An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information)

Sponsor

Dan Mazier  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Dec. 12, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-288.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Telecommunications Act to require Canadian carriers to make easily available certain information in respect of the fixed broadband services that they offer.
It also requires the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to hold public hearings to inform its determinations on how Canadian carriers are to fulfill this obligation.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

April 26, 2023 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information)
Nov. 30, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information)

Telecommunications ActPrivate Members' Business

April 26th, 2023 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 3:25 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C‑288.

Call in the members.

The House resumed from April 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑288, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information), be read the third time and passed.

Telecommunications ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2023 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to thank everyone who has supported Bill C-288.

I want to thank Canadians who demanded this bill, particularly the rural Canadians, who understand the frustration of paying for Internet that fails to live up to advertised speeds, but Bill C-288 would not only impact rural Canadians; it would impact all Canadians who buy Internet service.

I thank my Conservative colleagues, who continue to fight for more competition and lower prices in the telecom industry. I thank the experts, including those from OpenMedia, Dr. Reza Rajabiun, those from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority and Tamir Israel, who generously provided advice and feedback on this bill.

I thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and the member for Windsor West for their continued support on this pro-consumer legislation. I thank the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology for studying this legislation quickly and effectively. I thank all the members of this House who have supported Bill C-288 and who will hopefully continue to do so.

As a wise man once famously said, “Only when the tide goes out do you learn who has been swimming naked.” I will tell members, when the tide goes out on the Internet companies that have been selling Canadians misleading speeds, we will see. For years, the government has allowed Internet companies to legally sell Internet speeds that simply do not exist. While countries around the world have implemented laws to protect their consumers, the Canadian government has sat idly by. Canadians deserve to know what Internet speeds they are paying for, and Canadians should accept nothing less.

Telecommunications ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2023 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for presiding again today. They should give you an honorary badge, half a robe or something because you are doing a good job, as usual.

I appreciate the opportunity to intervene on Bill C-288. I want to start with a bit about process before I get into the content. I think it is important for those who are watching today to understand more about how this place works.

I also want to congratulate the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. We have limited chances in this place to make a real difference. The way it works for Private Members' Business is that our names are all put into a drum, so to speak. We can think of it like a ping pong ball being drawn. We each get a number assigned to us; this allows each of us to have the possibility of a private member's bill or motion presented here in the chamber. In a minority Parliament, it is very rare to get through a lot of these slots. It is difficult even with a majority government.

When we get the chance or opportunity, in many respects, it is like winning the lottery. What do members do after that? They decide what they want to do with their legislative agenda. They can bring a motion. The motion could pass, and it may be a really good motion on any number of subjects, but it may not change law. It changes the law only if the government decides to use it, because it is not binding in the House of Commons.

We can also bring through legislation. In the history of this place, it is very difficult to get private members' legislation passed. It does happen. I hope that this Parliament will actually set a record.

I think the member needs to be congratulated because he has brought forth a reasonable approach to an issue that is really important for all Canadians, as well as for consumers. I think it is important for the House to show that at the end of the day, we can actually use Private Members' Business for good.

It can be any government; I do not care whether it is red or blue over there. Eventually we want it to be orange, but that is for another day. Nobody over there just owns all the best ideas. This place needs more of them.

I congratulate the member because he has a specific thing here to fix broadband services and bring greater accountability to their advertising and what they are promoting, which is critical in a couple of contexts. One is obviously truth in advertising. This bill would give more expectations and oversight to ensure that when services are advertising certain speeds, consumers actually get that. That is important for making purchasing decisions.

However, this is not just about how fast someone can download entertainment, whether it is a Disney movie, a cat video, a squirrel waterskiing on YouTube or whatever. The reality is that when people make these decisions, whether they are businesses or individuals, speed can matter. We have seen that come to fruition. I think that is something that gets lost in this bill.

The government once had immigration numbers, where someone's spot in line would be determined by getting online. I do not like that. If someone had a better speed at that time, their case was advanced over other people's cases. If we think about other businesses that require the proper speeds and services they pay for, it adds a consequence that is more than just the entertainment value that I talked about earlier.

