Rogers Exec Calls Out Non-Profit for ‘Virulent Hypocrisy’ Over Federal Wage Subsidies

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Vancouver-based non-profit and consumer advocate, OpenMedia, recently launched a new petition asking for Canada’s Big 3 wireless carriers to pay back COVID-19 federal wage subsidies.

It recently came to light Rogers, Telus and Bell took in over $240 million from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, aimed at helping companies retain employees during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Bell: $122.9 million
  • Rogers: $82.3 million
  • Telus: $38.6 million

However, with big telecom also increasing dividend payouts to shareholders and also laying off employees during COVID-19, the situation’s optics do not look good at all.

“When you took federal COVID aid, you were only out for yourselves — not for Canada. So we have three words for you: Pay. It. Back.”, said OpenMedia on February 12.

Ted Woodhead, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs at Rogers Communications, replied the next day, “.@OpenMedia Why don’t you #PayItBack! Search Open Media Engagement Network here,” linking back to the federal government’s website showing the non-profit also took in money from CEWS.

“You take virulent hypocrisy to a new low,” added Woodhead, a former SVP at Telus that started his current position with Rogers in January 2020.

OpenMedia responded to Woodhead, saying, “We absolutely accepted CEWS! It was a crucial support last year to keep many workers and employers afloat.”

“We are critiquing businesses whose profits went UP last year Ted, and still took emergency CEWS, then paid out EXTRA dividends to shareholders. And we’re far from alone,” added OpenMedia.

Telus Chief Social Innovation & Communications Officer, Jill Schnarr, also chimed in, to say, “The telcos kept thousands working, when other people were being laid off to collect CERB. They collectively paid $8B in taxes, fees to the fed, prov, muni govmnts in 2020. They enabled millions to work from home & paid dividends to pensioners and retirees. What is the problem?”.

TekSavvy’s Peter Nowak was also quick to chime in as well:

As expected, many responded to the tweets from Rogers and Telus to say it wasn’t a good look online, during a tough economic time due to COVID-19.

What do you think about this tit-for-tat between OpenMedia and wireless carriers?

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