CCTS Annual Report 2021-22 Shows Lack of Public Awareness

OTTAWA, 30 November 2022 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today called upon the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) to take active steps to improve public awareness of the free complaint resolution service, in light of the 2021-22 Annual Report of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services released today. That report shows a 25% year over year decrease in consumer complaints in the last operating year but also contains disturbing statistics that demonstrate communications companies are failing to refer unsatisfied customers to the CCTS.

“The industry has an obligation to refer customers to the CCTS when their complaint is escalated and not resolved adequately, but the CCTS found in nearly 9 out of 10 of these cases they do not,” noted John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel. “The CCTS should count these failures to refer as an additional complaint – as is done in Australia,” he added.

PIAC also noted the disturbing spike in a new type of complaint: consumers who do not realize their cellphones may have hundreds or thousands of dollars remaining payable even when the nominal term of their contract is over or they wish to switch to a competitor mid-contract.

“The problem of non-transparent financing for ultra-high cost cellphones is the next huge consumer trap, and one that destroys the Wireless Code” added Lawford, noting that nearly all new wireless contracts in Canada with a smartphone are now sold under this billing structure.

Consumers continue to be disappointed with the effect of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) other codes of conduct, the “Internet Code” and “TV Service Provider Code” as neither limits the communications companies’ ability to change prices of service mid-contract, provided consumers are informed in advance of such increases. This is reflected in the Annual Report 2021-22’s sections on these Codes, which demonstrate only a few minor transparency breaches despite numerous attempted complaints under these Codes.

PIAC further calls upon the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services to change to an easier to remember name for consumers, such as the “Communications Ombudsman”.

For more information, please contact:

John Lawford
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
1-613-562-4002 ext. 125
jlawford@piac.ca

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PIAC Annual Dinner Next Friday: Speaker – Canada’s Privacy Commissioner – Musical Entertainment – Moonfruits – Limited Tickets Still Available!

OTTAWA, ON, November 18, 2022 – After a two-year hiatus, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre is thrilled to welcome guests back to its Annual Dinner. The Annual Dinner will be held November 25, 2022 at 6pm at the National Arts Centre in the Rossy Pavilion, overlooking downtown Ottawa.

PIAC's Annual Dinner 2022 - Speaker: Philippe Dufresne, Privacy Commissioner - image of National Arts Centre, the venue

This year, the Dinner features remarks by Canada’s new Privacy Commissioner, Philippe Dufresne. Commissioner Dufresne is a leading legal expert on human rights, administrative law and constitutional law. He previously served as Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons. Dinner attendees will have the privilege of hearing one of the Commissioner’s first public addresses on consumer protection and privacy.

Following the Commissioner’s remarks and a question or two, attendees will enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, prepared by the incomparable National Arts Centre chefs.

During the remainder of the event, there will be door prizes and musical entertainment by Canadian contemporary bilingual folk band Moonfruits (moonfruits.ca).

Finally, PIAC will be announcing new annual consumer advocacy awards.

A limited number of tickets are still available for this collegial event which brings together key industry stakeholders and showcases some incredible speakers with important consumer perspectives concerning the world of regulated services. Media are also welcome (unlike some recent events in Ottawa), but PIAC asks that any media identify themself and their media organization, ideally in advance.

To reserve one of the remaining tickets, kindly fill out the PDF form and return it to dbrady@piac.ca .

For further information, please contact PIAC at jlawford@piac.ca or call 613-562-4002 ext. 125.

PIAC Annual Dinner 25 Nov 2022; Speaker: Philippe Dufresne, Privacy Commissioner of Canada

PIAC Annual Dinner, Speaker: Philippe Dufresne, Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Friday, November 25, 2022 at 6 p.m. (eastern time)
National Arts Centre (Rossy Pavilion)

PIAC's Annual Dinner 2022 - Speaker: Philippe Dufresne, Privacy Commissioner - image of National Arts Centre, the venue

To purchase an individual ticket, please fill out the linked PDF form and return it, ideally by Monday, November 21, 2022, to Donna Brady: dbrady@piac.ca

To sponsor a corporate table, please email Donna Brady: dbrady@piac.ca for details. Our corporate sponsors and their logos will appear at this space shortly, as they join in supporting PIAC.