I think that part really needs to be mentioned a couple of times. If someone owns a business or wants to spend extra money on this type of service, they should get it. If they do not get it, there are real consequences.

I am a PlayStation gamer, and I play Apex Legends with my friends. If my speed is interrupted, that has very few consequences. However, if it is a tool and die manufacturer or some other business that requires more real-time analysis and quicker responses, and their competitors have an edge over them, that has a consequence for their overall income.

I mentioned the immigration case where it actually had consequences for people's casework in becoming Canadian citizens in reality. They are not doing that anymore.

My point is that, on the surface, this bill might seem like a consumer-friendly approach to doing things that should be done anyways. However, at the end of the day, the consequences can be quite real.

I also want to commend the member for using previous work from the House of Commons. I was on the industry committee. I am going to read the title of something we studied in 2021. It was called “Affordability and Accessibility of Telecommunications Services in Canada: Encouraging Competition to (Finally) Bridge the Digital Divide”. We had a recommendation for truth in advertising related to speeds and services.

I think the member using that bipartisan work that was done in committee and taking a recommendation is a clever way, a smart way and also a good way, because we never saw any action on it. We did not see the government act and complete it. I am not saying that that the government is derelict or negligent on that, but unfortunately many committee studies do not see actual results because of the volume of work; because the issue is not “sexy” enough, in terms of grabbing attention; or because the government does not totally agree with it.

The member went back, and on that committee we had the Bloc, the NDP, the Conservatives and the Liberals, and then the report was tabled here in the House where the Green Party could also look at it and also other independents. They do not participate in the committee structure formally, but informally they can, so it has gotten the eyes of all of this place here. Using that recommendation and pulling from it is actually, again, another reason to say “thanks”, because resources were spent in this place to do that study, resources like money and time, all the staffing support and the researchers who did the work in previous Parliaments. They do not want it buried and put on a shelf with other studies in this place.

It is actually getting life again, and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa deserves credit for that, because that is all work that took place. We passed it the first time and it went to committee. I was at committee. The member showed up and gave testimony. We had other submissions, and it basically survived the test of mettle of another review, and that is why we are back here today.

From what I understand, we are supporting it as New Democrats. I hope the bill is going to get unanimous support in this chamber and then move to the Senate. For people who are watching this time, it is a private member's bill, and it could actually have a real impact, if it goes before the summer to the Senate.

Perhaps we could see the bill come out of the Senate and passed before we actually have the end of the session. That would be awesome, because it would then provide, again, some more accountability out there, and it would show that parliamentary work can get done. Despite question period, which is a time that is not the best environment to see things, there are times when we actually work quite well together and use Canadian resources to the best of our abilities.

I am going to finally wrap up by saying New Democrats are really pleased to see the bill go forward. I am hoping the member has it passed. I worked with the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood on his private member's bill on single-event sports betting that was passed and made law. I took my legislation off the table and gave the spot to him. He used his spot in a non-partisan way. We actually worked together on that issue, and I am hoping the member gets similar results here and that we can see the bill come into law before the end of the session.

I am going to wrap and say thanks again.

Telecommunications ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2023 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, it is a good day for Canadians because they are one step closer to knowing what Internet service they are actually paying for.

We all know the story, especially for those who live in rural Canada. Canadians across this country buy expensive Internet services only to realize that they do not receive the speeds that were advertised to them. This is because the government allows Internet companies to sell speeds that Canadians may never get.

The speeds that customers see when they go to purchase Internet are not guaranteed, and they are rarely minimum or average speeds. Instead, the government allows Internet companies to advertise maximum theoretical speeds. Such words as “up to” are used in these advertisements, leading consumers to believe that an Internet service is better than it is.

For example, when a Canadian goes to buy an Internet package, they may purchase download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second and upload speeds of 10 megabits per second. However, they may never get those speeds. A customer does not even know what speeds they are most likely to receive. Some may say that this is illegal; it is false advertising. However, it is not; the government allows it to happen. Bill C-288 addresses this by providing customers with accurate and transparent information. Simply put, it clarifies what an Internet service a customer is buying.

