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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 11, 2006
Consumers Question Need for Minister’s Direction to CRTC
Poll Shows Canadians Opposed to Price Deregulation
OTTAWA – Today’s announcement by the federal government Industry Minister Maxime Bernier opens the door to premature deregulation of local phone service say Canada’s major consumer groups.
Charles Tanguay of the Union des consommateurs called it “a potentially expensive Christmas present to Bell Canada, TELUS and the other big telephone companies that will be bought on credit. Next year, consumers may have to pay the bill.”
Bernier’s announcement allows Canada’s major telephone companies including Bell, Telus, Aliant, Sasktel and MTS, to escape regulation where some competition has appeared.
“We are afraid that this is not about competition, it’s about who will get towin the competition” said Michael Janigan, Executive Director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Janigan also noted that public surveys show that Canadians are massively opposed to deregulation of telephone rates. A September survey by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre showed that over 70% of Canadians were opposed to telephone companies being allowed to set their own rates and a majority thought that having just one cable competitor was not enough competition.
Bill Huzar, President of the Consumers Council of Canada, noted that the Minister’s move to usurp the CRTC is an unwelcome politicizing of the process. “This sends the message that the big and the powerful can successfully lobby the government when they can’t get what they want from the independent tribunal,” said Mr. Huzar. “However, if we don’t get the services and prices consumers deserve in the future, it will be the fault of this Minister and the Conservative Government.”
The Consumer Groups said they will oppose the government’s efforts to lessen consumer protection for telephone users.
The Canadian Consumer Initiative is a coalition made up of six major Canadian consumer organisations: the Alberta Council on Aging Services, Automobile Protection Association, Consumers Council of Canada, Option consommateurs, Public Interest Advocacy Centre and L’Union des consommateurs.
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The poll results are available at http://www.piac.ca/telecom/piac_pollara_survey_shows_phone_company_deregulation_plans_unpopular_with_canadians/
Please see also: PIAC Comments on CRTC Policy Direction [pdf file: 0.24mb]
For more information:
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas, Suite 1204
Tele No. 613-562-4002×26
Fax No. 613-562-0007
Directeur-adjoint – Responsable des communications
L’Union des consommateurs
6226, rue Saint-Hubert
Tél.: 514-521-6820 poste 257