Canada Access Internet Choice & Affordability

New CRTC policy direction is too little, too late

Promises of increased competition and affordability lack binding teeth

FEBRUARY 13, 2023 — Today Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Minister François-Philippe Champagne released the final version of his policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on competition, affordability, consumer rights and universal access. This direction incorporates feedback received since the proposed draft direction last year, and will replace the 2006 and 2019 policy directions, which were frequently contradictory in their guidance. 

Today the government issued long overdue guidance to the CRTC, but Champagne’s promises will have little impact without concrete action to back it up,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “On the big picture, we agree with Champagne: the status quo is not good enough, and our telecom market must deliver better, cheaper service to Canadians as soon as possible. Anyone paying attention to the telecom sector knows that we pay some of the highest prices in the world for connectivity, and our bills continue to rise. But we’re still waiting for answers to key unaddressed topics in this policy direction. First, will Minister Champagne be approving the Rogers-Shaw buyout? If Champagne greenlights that deal, he’ll be taking back the new competition gains and then some. Second, why is CRTC encouraged to stay the course on wireless competition, when the government’s own backgrounder notes that wireless services in Canada are even less competitive than wired Internet? It doesn’t make sense: Canadians desperately need service-based MVNO competition to drive down or world-leading wireless prices.””

“We don’t have unlimited time to get this right,” continued Hatfield. “Our telecom system has not stood still while waiting for the CRTC to take action; the competition we have is in full collapse. In just the last year, more than a dozen small ISPs have been bought out by Bell or Telus, including Distributel, Vmedia,, and EBOX. Without affordable rates, the independent providers Canadians need are dead in the water. If the CRTC takes much longer to introduce fair Internet wholesale rates, there won’t be any competitors left to compete. What are Minister Champagne and the CRTC going to do today to keep that from happening?”

OpenMedia and others have delivered over 83,000 community member messages calling on policymakers to block the Rogers-Shaw deal. A further 10,000 members of OpenMedia’s community signed a recent petition calling on Minister Champagne to take concrete action to curb the dominance of telecom giants like Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Quebecor. A new campaign is calling on Minister Champagne to mandate that telecom infrastructure owners extend the fair wholesale rates Rogers has offered Videotron to all independent internet providers in Canada.

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