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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 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.

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.

Le CDIP souhaite la bienvenue aux nouveaux membres du conseil d’administration

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
Le Centre pour la défense de l’intérêt public (CDIP) a annoncé aujourd’hui l’élection récente de quatre nouveaux administrateurs à son conseil, tous experts en télécommunications, en radiodiffusion ou en recours collectifs.

PIAC Welcomes New Board Members

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), today announced the recent election of four new directors to its Board, all experts in either telecommunications, broadcasting or class actions.

Consumers Left Unprotected by CRTC’s Internet Code

Thursday, August 1st, 2019
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) warns home Internet consumers in Canada that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) yesterday released its “Internet Code” but that the Code has many traps for unwary consumers and likely will not assist customers who have had Internet service price increases, overage charges or early cancellation fees. “The CRTC’s Internet Code is a trap for unwary consumers because they may think it protects them but on issues that matter, like the ability of Internet Service Providers to change prices mid-contract or to charge you for cancelling service, it blesses those abuses” stated John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. The Internet Code will come into effect on January 31, 2020. However, it is “largely a glorified notice to consumers to beware of Internet Service Providers,” Lawford added.

Steps Required to Reduce Switching Barriers and Enhance Consumer Choice in Canadian Communications Services Market

Thursday, May 16th, 2019
Canadians do not switch communications providers despite their dissatisfaction with pricing and service, says a new research report released by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). The report finds significant barriers to switching in the Canadian retail communications services market, with limited regulatory action taken so far to promote consumer participation in these markets. The retail communications services markets studied include: home Internet access services, home (wired) telephone, mobile phone (including telephone and data services), and paid television services (broadcast distribution, excluding “over-the-top” services). ”Consumers are reluctant to try out competitive communications services, despite feeling they can and should,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC. “There are clearly behavioural barriers as well as market barriers to exercising choice in these markets,” he added. The report notes that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has, over the past decade, tentatively addressed some switching costs barriers for some services (notably wireless telecommunications services) in regulatory codes of conduct. However, the report finds that regulatory and political action promoting choice and switching in all four communications services has been limited and uncoordinated.
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