About the Event

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre is thrilled to announce the return of the Annual Dinner, to be held Friday, November 25, 2022 at 6pm at the National Arts Centre in the Rossy Pavilion. Registration is now open and details can be found above.

PIAC’s Annual Dinner has a longstanding tradition of being a highlight of the year for advocates, regulators, responsible corporations and students alike. We even often welcome a politician or two! After a two-year hiatus, we are excited to once again bring together a group of exceptional community leaders to discuss issues of consumer protection in Canada at an incredible venue – the Rossy Pavilion at the National Arts Centre.

The Venue – National Arts Centre, Rossy Pavilion, 1 Elgin Street, Ottawa

The National Arts Centre is located in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Our dinner will be hosted in the Rossy Pavilion which features views of Parliament and the historic War Memorial through stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, providing a beautiful backdrop for the evening’s events. In keeping with the formality of the venue, we ask that guests attire in business casual.

Our Speaker, Philippe Dufresne, Privacy Commissioner of Canada

In addition to a multitude of wonderful guests and a beautiful venue, this year, we will have the pleasure of hosting Canada’s new Privacy Commissioner. Commissioner Philippe Dufresne who was appointed on June 27, 2022 and is a leading legal expert on human rights, administrative law and constitutional law. He previously served as Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons. Dinner attendees will have the privilege of hearing one of the Commissioner’s first public addresses on consumer protection and privacy.

The Dinner

Following the Commissioner’s remarks and a question or two, attendees will enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, prepared by the incomparable NAC chefs. Dinner will be accompanied by a beverage of choice, and there will be a cash bar available throughout the evening.

We are presently confirming the musical entertainment, which we hope will be a new, upcoming Canadian band or performer, who will play during the cocktail and during dessert, post-speeches.

There will also be opportunities to enter to win various door prizes throughout the evening. While this event is an opportunity to showcase incredible speakers providing important consumer perspectives concerning the world of regulated services and speakers, this collegial event is also a unique opportunity to bring together industry stakeholders who may also be opponents from time to time in matters of regulatory or industry policy.

Consumer Advocacy Awards

During the event, PIAC will also be announcing new annual consumer advocacy awards. These awards are intended to celebrate the vital contributions by consumer advocates in particular sectors of consumer protection. These awards will be named to honour leading consumer advocates, all of whom have served as PIAC directors, and will be first revealed at the Dinner.

PIAC Needs Your Support, and Thanks You

PIAC has been active in the area of consumer advocacy for over 40 years. Our small team represents consumer interests in the provision of important regulated services on behalf of consumers, and in particular vulnerable consumers. Our staff will be participating and will bring attendees up to date on PIAC’s extensive consumer protection work. The Annual Dinner provides some modest fundraising to support the important work that we do. We very much appreciate your support of our mission to protect consumers and in particular, vulnerable consumers.

Registration is now open for individual tickets and corporate sponsored tables. Media are welcome (unlike some other recent events in Ottawa) but we ask that you identify yourself and your media organization to PIAC staff, ideally in advance.

We sincerely hope that you will join us for this evening of great conversations, great speakers and great prizes in the beautiful National Arts Centre – Rossy Pavilion, in downtown Ottawa.

PIAC Annual Dinner is Back! SAVE THE DATE: Friday, November 25, 2022 – UPDATE: Speaker, Philippe Dufresne, Privacy Commissioner of Canada

We are very pleased to announce that the PIAC Annual Dinner is back, in person, to be held: Friday, November 25th, 6:00 p.m.,

at the National Arts Centre – Rossy Pavilion, Ottawa. 

This collegial event brings together consumer advocates, government regulators, responsible corporations, students, academics and even a politician or two to talk about the importance and challenges of consumer protection in Canada in a post-pandemic, fragile economic and environmental, digital and fast-paced world.

