Opening remarks for the public hearing on the retail sales practices of Canada’s large telecommunications carriers

Speech

Gatineau (Quebec)
October 22, 2018

Ian Scott, Chairman
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Check against delivery

Good morning and welcome to this public hearing. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here on traditional First Nations territory. I would like to thank the Algonquin people and pay respect to their elders.

The first phase of this inquiry started on July 16 with the publication of a Notice of Consultation through which we received more than 2,300 interventions from Canadians.

For the second phase of this inquiry, we invited Canadians to answer an online panel survey and an online public survey in addition to holding focus groups, which were all conducted by Ipsos. I would like to thank all the participants for taking the time to submit their comments.

This inquiry was triggered by an Order in Council published in June 2018 concerning misleading or aggressive retail sales practices of large telecommunications carriers and the record has brought to the Commission’s attention several areas of concerns. My fellow commissioners and I are concerned by the results of the Ipsos Public Opinion Research, which were made available on the record of this Hearing on October 16th.  When 1 in 4 Canadians have reported experiencing aggressive or misleading sales practices within the last year, it would appear that consumers’ interests may not be being respected. We look forward to all parties’ views on the survey and other evidence now on the record.

Some of the retail sales practices that have been reported on the public record of this hearing, if substantiated, would not be tolerated in other industries. For instance, if you pulled into your local gas station, filled your tank and then when you went in to pay, you were told the price per litre is now higher than indicated on the pump and if you wanted the pump price you would have had to pay at the pump and now it is too late, that would be unacceptable to consumers.  If at the end of this proceeding, the record were to show that the misleading and aggressive practices are common, it would be a serious concern for us.

Today, with this public hearing, we are launching the third and final phase of our inquiry.

And the public is once again invited to participate, this time via Twitter. Valid tweets using the hashtag #CRTCforum that are posted as of 9 a.m. (EDT) this morning, and until the end of the hearing, will be added to the public record of the proceeding. These tweets will be considered for the CRTC’s report to the Government on the matter.

All this will result in a report – to be delivered by February 28, 2019 – to the Government on whether misleading or aggressive retail sales practices are used by large telecommunications service providers, their impact on consumers, as well as potential solutions to strengthen the existing consumer protections.

In the following days, we will be hearing from a number of participants including individual Canadians, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), representatives from large telecommunications companies, consumer groups, and researchers. The record of this hearing has already provided the Commission with allegations on the use of misleading or aggressive sales practices by large telecommunications service providers. This week, we will be continuing to explore evidence on all these issues and we are particularly interested in hearing about solutions and best practices that will serve the best interests of consumers and the industry as a whole.

In light of the importance of this issue, the panel for the hearing is made up of all sitting members of the CRTC - individuals who are aware of and represent the various regions and perspectives of Canada. I would like to recognize the presence of my colleagues:

  • Christianne Laizner, Vice-Chairperson, Telecommunications
  • Caroline J. Simard, Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting
  • Christopher MacDonald, Commissioner, Atlantic Region and Nunavut
  • Monique Lafontaine, Commissioner, Ontario
  • Joanne T. Levy, Commissioner, Manitoba and Saskatchewan
  • Yves Dupras, Commissioner, Quebec
  • Linda Vennard, Commissioner, Alberta and the Northwest Territories
  • And of course, myself, Ian Scott, Chairperson.

The Commission staff assisting us includes:

  • Guillaume Leclerc, Hearing Manager;
  • Yael Wexler and William Abbott, Legal Counsel; and
  • Jade Roy, Hearing Secretary.

I would now like to invite Ms. Roy to explain the procedure we will be following as she is the Hearing Secretary and is tasked with keeping us on track.
Madam Secretary…

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