MPs slow to take action despite agreeing carriers should stop hiking costs of wireless services

Rogers, Shaw and Bell customers have been informed they'll pay more for some services

An urgent call for Ottawa to examine price hikes from Canada’s leading telecom providers has not resulted in action at this time.

Earlier this week, MP Rick Perkins led a call for the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology to reconvene before Parliament returned from the winter break to discuss the increase.

Rogers and Fido wireless customers not on a contract were told they would pay upwards of $9 more a month starting on January 17th. The change will apply to customers on contracts when their terms end. More than a week after MobileSyrup first reported the price hike, Rogers now says the average price increase is $5/month, depending on the plan.

Rogers also applied an $8/month price hike to some customers with Ignite bundles.

The cost of services under Shaw also increased. Internet services would go up by $4/month starting January 10th, and TV and home prices would increase by $3/month.

Bell customers are also reported to pay more for services. While the company has not confirmed a price hike, one customer told MobileSyrup they’ll pay $6/month more for their mobile plan come February.

Telus has not announced a price hike at this time. However, questions about a possible hike have been left unanswered.

Of particular concern during the committee meeting was the pledge Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri made roughly a year ago, stating Rogers’ $26-billion takeover of Shaw would lead to mobile prices coming down.

When François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, approved the transfer of Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron, which was key to Rogers taking over Shaw, he provided Rogers with several conditions.

“If Canadians do not begin to see a clear and meaningful reduction in prices within a reasonable amount of time as a result of this decision, I will have no choice but to use further legislative and regulatory powers to drive down prices,” Champagne said on March 31st.

While all MPs agreed the price hikes were important and should be examined, some failed to match those statements with action.

Some raised questions about how it would impact some of the other work the committee is doing, particularly its study into Bill C-27, the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act.

“I am very disappointed that the government members say it’s urgent but actually don’t want to study it,” Perkins said.

Others said it would be better to start with the motion MP Sébastien Lemire put forward in September to conduct an in-depth study examining the accessibility and affordability of wireless products, technological advancements such as 5G, and the expansion of mobile connectivity.

The committee agreed to conduct that study when they had more time to allocate to it.

“My biggest fear is that we’re looking at doing one and a half things at the same time,” MP Tony Van Bynen said. “It’s important that we give full consideration to the issue at hand, and if we’re genuinely concerned about it, let’s make sure that it’s a thorough analysis and that we get all facts.”

The meeting was suspended as MPs could not come to a decision before the allocated time expired.

Updated January 12, 2023, 1:09pm ET: Rogers now says the average price hike is $5/month.

Image credit: Shutterstock 

Related Articles