Trudeau abandons promise to lower Internet and cell phone bills
Mandate letters miss the mark entirely on affordable connectivity and Internet access.
DECEMBER 17, 2021 — Yesterday the Federal government released mandate letters instructing Cabinet ministers on the government’s top priorities for their portfolio. In a sign that the government has abandoned its promises to reduce the cost of connectivity in Canada, both the letters given to Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Minister Champagne and Rural Economic Development Minister Hutchings failed to mention lowering cell phone and Internet prices in Canada — some of the highest in the world.
“Many Canadians are struggling with rising costs to stay connected, yet it seems for Prime Minister Trudeau our world-leading Internet prices are nowhere near his government’s radar,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Throughout the pandemic, our Prime Minister has congratulated Canadians on using the Internet to keep functioning. Where is the recognition that Internet access needs to be affordable to all if it’s going to play that critical role? Trudeau has abandoned his 2019 promise to bring Canadians relief from our oppressively high telecom bills, while allowing CRTC decision after decision that makes the situation even worse. Is this really the best our government can do?”
In 2019, the government made an electoral promise to cut down cell phone bills in Canada by 25% within two years. So far, the promise has been ‘fulfilled’ only on budget plans with limited data — inadequate to the needs of most Canadians, if available at all. There was no update or replacement for this promise in the Liberal party’s 2021 election platform.
In the Prime Minister’s letter to Rural Economic Development, Trudeau called on Minister Hutchings to continue to work on broadband rollout and the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), but failed to provide any detail on how the work will be carried out or when the most disconnected can expect relief. UBF, now closed for applications, first opened in late 2020 after months of delays and urging by advocates, and has yet to make significant headway on connecting the millions of people in Canada who lack high-quality, affordable Internet at home.
A small silver lining to today’s mandate letters is the recognition of the need for a Right to Repair in the mandate letter to Innovation Minister Champagne. Amending legislation to empower consumers to repair the devices they own, AKA the Right to Repair, is a good step towards reducing costs for people in Canada and keeping fixable products out of landfills.
An active OpenMedia campaign is currently calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet to bring down Canada’s Internet and cell phone prices to match up with those enjoyed by the rest of the world, starting with reversing the CRTC’s 2021 Internet wholesale rates decision. Since the start of 2020, over 90,000 OpenMedia community members have asked the government to take action to address Canada’s dismal global ranking on telecom affordability.
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.
Executive Director, OpenMedia
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