow, and North99 delivered over 62,000 signatures to the Government of Canada and Competition Bureau calling on policymakers to stop Rogers Communications from purchasing Shaw Communications. The petitions argue that this buyout will make connectivity in Canada even more expensive by cutting down the already-limited number of options available to people in the telecom market. 

Shortly after 2:30PM ET, Ottawa ACORN members will hand-deliver pages of signatures to the office of the Competition Bureau in Gatineau. The direct handoff is enthusiastically supported by the remaining three organizations participating in today's mass signature delivery.

In March, Rogers announced plans to acquire Canada’s 4th-largest provider, Shaw, and its wireless subsidiary Freedom Mobile in a deal estimated to be worth nearly $26 billion. Experts say the deal will drive up wireless rates — despite Canada already paying some of the highest prices in the world. A 2020 report from Finland-based telecom research firm Rewheel found that Telus, Bell, and Rogers ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most expensive amongst 168 wireless carriers operating in 48 countries around the world. 

Today’s petition delivery to decision-makers is a high water mark for recent public engagement and activism around telecom issues, demonstrating the breadth of concern about the deal’s repercussions across Canada.

The petitions point to the negative impact previous telecom buyouts have had on wireless affordability to illustrate the probable harmful effects of further consolidation, In 2017, Bell purchased regional wireless carrier MTS in Manitoba, and after the buyout, consumers had fewer carriers to choose from, and Bell ultimately raised prices.

Calls to block the Rogers-Shaw deal have grown more urgent in the wake of a recent CRTC decision that will limit the ability of new third-party wireless carriers to enter the market. In April, the CRTC rejected mandating access for most forms of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) — non-facilities based wireless service providers — to Canada. Fully embracing MVNOs would introduce more competitors to the wireless market, and competition is considered to be an effective way to drive down rates.
 

Quotes

“The sheer number of signatures delivered today makes one thing clear: Canadians are overwhelmingly against the Rogers-Shaw sale. If the government allows these telecom giants to cut down wireless competition and choice even further, it’ll be a clear indication that their promise to lower Canada’s cell phone bills was nothing but smoke and mirrors. The only acceptable path forward is for Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Champagne to step in and block this terrible deal.” - OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matthew Hatfield

"We know that when large companies start forming monopolies it negatively impacts customers because the prices are not competitive. We know that the less competitive prices are going to especially affect low income people. Rogers already has a monopoly on the market alongside Bell, so making Rogers even bigger is only going to help Rogers' already huge profit margins; it's not going to help consumers. With more of the market captured there's less incentive for Rogers to serve low income households. ACORN Canada is demanding $10/month internet for all low income people across the country but making Big Telcom even bigger, isn't going to get us there." - Ottawa ACORN board member Norma-Jean Quibell

“We’ve seen what happens when telecom giants merge — higher prices for working-class Canadians. It’s clear that this merger will only help shareholders, not average Canadian families who are already struggling with some of the highest wireless rates in the world. If the government is committed to making life more affordable for Canadians, they will intervene and block this deal.” - Geoff Sharpe, Director at North99

"This government was elected on a promise to reduce Canadians’ wireless bills by 25%. Yet, thousands of people will face the opposite reality if this merger is allowed to proceed. Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Champagne must decide whether they will live up to their promise to ease the burden on struggling Canadians and step in to stop this deal." - Leadnow Campaigns Director Maggie Chao
 

Media Contacts

Matthew Hatfield
Campaigns Director, OpenMedia
1 (888) 441-2640 ext. 1
[email protected] 

Ashley Reyns
Ottawa ACORN Head Organizer
1 (613) 447-4270
[email protected] 

Geoff Sharpe
Director, North99
1 (647) 338-5797
[email protected] 

Maggie Chao
Campaigns Director, Leadnow
1 (855) 532-3609, ext. 40
[email protected] 

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.

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