UPDATE:  PIAC is very pleased to announce that our featured speaker at the event will be:

Philippe Dufresne

philippe-dufresne

Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Please mark your calendars and SAVE THE DATE: Friday, November 25th, 6:00 p.m. More details to come very shortly.

PIAC and NPF welcome Cabinet granting Petition to reverse CBC licences decision

OTTAWA – 23 September 2022 – The National Pensioners Federation (NPF) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomed Cabinet’s decision on 16 petitions to set aside and rehear the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision on licences for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Société Radio-Canada’s (CBC/SRC) TV and radio services.

NPF and PIAC had filed its own Petition to Cabinet to set aside the decision, arguing the CRTC had not considered the interests of citizens and consumers, in particular seniors, in the continuing role of CBC/SRC in maintaining the Canadian broadcasting system,  in particular, linear TV and radio services.

“PIAC is very pleased that Cabinet overturned the flawed CRTC decision on CBC/Radio Canada’s licences and we look forward to arguing at the re-hearing for adequate Canadian content to be produced and available to all Canadians no matter what platform they use to affordably access our national public broadcaster,” said John Lawford, counsel to PIAC and NPF. “We trust the CRTC’s new decision will now fit with the new broadcasting regime under Bill C-11,” he added.

The Cabinet decision noted in particular the importance of CBC/RC to Canadians for the delivery of Canadian content, including local and national news, original French-language programming, and programming produced by independent producers, in both official languages.

“Seniors need to be informed, and connected to other Canadians – CBC is crucial to their day,” added Trish McAuliffe, President of NPF. “We are pleased the Cabinet understood the depth of seniors commitment to our national public broadcaster.”

For more information:

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

John Lawford
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002 ext. 125
jlawford@piac.ca

National Pensioners Federation

Trish McAuliffe
President
National Pensioners Federation
905-706-5806
Trish.mcauliffe@npfmail.ca

PIAC remarks to Senate TRCM Committee on Bill C-11

PIAC appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications (TRCM) on 14 September 2022 to propose amendments to Bill C-11 that would strike a middle ground between traditional media interests and online platforms and creators by defining and narrowing the scope of “discoverability” by dividing it into “static” and “dynamic” concepts to allow some mandated Canadian content in ‘static’ areas of apps that users would have to interact with and no mandated CanCon in ‘dynamic’ areas that were AI-driven. The new definition would allow user generated content to be untouched by the Bill unless the creator wished to be regulated. PIAC remarks are found here. This time we got questions.

New PIAC Report: “Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada”

Transparency and accuracy standards for broadband service ads in Canada are falling behind other countries’ new reforms

New PIAC Report: Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada

17 August 2022, OTTAWA – A new consumer research report published today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) updates a 2012 PIAC research project comparing broadband advertising practices in Canada with those in other countries. The 2022 report, entitled “Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada,” found that in the last decade, broadband advertisements in Canada have largely stayed the same, mainly advertising plans in terms of “up to” maximum speeds. On the other hand, under new regulations, ISPs in Australia and the UK advertise a tested average or a range of speeds, accompanied by consumer-friendly explanations of technical limitations, and detailed “suitability” information that help consumers match services to needs.

“In the last 5 years, regulators in Australia and the UK have become leaders in reforming how ISPs advertise broadband services to consumers,” stated Yuka Sai, a staff lawyer at PIAC. “Ads that show tested, average peak period speeds or a range of speeds is a lot more useful to consumers than ads that only advertise maximum possible speeds. Consumers’ actual experience does not always meet these high expectations.”

PIAC’s report also analysed developments in speed testing methods, including the CRTC’s two speed testing studies conducted in 2016 and 2019. The report also included input from various stakeholders, including ISPs, other consumer interest groups, and regulatory authorities like the CRTC and the CCTS. Based on lessons learned in other countries and through stakeholder consultations, PIAC compiled a list of recommendations to improve broadband advertising practices in Canada, and to ensure customers have adequate contractual remedies where services fail to meet advertised expectations.