First, this legislation would mandate Internet companies to provide Canadians with typical download and upload speeds and not maximum theoretical speeds. No longer would Canadians be given best-case scenarios. Instead, they would have realistic expectations. This would allow them to make informed decisions about which service best fits their needs and budget.

Second, Bill C-288 would provide Canadians with quality metrics during peak usage times. It is no secret that service quality is better when no one is using the Internet, but we should face it: Most of us are online at the same time as everyone else. Knowing the Internet speed at 7 p.m. is more relevant than knowing the speed at 3 a.m.

The legislation would also initiate a process to allow industry, advocacy groups and the public to work together to develop a model that is in the public's best interest. The Telecommunications Act lacks a public interest component. Therefore, it is very important that any amendment to the Telecommunications Act stresses the importance of putting consumers first. Canadians need to trust the information given to them, and this collaborative approach will help build that trust.

Finally, thanks to a Conservative amendment at the Standing Committee on Industry, Bill C-288 was strengthened by ensuring that it would be properly enforced if passed into law. When Bill C-288 was at committee, no one opposed it. I want to share some of the testimony given by the experts who appeared at committee.

Dr. Reza Rajabiun, a competition policy and telecom strategy expert said: “[Bill C-288] has the potential to achieve its stated objectives of better informing consumers and promoting competition.”

Ms. Erin Knight, a senior campaigner for OpenMedia, was very direct in urging Parliament to pass this bill quickly. She stated:

When you sign up for an Internet plan, you deserve to know what you're paying for before you pay. This legislation will make it so. At the end of the day, it's about truth and transparency. If an Internet provider is advertising certain speeds, consumers have the right to know, before they buy, whether those speeds accurately reflect average performance.

Even the commissioner and CEO of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services agreed that a problem exists with misleading speed claims. He said:

In our work, we regularly see complaints that arise when customers think they're buying something but wind up getting something different. Disclosure of service metrics might very well help to avoid this situation.

The commissioner, who rarely comments on public policy, went on to say:

...given the number of Internet service quality complaints that we see, it seems reasonable to conclude that making service metrics available to customers when they subscribe to an Internet service would be a step forward...

I know that some Internet companies have pushed back by claiming that Canadians are getting what they pay for. However, one visit to rural Canada would quickly tell a different story.

My message to the Internet service providers is this: If their service quality is, in fact, as good as they say it is, then they have nothing to worry about. I cannot imagine that Internet companies would be happy if the government allowed Canadians to pay up to the amount on their monthly bills.

Conservatives believe that more competition is needed in our telecom sector, and to improve competition, we must allow Canadians to compare accurate information because, if we make Internet companies disclose what they are selling, Canadians could make more informed decisions on what they want, and if Canadians can clearly see that one Internet service is better than another, they would take their money where they chose to. That would mean that Internet providers that sell poor quality services would be pressured to either upgrade their service or lower their prices.

In closing, I want to go back to the testimony from OpenMedia at the industry committee. Ms. Knight stated, “If we can't do this simple, uncontroversial, pro-consumer move that other countries have already done, I'll be deeply concerned about our ability as a country to make the changes we so desperately need.” I agree. If we cannot pass this simple, uncontroversial, pro-consumer bill, nothing will ever change under the government.

Let us face it. We have a long way to go, and there is a lot that still needs to change, when it comes to connectivity. It was just last month when Canada’s Auditor General confirmed that over a million Canadian households and over 50% of first nations communities still do not have access to high-speed Internet. I will let that sink in. Over one million households and 50% of first nations communities are still not connected. This is despite a government that gallivants across this country announcing billions of dollars with little to show for.

The Liberals say they are improving cellphone service, but if they travelled to rural Canada, they would quickly figure out how bad cellphone service really is. I wonder why, after eight years, Canadians still do not have cellphone coverage, despite the government claiming they do. Maybe it is because the Auditor General also revealed that the government has no targets or timelines for improving cellular services across Canada.

Can anyone believe that there are at least eight bureaucratic programs under the government for connectivity? There are eight bureaucratic programs chasing the same goal, but unable to achieve that one goal. Talk about government gatekeepers getting in the way.

