That, given telecommunication services in Canada cost more than most other countries in the world, leaving far too many Canadians with unaffordable, inadequate or no service at all, the House call on the government to implement measures that will make those services more affordable, including:
(a) a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill;
(b) abolishing data caps for broadband Internet and mandating that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services;
(c) putting an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a Telecom Consumers’ Bill of Rights;
(d) revisiting the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit most from the revenue, rather than repeating the failures of previous Liberal and Conservative governments, which squandered almost $20 billion from previous auctions; and
(e) directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reverse their rural and remote broadband implementation policy, which condemns these areas, including many Indigenous communities, to years of substandard broadband and wireless services.
He said: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I want to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the fabulous member for Jonquière.
I want to praise the work of the member of Parliament for Windsor West. He has been dogged and determined in bringing fairness to the telecom charges people are paying across the country. He does an extraordinary job. He will be speaking in the House a bit later on today. Right now, he is in a press conference, ensuring that journalists across the length and breadth of the country are familiar with the NDP's five-point plan to not only save Canadians money, but also expand telecom coverage right across the country so broadband and cellular services are made available in remote areas where they are not available now.
What does the five-point NDP plan mean and what does it mean if Parliament adopts it? It could mean a savings of up to $600 a year for a Canadian. I want to go into that in some detail, because Canadians are struggling to make ends meet.
As members are aware, half of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency in any one month. Over the past few decades, we have seen more inequality and a greater struggle for average Canadian families to make ends meet. It should be a source of shame for us that the average Canadian family now has the worst family debt load in any country in the industrialized world. That means Canadians have been struggling to make ends meet and for decades, the federal government has done very little to assist them with that. We often find that lobbyists, such as the big Internet companies from the United States, which do not even pay taxes in Canada, have had an influence. The lobbyists for the telecom companies have also made a difference. Therefore, it is common sense, not rocket science, to simply have the federal government take the measures needed to make a difference in the lives of Canadians.
As we know, in the developed world, Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile, wireless and broadband services. It costs them a lot more per month than people who live in other countries. That means price gouging is taking place. The federal government has basically allowed big telecom to gouge Canadians with impunity. That has to end. The NDP five-point plan would put measures in place to ensure that would not happen anymore.
Let us take one example. This has come out of many studies, which have shown consistently that the average price for Canadians who have a two gigabyte plan per month for data, and I am among them, as I am sure many Canadians are, is now somewhere in the neighbourhood of $75 to $76 a month. How does that compare with plans in other parts of the world? Obviously if Canadians are paying too much, then putting measures in place to ensure Canadians are not being gouged makes a great deal of sense.
Similar studies show the difference between what Canadians pay and what people in other parts of the industrialized world pay. If we were in Toronto, a monthly plan for two gigabytes of data would cost about $75.50 a month. What is the price for a two gigabyte plan in Paris? The same two gigabyte plan would cost $30.91. That is a substantive difference. The difference can basically be summed up as the big telecom companies in Canada are allowed to gouge Canadians with impunity. In other parts of the world, governments have taken action to restrict the amount of money that can be gouged from the consumer.
In London, the same gigabyte plan, which is $30 in Paris and $75 in Canada, is $26.56 on average, which is $50 less per month than in Canada. In Rome, for the same plan, two gigabytes per month, one would pay $24.70. Those are European examples.
We can look at a country that is similar to our country, such as Australia, which is a vast land and differing infrastructure. Many parts of Australia are remote, as are many parts of Canada. Australia has put in place measures to ensure it had a cellphone and Internet broadband infrastructure. Australia has found that those same prices are substantially less than what they are in Canada. I mentioned $24.70 and that is the price per month in Australia. Therefore, it is $50 less a month for a two-gigabyte plan in Australia, which faces the same infrastructure challenges, as Canada does, with its vast expanse. It has a better degree of remote broadband and cellphone access. It has put in place a better infrastructure, and the cost per month for the average Australian is $50 a month less than in Canada.
I talked about Italy, and I misspoke a moment ago. In Rome, if one is looking at broadband and wireless access, it would cost $21.11, which is a profound difference to Canada. Canadians are paying about $50 more for a two-gigabyte plan, and this is just one of many examples.
Consumers living in France, the United Kingdom, Italy or in the vast expanse of Australia are paying $50 a month less for a two-gigabyte plan than we are in Canada. There is no other way to explain this except rampant price gouging and governments refusing to protect consumers. That ends today with the NDP five-point plan.
The motion was read earlier, but it is important to reiterate what the NDP five-point plan is proposing.
First, we would put a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill. This is a best practice that other countries have put in place and it has saved money for their consumers.
Second, we would abolish data caps for broadband Internet and mandate that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services. This abolishing of the data cap has also made a substantive difference for consumers in other countries who are paying substantially less, $600 a year less. What could the Canadian population, the middle-class, working-class families, do with that $600 more they are paying compared to the Italian, French, English or Australian consumers. There is simply no way to legitimize or justify the price gouging that is taking place.
Third, we would put an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a telecom consumers’ bill of rights.
Fourth, we would revisit the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit.
Fifth, we would redirect the CRTC to stop its interpretation that is guaranteeing substandard broadband and wireless services for rural and remote communities.
This five-point plan makes sense to everybody but the big telecom lobbyists. It makes sense for Parliament to adopt it today. The result would be a $600 saving per year for the average Canadian family. It would make a difference.
Therefore, I urge all members to vote for the NDP five-point plan to reduce the cost of telecom and to expand services in the country.