Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-43 and the benefits it would have for Canadian consumers and businesses.
Our government has taken decisive action on putting Canadian consumers first. We have cut taxes nearly 180 times, which is saving Canadian families nearly $3,400 per year on average. Our government has also committed to making it easier for small and medium-size businesses to invest, innovate, grow and create jobs. We are keeping taxes low, freezing EI rates for next year, cutting red tape and returning to balanced budgets. Canada is one of the most tax-competitive countries and has the best job creation among the G7, and we will continue down that path.
Budget 2014 continued with these commitments, including consumer-focused measures to ensure that Canadian families would get value for their hard-earned dollars and measures that would help small and medium-size businesses to thrive.
Specifically, economic action plan 2014 committed to introduce administrative monetary penalties for the violation of rules in the telecommunications sector; eliminated the practice of pay-to-pay billing so Canadian consumers would not have to pay extra to receive paper bills; clarified the prohibitions against violating Industry Canada's spectrum auction rules to ensure fair and competitive bidding that would achieve the greatest benefit for Canadians; modernized Canada's intellectual property framework to better align it with international practices and reduced the burden for Canadian businesses; and continued to ensure that Canadian businesses and investors would have the market access they needed to succeed in the global economy.
I would like to take a few moments to explain these important initiatives and the benefits they will have for Canadian consumers and small businesses.
Our government is committed to ensuring that companies in the telecom sector play by the rules. That is why we are introducing new enforcement measures that will increase consumer protection in this sector. Bill C-43 would amend the Telecommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Act to provide the CRTC and the industry minister with the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties on companies and individuals that would violate the rules. Companies would face penalties of up to $10 million and up to $15 million for subsequent violations. These new measures would provide Canadian regulators with the needed tools to ensure companies would comply with the rules. They would protect Canadian consumers and support a competitive marketplace by promoting regulatory compliance and providing for appropriate remedies should violations occur.
Canadian consumers have been clear that they expect lower prices and better services from telecommunications providers. That is why our government committed to ending unfair pay-to-pay billing practices, putting the interests of Canadian consumers first.
More and more Canadians are finding a new charge appearing on their monthly bills, including their wireless bill. This fee is charged to those who receive their bill by mail. Increasingly, many Canadians are being charged for this new fee by companies from which they have been receiving service for decades.
In August, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre published a report in which it estimated that Canadians paid between $495 million and $734 million annually in fees for monthly paper bills and statements in the banking and communications services industries.
We believe Canadians should not have to pay more to receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill. As such, economic action plan 2014 commits to ending this unfair practice. Bill C-43 would end these pay-to-pay billing practices by adding an explicit provision to the Telecommunications Act that would prohibit any person who provided telecommunications services from charging a subscriber for a paper bill. Any company that broke the rules would face penalties of up to $15 million.
Canadians have also been clear that they want their government to take action to ensure the provision of more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada's wireless sector. I am proud to note that our government has consistently introduced measures to support a healthy, robust and competitive wireless industry.
For instance, we implemented a use it or lose it policy to ensure that wireless companies that did not use their spectrum licences would lose them. We have been taking important steps to increase the amount of wireless spectrum available to provide Canadians with the access they need on the devices they choose.
In January, the government unveiled details of the 2,500 megahertz auction, which would benefit Canadians in urban and rural areas. In February, we announced the results of the 700 megahertz auction, the most successful auction of spectrum in Canadian history, generating roughly $5.3 billion in revenue for taxpayers and putting high-quality spectrum in the hands of at least four wireless providers in each region of Canada.
Bill C-43 would further ensure that spectrum auctions would be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, in accordance with rules of conduct, to the benefit of all Canadians. In particular, the bill would amend the Radiocommunication Act to require that any person who would be subject to the spectrum auction rules must comply with those rules or risk the imposition of an administrative monetary penalty of up to $15 million.
These measures would increase regulatory compliance in the wireless sector and ensure that Canadian consumers would benefit from better service.
Our government also understands that reducing red tape for small and medium-sized businesses is central to Canada's economic growth. In budget 2014, our government committed to modernizing Canada's intellectual property framework by ratifying five international treaties. Earlier this year, our government passed the first three of the treaties relating to trademarks, the Madrid protocol, the Singapore treaty, and the Nice agreement.
Bill C-43 proposes amendments to the Patent Act and the industrial design act to ratify and accede to the remaining two treaties, the patent law treaty and the Geneva act of the Hague agreement.
Overall, the amendments in Bill C-43 would harmonize Canada's intellectual property regime with international practices, standardizing and simplifying administrative processes to lower costs and reduce red tape for small businesses. In particular, these amendments would allow a company to file for industrial design protection in multiple countries through one single application, filed in one language and for one fee. The resulting administrative and financial savings to Canadian businesses would be very significant.
The amendments would also harmonize administrative aspects of Canada's patent regime with international standards. This would result in a simpler application process and reduce the risk of errors.
Modernizing Canada's intellectual property regime and bringing it in line with international standards will continue the work to foster an environment in which businesses can grow and succeed in the global economy. These measures will increase Canada's openness to trade and investment and further reduce barriers to the international flow of goods and services.
Our government is also committed to making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to invest, innovate, grow and create jobs. Bill C-43 contains updates to the Business Development Bank of Canada, which will help small and medium-sized businesses grow and succeed in an increasingly competitive and global environment.
Amendments to the Business Development Bank of Canada would help provide even more flexibility to SMEs that wish to grow beyond our borders. Changes would also establish a wider variety of consulting services for SMEs to access and help the BDC better leverage partnerships with third party organizations to improve its reach into the business community.
The BDC is the only bank in Canada solely dedicated to entrepreneurs and the legislative amendments in Bill C-43 would allow the BDC to expand its support for SMEs.
In conclusion, Bill C-43 proposes amendments that fulfill a number of the government's commitments to a stronger and more prosperous Canada. These initiatives, along with the other measures contained in the bill, will have significant benefits for Canadian consumers, families and small businesses.