British Columbia is appointing a provincial MLA to lobby the federal government on high cell phone bills.
Premier John Horgan has appointed Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, as a federal lead to advocate to Ottawa for more affordable and transparent cellphone options.
According to thousands of responses to a recent government survey, there is frustration, confusion and unhappiness with cellphone contracts and billing in B.C.
A report titled Cellphone Billing Transparency: What We Heard summarizes the 15,549 survey responses received between May 29 and July 5, 2019. Key findings include:
Cellphone contracts and bills are difficult to understand. A majority of respondents reported issues with these documents, such as an unexpected charge.
Cost and value perceptions are very poor. Just 6% of respondents agreed their service costs were reasonable, while nearly 30% added comments calling for more affordability and choice.
Service costs add up for families. More than nine in 10 B.C. households now have at least one cellphone, while fewer than six in 10 have a landline.
D’Eith, who had a leading role in creating the survey, also reached out to organizations throughout B.C. over the last year, including telecommunication companies, consumer advocates, seniors’ groups and academics.
Next steps will include engaging stakeholders in more focused discussions and undertaking a legislative review of B.C.’s consumer protection laws. As well, the Province will engage with Canada’s new government to advocate for better affordability and transparency in the federally regulated telecom sector.
While the federal government is responsible for regulating telecommunications in Canada, provinces have jurisdiction over contracts and consumer protection.