Mykola Latyshko takes a television news crew on a brief tour of his Etobicoke bungalow, pointing out landline telephones in the bedrooms and an office.
Latyshko and his wife have five landline telephones in various rooms. Since the couple do not own cellular phones, the home phones represent the only way they can call the outside world.
But recently, the 95-year-old retired public school teacher says he and his wife were left without any Bell phone service for several days after the telecommunications company chose to switch his phone service from traditional copper wire to fibre.
“I’m complaining about how they’ve done it. It is inhumane,” Latyshko said, explaining how the phone company twice disconnected the couple from making or receiving calls.
“Clients should be informed you’ll be without (phone service) a day, half a day. It wasn’t done, I don’t feel it was right,” Latyshko said.
Bell is in the midst of “transitioning from its copper network to a 100 per cent fibre optic network” the company said in a written statement when asked why the Latyshkos were left without phone service Feb. 2-5 and again June 4-11.
A spokesperson told Global News the couple “would have received notice” about the changeover. But Latyshko and his daughter, who contacted Bell several times on the couple’s behalf, said they were left without service suddenly and for several days on each occasion.
Without a working telephone line, Latyshko said he and his wife had no way of calling 911 if they needed help in the event of an emergency.
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“I’m pushing 96, it can happen anytime,” he said.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which regulates Canada’s telecommunications industry, told Global News it could not comment on this specific case. However, a spokesperson said in an email that local phone providers like Bell Canada are required to provide certain services.
“For example, Bell Canada has an obligation to provide telephone services to its customers, however, the CRTC does not specify the type of facilities required to meet this obligation. As a result, Bell Canada has the flexibility to meet its obligation by using the technology of its choice.”
Bell claims Latyshko and his wife are paying less for their phone service with the new technology.
Latyshko’s main complaint isn’t new technology or the price. He says he recognizes that change is often required. But he says Bell’s decision to leave him and his wife without working phones for days was dangerous.