Mr. Speaker, I know that the session is getting long, but I want to acknowledge you, and more importantly, your staff. We share the same floor in the Valour Building, and I think it is appropriate to say how nice the people on your team are to everyone on the floor, including to my staff. That is something to note as the session winds down, because I appreciate that.
I am proud that the member for New Westminster—Burnaby brought this motion forward. People should be concerned and upset about what is taking place with respect to mobile devices, because they are now an essential service. They are essential not only for emergencies but for the way people do business, connect to family, entertain and experience cultures and the world we have at our doorstep and beyond, as we are now connected globally with friends, family and other people.
What has happened over the last number of years is that we have squandered the opportunity as a country to make this a process we could use for innovation and investment. The reality is that the spectrum we have been selling is similar to our air, water and land. It is the people's asset. It is basically the ability to rent the space to send signals and data. That is something I do not think the Canadian public has come to realize. Previous governments, including the current government, have received over $20 billion in compensation. That should be acknowledged, because that is reflected in the pricing, when we look at Rogers, Telus and Bell, to name a few that have gone to these spectrum auctions. It has been done differently in many other parts of the world. In fact, it has increased the prices Canadians pay.
Are people happy with the status quo? If the answer is yes, if they are happy with their cellphone prices, the data policies and their experience as customers, then the Liberals and Conservatives are the people to advocate for the status quo. The motion we have put forth, which I will get into in a few moments, offers ideas that would enhance accountability, price stability and innovation for this country.
We believe that the status quo need a shake up, because Canadians download the least among developed nations, yet we experience the highest costs. If usage starts to climb, our prices are going to skyrocket to double and triple the costs we have now if we keep the status quo, which the government and the Conservatives are advocating with their strategies. They have not worked. There have been success stories with respect to how we have rolled this out. However, the reality is that we cannot keep the status quo. Canada is falling behind, not only regarding individual pricing but in blocking innovation and jobs. Most important, we are not doing anything about it, other than essentially passing it on and hoping that something is going to fix itself, and it will not.
The motion we have crafted is in line with something I have also advocated for in the House in the past, which is Motion No. 175, regarding a digital bill of rights. The digital bill of rights would have a rules-based system for everything from net neutrality to how people are treated as customers. There would be a set of rules and principles in place so that companies and customers could evaluate what they were getting into.
It is fair to say that when we go to buy a cellphone or a mobile package now, we feel frustration similar to when we buy a car, insurance or a number of different products for which there are a litany of qualifications and excuses. It can be very complicated and undermine our experience and grow our frustration. That is no way to run an essential service.
In fact, to some degree, the data cap of $10 per month we are proposing would put us in line with the average for the OECD countries. Price caps have been in place for other types of things we have had in the past, such as electricity and phones, when we rolled out phone programs in the past. Price caps and those types of measures can come and go. We have a regulatory body that could do this right now, the CRTC, to bring stability and fairness to the market.
If those caps were put in place, they would be adjusted on a yearly basis, with input from the public, the provinces, industry and consumer groups. There would be a process in place to create a sense of stability. The review process would take place every year, as I mentioned, and we would look at the average pricing in the OECD countries, which is a fair and representative way to do it.
There are some interesting anomalies out there with regard to comparables. Australia has pricing that is 40% lower than in Canada, and it has better service and range. In India it is 70% lower. What is unique to the Canadian experience right now is that our average for downloading data is low compared to different countries. As we grow to 5G and go to more content that requires more downloading, it is going to raise the price under the status quo. I hope the other parties will come around on this, because it will be a recipe for failure in the future. It will block innovation and restrict investment in this country, because countries look at our infrastructure for wireless and broadband technology as a way of measuring whether they can grow and expand their markets.
I would also note that an important part of a solution is to have a basic plan. For example, there are individuals who do not want a phone. It is an essential service right now for emergencies and connecting with families. We are moving away from land lines. Even to find a job, someone needs a reliable phone plan. We marginalize people even more when there is no basic plan. Those trying to lift themselves up into the digital economy are prevented from doing so because of the policies in place.
Data caps should be abolished. CRTC representatives appeared at committee and said that they are not going to have data caps. Rural and remote communities, where 63% of Canadians do not have high-speech Internet, are going to have unlimited data, but the speed will be half of what it would be in urban centres. They will not have more to download; they will have more waiting for buffering. They will be able to download more but will wait longer, which is not efficient. That is important to note. The CRTC, and I was quite shocked that the government did not challenge this, has decided that there will be half the speed for rural and remote areas, with no plan for these communities to eventually catch up.
Not only is the speed not based on the future, it is based on half of what there is right now. The goal of the CRTC is 2030, but at the same time, there is not even any enforcement of that. We are talking about a basic, minimal experience.
There is a telecom bill of rights. I mentioned the digital bill of rights. The same principles apply. When people go from one carrier to the next, there should be some consistency.
When I presented these ideas in the past, they were seen as absurd and could not be done. The first was unlocking cellphones. We were told that in Canada, we could not do it. New Democrats fought to have that reversed, because it was being done in the rest of the world.
The second thing I championed was cellphones being portable, because people own their numbers. Right now, our signals are dropped from carrier to carrier. That should not happen, because the spectrum belongs to all of us, and in emergencies and in other matters, it is important that the carrier transition. It is the same thing with cellphones.
In conclusion, these are practical solutions based on propositions, not just opposition. It is something I learned from Jack Layton that is now supported by the member for Burnaby South.