Summary of Canada’s new proposed policy direction to CRTC

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

On May 26, 2022, the Government of Canada announced a new proposed policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to put in place new rules to improve competition, leading to lower prices and better telecommunications services for Canadian consumers.

The new policy direction supports the government’s efforts to ensure that telecommunications services are innovative, competitive and, most crucially, affordable. As the CRTC is an independent regulator, the policy direction outlines in clear terms the government’s priorities for these essential services.

The proposed direction would cancel the existing policy directions but bring forward the key parts of the 2019 direction to ensure that Internet and wireless services better meet the needs of Canadians. This means that the CRTC will still need to consider how its decisions can promote competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation.

The new proposed policy direction to the CRTC aims to:

Enhance wholesale Internet access and competition for more affordable Internet

It will achieve this by:

  • requiring large companies to continue to give access to competitors at regulated rates so they can offer better prices and more choices to Canadians. The CRTC must take action to have more timely and improved wholesale rates available.
  • directing the CRTC not to phase out the existing model for wholesale access by third-party competitors and instead preserve and strengthen it in conjunction with the introduction of a new access model that it is planning to introduce.
  • directing the CRTC to ensure that wholesale Internet access is available evenly across the market, including on fibre-to-the-home networks.
  • requiring large companies to make the speeds that Canadians are demanding available to competitors.

Increase mobile wireless competition for more affordable cellphone plans

It will achieve this by:

  • directing the CRTC to improve its hybrid mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model as necessary. The government is prepared to move to a full MVNO model, if needed, to support competition in the sector.

Improve consumer rights so Canadians can make better-informed choices

It will achieve this by:

  • requiring new measures to address unacceptable sales practices and improve transparency and clarity of service pricing, making it easier and more affordable for consumers to change or cancel services.
  • requiring service providers to implement mandatory broadband testing so Canadians will know that the service they’re getting is what they’re paying for.
  • directing the CRTC to improve accessibility of telecommunications services for Canadians with disabilities.
  • directing the CRTC to strengthen the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), including by giving consumers and non-industry representatives a more prominent voice in its governance.
  • raising public awareness of the CCTS and its powers to resolve disputes for consumers.

Speed up service deployment and universal access

It will achieve this by:

  • directing the CRTC to improve access to telephone poles and similar infrastructure so service providers can deploy new services more quickly.
  • directing the CRTC to continue implementing and adjusting its Broadband Fund to meet connectivity needs across the country in coordination with other programs.

Build better regulations

It will achieve this by:

  • directing the CRTC to use the tools available to gather the necessary information to make sound decisions while being more proactive in strategic planning and market monitoring.
  • directing the CRTC to ensure that its regulations are efficient and proportionate to their purpose, balancing economic regulation with competition and investment considerations.
  • combining these measures with enhanced CRTC resources to improve decision timeliness.

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