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May 4, 2007
VIA E-Pass, E-mail and Mail
Mr. Konrad von Finckenstein
Canadian Radio-television and
Dear Mr. von Finckenstein:
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre has long represented consumer interests before the Commission and in particular has advocated for an increased consumer voice in telecommunications. The Cabinet Order referred to above is an historic opportunity to strengthen that consumer voice for ordinary Canadian telecommunications customers.
PIAC is interested in working with the Commission, Industry Canada, consumers, consumer groups and the telecommunications industry in creating the Telecommunications Consumer Agency (TCA) as soon as possible.
PIAC has noted some confusion in the industry, in government and the consumer movement over the scope of the Order and the process for achieving its creation. We also underline that the terms of the Order appear to require the logging of consumer complaints towards informing the government and the eventual TCA of the volume and type of consumer telecommunications complaints; however, it is not clear that there is any infrastructure in place in the CRTC, industry or consumer groups to compile this required information.
We note also that the CRTC’s recent 3 year plan places the proceeding towards defining the TCA in the third year of the plan. In light of the rapid pace of deregulation in local telecommunications, and the high volume of complaints that consumer groups and government consumer ministries and agencies, as well as the CRTC and the carriers presently take on all telecommunications services, such a delay seems to us to be risky and counterproductive.
It is our view that a preliminary stakeholder consultation with telecommunications providers, the Ministerial telecommunications staff, your staff, groups representing telecommunications consumers and possibly representatives from other telecommunications ombudsman schemes (notably Australia, the U.K. and in the U.S.) would be the most efficient and effective way to “roadmap” an effective telecommunications ombudsman in Canada. We would expect the result of the consultation to lead to a more focused hearing on the scope of the TCA and advance its creation considerably.
We therefore look forward to your earliest convenient reply to this suggestion.
CcMs. Michele Austin, Chief of Staff, Office of the Minister of Industry
Mr. Michael Binder, Assistant Deputy Minister, SITT, Industry Canada
Mr. John Macri, Acting Director, Consumer Affairs, CRTC
Cc by e-mail only
All telecommunications service providers
All consumer groups participating in CRTC hearings