Even when this bill passes, there is plenty more work needed to increase telecom competition, lower prices for consumers and improve connectivity for rural Canadians. This would be only one step in the right direction, but it would be a step that could give Canadians hope, and I am hopeful too, for a Conservative government that would find more solutions for Internet and cellphone users in Canada. Until then, let us do what we can and pass Bill C-288.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Industry and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 30th, 2023 / 10 a.m.
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Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology in relation to Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology in relation to Bill C-288, an act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology in relation to Bill C-294, an act to amend the Copyright Act (interoperability).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House also with amendment.

March 27th, 2023 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Joël Lightbound

I call this meeting to order.

Welcome, everyone, and welcome to meeting No. 64 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, November 30, 2022, we are studying Bill C‑288, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (transparent and accurate broadband services information).

Today’s meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House Order of Thursday, June 23, 2022.

We welcome Mr. Andre Arbour, director general of Industry Canada's Telecommunications and Internet Policy Branch, as a witness to answer questions that may arise as we proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. I thank him for being with us.

Let's proceed without further ado with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C‑288. We will then move on to study Bill C‑294.

I will start by clarifying that, pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), study of the preamble is deferred to the end of clause-by-clause consideration.

(Clause 1)

We are now reviewing Clause 1 and amendment CPC‑1.

Who will move this amendment?

Go ahead, Mr. Perkins.

Telecommunications ActGovernment Orders

March 23rd, 2023 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-26, an act respecting cybersecurity, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other acts. Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance to Canadians, and I am glad to see the topic debated in the House today.

Bill C-26 would amend the Telecommunications Act. I should note that any time the Telecommunications Act is changed, I am very interested. Not only am I the shadow minister for rural economic development and connectivity, but I also have a bill before Parliament, Bill C-288, that would amend the Telecommunications Act to provide Canadians better information when it comes to the service and quality they pay for.

The dependence on telecommunications throughout our society continues to grow. The uses of Internet and cellular services are foundational to both the social and economic success of Canada, so I appreciate seeing the government move forward with a bill to secure our telecommunications network through Bill C-26. However, I must ask this: What took so long?

It was over two years ago when this House of Commons passed a Conservative motion that called on the Liberal government to ban Huawei from our 5G network. Despite this motion passing in the House of Commons and the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warning the government in 2018, it took years to ban Huawei from Canada's 5G network. Therefore, is Bill C-26 important? It absolutely is. Did it take too long to get here? It absolutely did.

I should note that I recently asked if the University of British Columbia continues to work with Huawei in any form. The response was, “Yes, we do”. The government has been warned about the risks to our national security over and over again, yet we fail to see concrete action.

Analyzing Bill C-26, I have a few questions and concerns.

In its current form, Bill C-26 allows the Minister of Industry to obtain and disclose information without any checks and balances. If passed, Bill C-26 would grant the minister the power to obtain information from the Canadian telecom companies. It could, “by order, direct a telecommunications service provider to do anything or refrain from doing anything...that is, in the Minister’s opinion, necessary to secure the Canadian telecommunications system, including against the threat of interference, manipulation or disruption.”

There are no specific details on what information can be collected when it comes to personal consumer data, nor is there any clarity on who the minister could share this personal information with. Could the minister share it with other ministers or other departments? As of now, it does not say the minister could not do so.

A recent research report entitled “Cybersecurity Will Not Thrive in Darkness: A Critical Analysis of Proposed Amendments in Bill C-26 to the Telecommunications Act” stated the following on this matter:

The legislation would authorize the Minister to compel providers to disclose confidential information and then enable the Minister to circulate it widely within the federal government; this information could potentially include either identifiable or de-identified personal information. Moreover, the Minister could share non-confidential information internationally even when doing so could result in regulatory processes or private right of actions against an individual or organization. Should the Minister or [any] other party to whom the Minister shares information unintentionally lose control of the information, there would be no liability attached to the government for the accident.

I think an accident by the current government happens quite a bit.

If Parliament is going to give the minister such powers, it is imperative that checks and balances exist. It is very important that, when we discuss the ability of a government to obtain personal information from Canadians, we ensure that Canadians are protected from the unauthorized use of such information.

