Skip to main content

Canada’s telecom regulator says the average household spent nearly $223 every month on communications services, including mobile phones, landlines, internet and cable TV, in 2016.

But low-income households are spending exponentially more than higher-income earners as a percentage of their income, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s latest communications monitoring report.

The snapshot of expenditures shows households with incomes below $32,090 spent 8.6 per cent of what they earned in 2016 on communications.

That compares with just 1.7 per cent of income for households earning above $130,000.

The report also revealed the amount spent on mobile devices in Canada increased by 8.8 per cent from 2015 to 2016, while telephone landline expenditures declined by the same rate.

Spending on cable and satellite TV services fell by 1.4 per cent during the same period, while Canadians spent 6.5 per cent more for internet services.

The report also revealed more than 12 per cent of Canadian households had no subscriptions to either internet or mobile services.

Internet freedom advocacy group OpenMedia says the report adds to evidence lower-income Canadians are at the losing end of the digital age.

“The idea that anyone should be spending 8 per cent of their income towards communications services is absurd and unfair,” OpenMedia digital-rights advocate Katy Anderson said.

“We need more affordable options now.”

The partial report, compiled using data from Statistics Canada and the CRTC, was released on Thursday on the regulator’s website. It indicates spending by households in 2016 averaged $27.50 monthly for telephone landlines, $49.50 for internet, $53.75 for TV distribution and $92.08 for mobile services.

Rural households in Saskatchewan spent the most over all, with monthly bills averaging $282.17, while urban dwellers in Quebec spent the least, $169.94 on average.