New CRTC Policy Shift Favours Consumers: More Wireless Competition and Lower Prices

The federal government has ordered the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to shift its policy to benefit Canadian consumers.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, made the announcement yesterday, ordering the CRTC to “consider competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation in its telecommunications decisions and demonstrate to Canadians that it has done so.”

Bains said in a statement, “Our government is focused on improving the quality, coverage and, most importantly, the price of telecommunications services for Canadians—no matter where they live. We are giving clear direction to the CRTC that Canadian consumers must be at the forefront of all future decisions. We are ensuring that telecommunications policy will be made through a consumer-first lens to ensure Canadians have access to quality services at more affordable prices.”

The order says the CRTC must “encourage all forms of competition”, lower prices “when there is potential for telecommunications service providers to exercise market power,” and ensure affordable access to “high quality telecommunications services is available”, amongst other consumer protections.

Critics of the CRTC have stated the commission favours telecom companies instead of consumers. Current CRTC chairman, Ian Scott, is from the wireless industry—a former Telus executive and lobbyist. Meanwhile, industry reports continue to say Canadians pay the highest price per gigabyte of data versus the world.

The CRTC will soon have wireless players debut low-cost data plans, but these offerings have been labeled “pretty much a joke” by non-profit consumer group, OpenMedia.

Do you think the CRTC will be able to lower wireless prices for Canadians? The next federal election takes place on Monday, October 21, 2019.