Truth Tracker: Would Singh's plan to cap cellphone and internet bills work?
TORONTO -- On Day 3 of the election campaign, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh focused on consumer issues, once again vowing to put a price cap on cellphone and internet services if his party forms government.
Singh said his measure could lower a family’s cellphone and internet bills by about $250 per year. He also said he would force telecom companies to provide basic plans with unlimited data.
While it's true that Canadians are charged some of the highest basic wireless rates on the planet, Singh’s proposed solution may have the opposite effect.
Many industry experts and advocacy groups told CTV News, which is owned by BCE Inc., that a price cap would drive up costs, instead of lowering them. They say it could stifle innovation and competition.
“A lot of these political arguments about Canadian wireless are old news or outright misconceptions,” Robert Ghiz, President and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, told CTV News in a statement.
“The cost of wireless continues to go down even as consumers are paying more each year for things like food, shelter and transportation,” he said, adding that Canadians can choose between different price points when it comes to wireless packages.
The issue itself resonates with voters.
An annual inventory of Canada’s phone and internet rates commissioned by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada found last year that Canadians often paid considerably more than wireless users in other G7 countries and Australia.
Head-to-head comparisons found that for unlimited talk and text and two gigabytes of data, Canadians paid an average $75.44 a month in 2018. That was more than three times as much as Australians, and almost three times much as those in the U.K.
However, the average cost of such a plan has been substantially reduced since that report came out. And Canadians can now get a wireless plan with unlimited data and 10 gigabytes of maximum speed for between $50 and $75 per month.
For a top-end wireless package, Canadians paid the most in 2018 -- an average of $227.87 a month for a shared plan of unlimited talk and text and 10 to 49 gigabytes of data across three mobile phones. But that changed this year, with Canada’s national carriers, including Bell, offering top-end packages with 50 gigabytes of data for $125 per month.
Since 2008, mobile prices have generally trended downwards in Canada and they continued to drop in 2019.
This story has been updated to reflect the changes in monthly pricing unveiled by Canadian wireless carriers in 2019.