I should also add to this conversation the impact Bill C-26 could have on smaller Internet service providers. Small Internet companies are foundational to improving competition within Canada's telecom industry, but they are sometimes left out of the conversation.

Bill C-26 would empower the minister to “prohibit a telecommunications service provider from using any specified product or service in, or in relation to, its telecommunications network or telecommunications facilities, or any part of those networks or facilities” or “direct a telecommunications service provider to remove any specified product from its telecommunications networks or telecommunications facilities, or any part of those networks or facilities”.

We do not know what types of telecom infrastructure and equipment will be deemed a risk to our national security in the coming decades, so imagine that a local Internet service company builds a network using a specific brand of equipment. At the time, no one raises security concerns with the equipment or the manufacturer. The local Internet company is just beginning its operations, investing heavily in equipment to build a network and to compete with larger telecom companies.

Imagine that, five years later, the government deems the equipment the company invested in to be a national security threat, forcing it to remove and dispose of such equipment. The small Internet company trying to compete, which acted in good faith, has just lost a significant amount of capital because of a government decision. There is a strong possibility that this local Internet provider can no longer afford to operate.

I am hopeful this conversation can be had at committee to ensure the government is not unfairly impacting small, local and independent Internet companies. As I said, I am glad the House is debating the issue of cybersecurity, as the discussion is long overdue, but it is imperative that the issues I raised be addressed at committee, it is imperative that the issues my colleagues have raised be addressed at committee and it is imperative that the issues experts have raised be addressed at committee. That is why I will be voting to send Bill C-26 to committee in hopes that these concerns can be addressed.

March 20th, 2023 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Iqwinder Gaheer Liberal Mississauga—Malton, ON

Great. Thank you.

My next question is for Ms. Knight.

You mentioned similar initiatives put in place by other countries. How does Bill C-288 compare? Could it be stronger? If so, in what ways?

March 20th, 2023 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses for a very comprehensive meeting thus far.

In advance of Bill C-288 coming before our committee, a number of the telecommunications companies wrote to my office and stated that MP Mazier's bill is unnecessary and, in their view, unworkable. They cited two key reasons, one being their commitment under the wireless code to communicate with customers in a way that is clear, timely and accurate, and that uses plain language. That's under the wireless code.

The second reason they gave was the Internet Code. They said that under the Internet code, “A service provider must communicate with customers in a way that is clear, easy to understand, timely, accurate, and accessible and that uses plain language.” They also cited some rules under the Competition Act about deceptive advertising and they outlined that the CRTC has conducted two studies about wireline Internet speeds, and the findings by an independent company were that wireline ISPs generally provide the speeds that they advertise.

I'll go to Erin first.

Erin, I'm not going to outline which companies wrote me on this, but would you agree in general? What do you think of the comments I just made? I'll leave it there.

March 20th, 2023 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Han Dong Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Right.

This bill, Bill C-288, will “require Canadian carriers to make easily available certain information in respect of the fixed broadband services that they offer”, which means that this information right now is not available to consumers. If that's the case, how do you resolve a case or how do you prove to the providers that they haven't delivered what they promised?

March 20th, 2023 / 3:50 p.m.
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Senior Campaigner, OpenMedia

Erin Knight

I'm happy to reiterate that the new CRTC policy direction on its own will not address the broadband-speed advertising issue at hand that we're discussing. As a regulatory framework, the policy direction doesn't go far enough without a corresponding legislative application, which this bill, in particular, will provide. That's why Bill C-288, in my opinion, is complementary to the policy direction and not contradictory to it, and that's all the more reason why Bill C-288 is not controversial.

March 20th, 2023 / 3:45 p.m.
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Erin Knight Senior Campaigner, OpenMedia

Thank you.

Good afternoon. My name is Erin Knight. Today I'm calling in from New York City, which is the traditional homeland of the Lenape.

Thank you for the chance to speak today on behalf of the OpenMedia community, comprising nearly 300,000 people in Canada. OpenMedia is a non-partisan grassroots organization that works to keep the Internet open, affordable and surveillance-free.

