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Thursday, April 15, 2021
OTTAWA, 15 April 2021 – Consumers will benefit from “MVNO” wireless competition permitted today by Canada’s telecommunications regulator, said the “Coalition for Cheaper Wireless Service” (CCWS) a group of consumer, low-income and seniors groups whose members are the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC); ACORN Canada (ACORN); National Pensioners Federation (NPF); and CARP (formerly Canadian Association of Retired Persons). John Lawford, PIAC Executive Director and General Counsel, welcomed the decision, noting: “Consumers made the case that they have too few choices and too high prices for cellphone service in Canada. The CRTC has finally cleared a path for MVNOs and we trust they will find Canadians are very willing to try a new wireless option.”
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
OTTAWA, 13 April 2021 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomed the agreement reached between the federal government and Air Canada to provide it financial support, while obliging the airline to refund passengers due to cancelled pandemic flights. PIAC, on behalf of airline customers affected by the pandemic, has demanded refunds for all flights, including “non-refundable” tickets: No Refund = No Bailout. “We are pleased that the Federal government has stood by consumers to ensure those who had to cancel flights or whose flights were cancelled due to COVID-19 will get full refunds,” stated John Lawford, PIAC Executive Director and General Counsel. “However, we caution customers to immediately inform themselves about the process to get refunds as there are time limits and conditions,” he added.
Monday, March 29, 2021
OTTAWA, 29 March 2021 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today noted that the 2020-21 Mid-Year Report of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows a 6% year over year increase in consumer complaints during the months of August 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021. Customers raised more issue Internet-related issues during COVID-19 lockdown, concerning poor service quality and complete loss of service at a time when Canadians rely on internet services to complete essential activities. “As expected, increased home internet usage by Canadians under lockdown showed the weaknesses in Canada’s Internet industry and regulation,” noted John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel. “The CRTC’s ‘Internet Code’ had only four violations despite thousands of Internet complaints – proving it’s a dead letter,” he added.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
We discuss Bill C-11, a proposed law to change our federal private sector privacy act that protects consumers private information when they deal with businesses. PIAC's articling student, Yuka Sai, joins John Lawford to discuss the epic battle between business, with an assist from the federal government, and consumers over privacy. This battle centres on Bill C-11 and in particular, the part called the "Consumer Privacy Protection Act". This doublespeak title hides the facts that the bill will amend our present Canadian private sector privacy act, the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), to allow collection and use of your personal information for any "business purpose" without your consent. This is a reversal of the law that, what, they thought we would just not notice? Seriously?
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
OTTAWA – March 16, 2021 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre will participate in today’s Affordable Internet Day of Action, taking place at 1 p.m. E.D.T., virtually. Executive Director and General Counsel, John Lawford, is a panellist during the 4 p.m. discussion “ The Action We Need Right Now – How We Get Affordability: It’s time for new approaches and a break from the status quo.” Mr. Lawford will present PIAC’s argument for how to move from a solid legal ground to affordable internet to consumer action to achieve it. The one-day virtual conference includes a coalition of partners and organizations dedicated to demanding affordable internet for all Canadians. The event is open to the public and pre-registration is available here. Full agenda and further details at https://www.affordable-internet.ca/
Monday, March 15, 2021
OTTAWA, March 15, 2021 - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today expressed serious concern with the announcement by Rogers Communications Inc. (“Rogers”) that it will acquire the business of Shaw Communications Inc. (“Shaw”). The deal would cover cable TV, Internet and wireless assets. The result would mean fewer wireless competitors in many Canadian markets. “Canadians will not benefit from having fewer wireless competitors; they will pay more,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC.
Friday, February 26, 2021
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre announced today its participation in the upcoming National Day of Action for Affordable Internet on March 16. The one-day virtual conference includes a coalition of partners and organizations dedicated to demanding affordable internet for all Canadians. “All consumers, but especially low-income Canadians, struggle to afford internet and cellphone connections in an environment made infinitely more difficult by inadequate laws, regulatory capture and market dominance by big companies. The first step is protest, the next is action on all of these barriers,” noted John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Consumer, seniors and low-income groups today demanded the Canadian federal government create a $50 a month “Canadian Broadband Benefit” (CBB) during the remainder of the COVID-19 emergency. This payment would simply reduce internet bills by $50 a month for low-income Canadians, seniors on fixed incomes and for those Canadians qualifying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to reduced income.  The Canadian Broadband Benefit would largely parallel the $USD 50 benefit recently approved in Congress for needy Americans in the United States. The groups include ACORN Canada (ACORN), the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Together the groups represent over a million Canadians and advocate for many more who are similarly situated. “There is just as much need for broadband during a pandemic in Canada as there is in the United States, but our Parliament, the CRTC and the Internet companies have done little to help,” said John Lawford, Executive Director of PIAC. Internet companies in Canada offered a free data overage no disconnections from March to June 2020 and then restored usual prices.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
The CanCon is coming! The CanCon is coming! Or not.  Today we discuss Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, phew! Today's guest Monica Auer, Executive Director of Canada’s Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC) strives mightily to explain broadcasting regulation in Canada and how the federal government wants to change it.  What could go wrong? Turns out a lot, if you hurry to do it, have a very specific goal in mind but ignore the rest, and just rip the heart out of it. Surgery or a roadmap? You decide.
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