Latest News

Canadian Consumers Demand Internet, Wireless COVID-19 Relief

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020
OTTAWA, April 7, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), ACORN Canada (ACORN) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) together called today for the Federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canada’s Internet service providers (ISPs) and Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) to do more for Canadians.  Their list of demands includes calls for unlimited internet access and low-income Internet and wireless plans to help all Canadians stay connected while isolating at home. OTTAWA, April 7, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), ACORN Canada (ACORN) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) together called today for the Federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canada’s Internet service providers (ISPs) and Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) to do more for Canadians.  Their list of demands includes calls for unlimited internet access and low-income Internet and wireless plans to help all Canadians stay connected while isolating at home.

PIAC Office Closed Temporarily due to COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) physical office space will be closed, being a non-essential business, for the duration of the Ontario order requiring only essential workplaces be operating. PIAC staff will be working from home until further notice. We continue to make regulatory submissions, to hold government decisions up to public scrutiny and to advocate for consumer rights during this period. We are available to all media via video. PIAC will emphasize actions and information relevant to consumers as they attempt to fairly and reliably get access to essential services such as telecommunications (Internet, wireless and phone) and broadcasting; air travel protection and redress; privacy; retail banking including mortgages; and competition and general consumer law in a time of uncertainty and scarcity. We trust in the power and compassion of the public in these difficult times to support all of our interests.

PIAC Welcomes COVID-19 Responses by Internet Service Providers, Wireless – UPDATED

Monday, March 16th, 2020
See embedded summary of major Canadian ISPs' and WSPs' policies, UPDATED TO 6 April 2020 - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today (16 March 2020) welcomed recent announcements from major Canadian retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to suspend data overage fees for at least some time to assist Canadians with remaining connected during the present corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. "We commend the Canadian industry for leading on consumer access to the Internet during this crucial time," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. "Communications will be crucial in this fight against the virus and we encourage all telecommunications service providers to adopt similar policies, including payment flexibility and to consider adding other services, such as wireless, to their unlimited access policies," he added. PIAC has produced a summary of major Canadian ISPs policies, in their own words and with direct links to their responses.

CRTC to Consumers: “No More Paper Bills”

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and National Pensioners Federation (NPF) today lamented the unfathomable decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) not to require wireless carrier Koodo to provide customers with a paper bill. "Consumers have the legal right to a paper bill. The Telecommunications Act clearly requires customers be provided with a paper bill," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC.  "We cannot understand how the CRTC misinterpreted the law.  This decision will cost millions of wireless, home phone and Internet consumers dearly in missed payments, inconvenience and chaos."

PIAC applauds BTLR call to improve affordability, access of internet and wireless in Canada, signals caution on broadcasting

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomed the Report of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel (BTLR) that recommended  measures to increase access to affordable home internet and mobile wireless service in Canada. “Canadians can now expect that government will assure they can actually receive, and afford, mobile wireless and home Internet service,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “The Report recognizes that to live in this society, you have to be connected.” The Report also recommends changes to the Broadcasting Act to ensure continued creation of Canadian content.  While the goal of these changes is laudable, the potential impact on consumers is unknown. “PIAC will closely monitor pricing developments and advance the consumer interest during this transition to increased regulation of online content in Canada,” Lawford added.

Phase II of Air Passenger Protection Regulations Go Live on December 15, 2019!

Friday, December 13th, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) welcomes the launch of the second phase of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) that become effective from December 15, 2019. APPR is a regulation passed by the CTA, setting out clearer and consistent air passenger rights by stipulating airlines’ obligations to passengers and providing a clear redress mechanism. PIAC has over the years been a strong advocate for air passenger protections, and is pleased to see them materialize. “Airline passengers deserve to arrive reasonably on time. When the airline is at fault for a delay or cancellation, consumers can now get money and other help for their inconvenience,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. We strongly encourage you all to know your rights and be aware of the redress mechanisms available.

Thank you for Attending PIAC’s Annual Dinner 2019!

Monday, December 9th, 2019
We would like to once again extend our sincere gratitude to the Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, for speaking at our event. Mr Therrien spoke about the privacy law reform, impact of data-driven technologies on privacy and what it means to have a rights based law i.e. a law that confers enforceable rights to individuals, while also allowing for responsible innovation. If you missed the Dinner, you can read the Privacy Commissioner’s full remarks at the Annual Dinner by clicking through to the full post.

Increasing Consumer Worries and Woes – CCTS Annual Report

Thursday, November 28th, 2019
The Annual Report 2018-19 of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows an increase of 35% in consumer complaints for all communications services compared to last year. Wireless problems continue to lead the pack by service type, rising 53% over last years’ complaints and constituting more than 40% of all communications complaints.  Leading issues in wireless are billing and contract disputes, despite the protections of the Wireless Code; a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) “Report on Misleading or Aggressive Communications Retail Sales Practices”; and high retail pricing compared to other comparable countries, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) noted. “The Wireless industry is being reviewed by the CRTC right now. It is clear that billing, contracts and service standards are not meeting the reasonable expectations of Canadians,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “Canadians are increasingly frustrated by high costs of wireless service and the hassle of continued problems and so they are starting to complain.”

Stronger Regulatory Regime needed to address Consumer Issues regarding Retail Internet Access Services

Monday, November 25th, 2019
Canadians continue to face several issues with their home Internet access services and recent regulatory efforts to address them still fall short, a new Report released today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) outlines. Prominent consumer internet service issues include billing; home Internet speed, often claimed to be either slow, or subject to throttling and poor quality of service (often a mismatch between the advertised Internet speed and what is actually delivered); lack of contract clarity; and challenges in installing and cancelling Internet access services. The Report also reviewed how a potential “Internet Code” could be effective in addressing several of the above consumer issues regarding retail Internet access. While the Report was being drafted, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released its “Internet Code” decision. The Report analyzes the CRTC’s Internet Code and finds that it does not adequately address several consumer issues, including speed claims and in one case, installation fees, actually permits additional unwarranted charges to be added to bills by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). “The CRTC missed a golden opportunity to fix Internet service by rushing out the Internet Code with minimal safeguards for consumers,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC.

UPDATE: PIAC to Hold its Annual Dinner November 28th 2019

Friday, November 15th, 2019
OTTAWA - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today announced its Annual Dinner 2019 will be held at the magnificent National Arts Centre, Rossy Pavilion, on Thursday, 28 November 2019 from 6 p.m.  PIAC's Annual Dinner is an Ottawa highlight for collegiality among the many stakeholders in Canada's consumer protection, communications, privacy, air transportation, electronic commerce and competition advocates, regulators, lawyers, experts, policy analysts, journalists, academics and students. Traditionally, PIAC attracts a high-profile speaker to inform and entertain attendees with developments in their regulatory and policy area and to explain new developments in their field and what their agency is doing to advance consumer interests in Canada. This year is no exception, as PIAC welcomes the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Mr. Daniel Therrien, to address the Annual Dinner. Mr. Therrien will speak on data breach regulation, privacy legislation reform and the intersection of privacy and communications and we greatly anticipate his remarks, which we have no doubt will be of interest and value to our attendees.
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