NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he wants to make everyday life more affordable for Canadians and plans to start with their cellphone and internet bills.
Flanked by local candidates and union members, in Windsor, Ont., Singh said on Wednesday that if elected prime minister he would work with the CRTC to force large telecommunications companies to reduce prices and cap fees below the global average.
“What it really takes is having the courage to do so,” he said.
Singh said his plan would save the average family $1,000, and he noted that in the 2019 election Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised to cut cellphone bills to save that much per year for a family of four.
But that has not materialized, and Trudeau has sided with telecom companies over families, he said.
A Liberal Party spokesman responded to Singh’s comments, citing a Statistics Canada report that says consumer prices for cellular services have decreased by 21.5 per cent from June 2020 to June 2021.
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association also reacted to Singh’s comments, citing the same report.
“Government regulation of retail prices is not only unnecessary, it would result in less competition, job losses, and stifle innovation and investment,” said Robert Ghiz, the association’s president and CEO.
Singh spoke near the Peace Fountain at Convent Gardens in downtown Windsor, with the Detroit River and the United States setting a scenic background behind him.
He said unlimited internet plans should be truly unlimited, and not see speeds slow down once a certain amount of usage is reached.
Singh also said that internet access is increasingly important, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic when Canadians had to work and attend school from home.
“This is a massive problem because for people now this is not a luxury,” said Singh, who added that improving cell and internet services in Indigenous, rural, and remote communities would be a priority for an NDP government.
“This is about work, this is about education, this is about accessing services.”
Local NDP candidate Brian Masse, who has represented the riding of Windsor West in parliament since 2002, said his constituents sometimes get nicked with roaming charges when they’re close to the U.S.-Canada border.
“It’s one of the ripoffs that’s been taking place for consumers over these last number of years,” said Masse, who has worked on the industry portfolio for the NDP during his time in office.
“I’ve seen one thing that’s consistent: Liberals and Conservatives and the CRTC have sided against consumers, and they’ve gone with the big telcos. That’s resulted in Canada having some of the highest charges for data and for usage and some of the worst connections.”
Singh had a news conference with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens on Wednesday afternoon to announce that the federal NDP was supporting the city’s plan to improve local infrastructure, particularly to try and prevent floods.
“The federal government has to be a better partner to municipalities,” said Singh, adding that the City of Windsor’s requests align with the NDP’s values.
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