Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) consists of mayors of cities in Ontario with populations of 100,000 residents or more, with the group representing close to 70% of the province’s population.
On Friday, as part of its announcement on proof of vaccination and childcare plan, the group also made a plea for affordable broadband internet.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been brought to the forefront the need for all Ontarians to have reliable access to internet. OBCM supports continued efforts to provide proper broadband infrastructure, but also calls for affordable rates as too many Canadians are struggling with high fees for internet services,” wrote the group in a press release.
“COVID-19 has underlined the fact that broadband internet for all our citizens is a basic necessity and essential utility, and access does not simply refer to broadband infrastructure availability, but also to its affordability”, stated Chatham-Kent mayor, Darrin Canniff, in a statement.
The OBCM says it has “urged the Federal government to overturn a CRTC decision that is leading to higher internet costs for Canadians.”
The CRTC had issued lower wholesale rates in August 2019—the prices at which smaller internet companies pay to resell internet to customers—but major internet carriers opposed the decision appealed in court. The initial CRTC decision was made to increase internet pricing competition.
In February 2021, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of telecoms, resulting in the final decision coming down to the CRTC. In May of this year, the CRTC ruled it would revert wholesale internet rates back to 2016, a decision seen as favouring major telcos.
“Since 2016, the CRTC’s objective has been to complete the transition to a disaggregated wholesale model for access to the large companies’ high-speed broadband networks. This model will foster greater competition and further investments, so that the industry can better serve the needs of Canadians. Today’s decision will allow us to focus on that goal, while providing certainty in the marketplace for Internet service providers,” said Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC, in May.
The OCBM joins with smaller internet service providers in asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to overturn the CRTC wholesale rates ruling, as they argue it will increase internet prices for consumers.