To conduct this research project and prepare the report, PIAC received funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of ISED or of the Government of Canada.

To see the full report, please consult the following link (English only): PIAC Report: “Selling Speed: Reforming Broadband Advertising Regulations in Canada”

A summary version of the report is available in English and French .

For more information, please contact:

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

Yuka Sai
Staff Lawyer
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002 ext. 122
ysai@piac.ca

NPF and PIAC file Petition to Cabinet to Set Aside CBC Licence Decision

OTTAWA – 5 August 2022 – The National Pensioners Federation (NPF) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed a Petition to Cabinet to set aside the decision of, or have the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission reconsider their recent approval of the licences for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Société Radio-Canada’s TV and radio services.

“The CRTC removed the requirement for CBC and Radio-Canada to actually exhibit Canadian content on their regular TV stations, in the hope that CBC/RC could go ‘whole hog’ on moving their TV productions online,” said John Lawford, counsel to PIAC and NPF. “We said no, you cannot allow CBC/RC to jump cut from regular TV to online without considering Canadians’, and in particular seniors’, reliance on CBC/RC’s traditional TV service, especially for local news,” he added.

The Petition underlines the importance of CBC/RC to Canadians for the delivery of Canadian content, including local and national news, programs of national interest, and kids programming, in both official languages and the CRTC’s rushed and ill-considered removal of requirements to ensure Canada’s national public service broadcaster continues to broadcast this programming to Canadians on TV services they know and use every day.

“You have to meet people where they are; that just shows respect for all Canadians, especially our seniors,” added Trish McAuliffe, President of NPF.

Petition here.

For more information:

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

John Lawford
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002 ext. 125
jlawford@piac.ca

National Pensioners Federation

Trish McAuliffe
President
National Pensioners Federation
905-706-5806
Trish.mcauliffe@npfmail.ca

PIAC Comments on ISED’s Proposed Telecommunications Policy Direction 2022

OTTAWA – 19 July 2022 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed comments with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) questioning the strength of the government’s commitment to telecommunications policy improvements for consumers in the form of the Department’s proposed “Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on a Renewed Approach to Telecommunications Policy” (the “2022 Policy Direction”).

In this submission, PIAC proposes improvements to the 2022 Policy Direction and also questions the utility of a such a policy direction when the present government appears unable to reverse CRTC decisions under the present (2019) and (2006) policy directions, even where these CRTC decisions are contrary to consumer interests, such as the recent wholesale Internet rates decision of 2021.

Our comments are found here: PIAC Comments on “Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on a Renewed Approach to Telecommunications Policy” (the “2022 Policy Direction”)

PIAC calls for Inquiry into Rogers outage; Notice of Consultation for all internet and wireless providers

8 July 2022 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre today filed a letter with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. It reads in part:

“The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) hereby requests that the Commission immediately open an Inquiry under s. 48 of the Telecommunications Act into the widely reported nationwide outage[1] of Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers) and affiliates’ wireless, Internet and home telephone networks and services, which began today at approximately 4:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Further, we request that the Commission, undertake to launch a Public Notice within 30 days, examining whether all telecommunications service providers (TSPs) in Canada should be required to meet a baseline of emergency planning, refund requirements, notice and transparency and other consumer protections, interconnection, wholesale and other requirements as conditions of service to operate in Canada, under s. 24 and s. 24.1 of the Act, and whatever policy directions then in force may apply.

[1] Globe and Mail, “Nationwide Rogers network outage interrupts internet, cellular, 911 and payment services” 8 July 2022, online: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-rogers-network-outage-internet-wireless-cellular/

We look forward to the CRTC’s prompt response.

For more information:

John Lawford (he/him)
Executive Director/General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
285 McLeod Street – Suite 200
Ottawa, ON  K2P 1A1
jlawford@piac.ca
613-562-4002 ext 125 [new!]
Fax 562-0007
Cell: 613-447-8125

Fighting for consumer rights


@CanadaPIAC

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