CRTC ASKED TO RECONSIDER AFFORDABILITY SUBSIDY
Lower-income Canadians, fixed income earners and seniors should have access to “basic service” including broadband
OTTAWA, April 5, 2017 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), ACORN Canada (ACORN) and National Pensioners Federation (NPF) today jointly filed an application to review and vary the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) “Review of basic telecommunications” decision to reconsider a fund to ensure all Canadians, including lower-income Canadians, have equal access to broadband and other telecommunications services.
“The CRTC missed a crucial opportunity to level the playing field so that all Canadians, regardless of their socio-economic status, can have access to the same standard of internet and telephone service that the CRTC said all must have”, said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC. “We must ask, therefore, on behalf of Canada’s least well-off, for the CRTC to use their mandate and authority to create an affordability fund.”
The “affordability funding mechanism” (AFM) proposal was filed with the CRTC in the basic service hearing last year by a coalition named the Affordable Access Coalition, which included PIAC, ACORN and NPF. The AFM would provide low-income Canadians with a monthly subsidy to use on the telecommunications service of their choice (broadband, home phone or cellphone service) and from the service provider of their choice.
“The CRTC found that broadband, like home telephone service, is a ‘basic’ telecommunications service that all Canadians should have access to so that they are able to participate in Canadian society and the digital economy,” said Herb John, President of the NPF. “Therefore Canadian seniors and those on a fixed incomes should not be shut out of these essential services simply because they lack the means to access them,” he added.
Jonethan Brigley, ACORN Canada national board member, added: “The CRTC tossed the hot potato of fair access to broadband to the federal government – but Canada Budget 2017 shows the feds only want to play a supporting role. We need CRTC leadership or there will be no real change.”
A copy of PIAC, ACORN and NPF’s Application to review and vary Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-496 can be found on PIAC’s website at www.piac.ca.