It's my sincerest pleasure to be here today in full support of Bill C-288. OpenMedia was very pleased to see all the parties come together to advance this bill to the committee stage, because—let's be clear—Bill C-288 is not a controversial piece of legislation. We can all agree that it serves to empower everyday people, support their right to high-quality connectivity and protect them from shady business practices by big telecom. Improvements to the status quo will benefit every person in this room and people in Canada writ large.

With that said, I'm happy to share some of the specific reasons that parliamentarians on all sides should be eager to pass this bill.

I will begin by sharing an important statistic: According to a September 2022 survey for Globalive, people in Canada view our telecom sector more negatively than any other industry. It's no wonder. If you talk to the average Canadian, they'll tell you that big telecom is very good at squeezing customers on not only pricing but also the value received for services purchased.

I'm referring, of course, to advertised Internet download speeds versus the actual speeds customers receive on average. Over the years, members of the OpenMedia community have raised concerning discrepancies between the two. In general, the problem goes something like this: ISPs might advertise a certain speed for a particular plan. A customer subscribes to that plan, believing that is the speed they are paying for, only to discover their connection is far slower than that speed during the times they actually need to use it. This is because the service agreement says their plan only goes “up to” the advertised speed, but there are no promises. This information is not plainly shared with customers, but instead hidden in the fine print.

To illustrate this, I will take a moment to share the experience, in their own words, of Angela, a low-income member of the OpenMedia community: “Two and a half years ago, I signed up for Internet 600 with Shaw.... I have never once received the actual Internet speed I was paying for. It has always been artificially capped at around 300 Mbps or sometimes even 200 Mbps.... Trying to upgrade to the newer, faster option...would carry a bigger price tag with no guarantee or even any reason to believe they would actually deliver on the improved service. The prices are always going up and the service is unreliable and falsely advertised. These problems have existed across the board with all the big Internet companies.”

Bill C-288 tackles this issue clearly and concisely. When you sign up for an Internet plan, you deserve to know what you're paying for before you pay. This legislation will make it so. At the end of the day, it's about truth and transparency. If an Internet provider is advertising certain speeds, consumers have the right to know, before they buy, whether those speeds accurately reflect average performance.

There's a fundamental reason that we need this to come in legislative form, rather than relying totally on the regulator. I want to make clear the difference between the new CRTC policy direction and Bill C-288, and how the direction needs to work in tandem with legislation like this if we hope to see any of the protections we're discussing today implemented.

The policy direction tells the CRTC how to interpret cases in front of them in a way that promotes competition, affordability and consumer interest. It's a framework that will only apply to future CRTC regulatory decisions moving forward. The direction can only help the commission interpret what is in front of them. There is no CRTC proceeding explicitly taking place right now that is related to broadband speed advertising, so there is nothing on the topic for the commission to apply the policy direction to. Without the application component, we will not see this issue move forward at the CRTC.

Bill C-288 is that legislative application. The bill directly mandates the CRTC to hold public hearings on this issue. That means the bill would immediately put the broadband speed advertising item in front of the commission, giving the CRTC the opportunity to apply the policy direction framework.

In closing, I'd like to remind us all where Bill C-288 sits in the wider scope of the transformative changes we need to urgently make in telecom in Canada. If I can be frank, this is the lowest-hanging fruit. If we can't do this simple, uncontroversial, pro-consumer move that other countries have already done, I'll be deeply concerned about our ability as a country to make the changes we so desperately need.

Thanks, and I look forward to your questions.

March 20th, 2023 / 3:45 p.m.
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Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services

Howard Maker

With regard to Bill C-288, we've said publicly and regularly that being fully informed is really the best protection that a consumer can have.

CCTS is not a policy-making or a regulatory body, nor do we advocate for either industry or consumer interests, but given the number of Internet service quality complaints that we see, it seems reasonable to conclude that making service metrics available to customers when they subscribe to an Internet service would be a step forward in ensuring that they understand what they're getting and in achieving our objective of full disclosure. In our work, we regularly see complaints that arise when customers think they're buying something but wind up getting something different. Disclosure of service metrics might very well help to avoid this situation.

For these reasons, you can appreciate why Bill C-288 is of interest to us.

We thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss it. Of course, we're happy to answer any questions you may have about our work.