Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stops for a photo with a supporter as he arrives for a news conference in Windsor, Ont., on Aug. 25.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to make cellphone and internet service more affordable, but didn’t directly address how his party would bring prices down.

Speaking at an outdoor election campaign event in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, Mr. Singh said the pandemic has underscored the importance of reliable and affordable cellphone and internet service, as many Canadians worked from home and children attended virtual school.

He said his party would “cap fees” charged by big telecommunications companies, but provided no further detail. He also said his party is committed to using public resources to pay for the cost of building out necessary infrastructure in rural, remote and Indigenous communities, to give people across the country cellphone and internet access. He did not say how much funding would be required.

Story continues below advertisement

Jagmeet Singh is on a roll. This is bad news for Justin Trudeau

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Jewish Liberal candidates face racist attacks during election campaign

“The same way we look at building roads and bridges, we need to look at building the infrastructure to connect people with high-speed internet,” he said.

The NDP has released its campaign platform, but the party has said details related to the costs of its promises will be revealed later, once the proposals have been reviewed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Ben Klass, a PhD candidate at Carleton University who studies communications policy, said the main reason telecommunications rates are so high in Canada is there are only a handful of providers, meaning there is little competition on prices. He said the price cap would be a “good start,” but it wouldn’t take care of all the issues.

“The idea that we need to have some sort of control over the price of communication service in the country is definitely on the right track,” he said. But he added that such measures would create problems with figuring out different price caps for different amounts of data. The burden of figuring out the details, he said, could fall on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The Liberal Party campaigned in 2019 on a pledge to reduce cellphone bills by 25 per cent. The party said this could be accomplished within two years “by using the government’s regulatory powers, saving an average middle-class family of four nearly $1,000 a year.”

The Innovation Canada website says Bell, Telus and Rogers are expected to lower their prices by 25 per cent in the next two years, for cellphone plans that offer between two and six gigabytes of data. The website also says that, compared with a set of benchmark prices gathered in early 2020, prices for “most plans” have already decreased by between 9 per cent and 25 per cent.

But Mr. Klass said that is an oversimplification, and even if advertised rates for new plans are lowered, customers who are locked into old plans won’t necessarily see a difference. (The Innovation Canada numbers include promotional pricing.)

Story continues below advertisement

Liberal Party spokesperson Brook Simpson pointed to a summer release from Statistics Canada, which reported consumer prices for cellular services in Canada had decreased by 21.5 per cent between June, 2020, and June, 2021.

“With respect to cellphone bills, our focus is on lower prices, more competition, more innovation, and better connectivity for everyone,” he said in a statement. “We’ve made progress in recent years – and there is more to do. ... The NDP may talk a good game but never has a concrete plan to deliver the change and affordability that Canadians need.”

Just days before the launch of the federal election campaign, the Liberal government announced $1.44-billion in funding for the satellite company Telesat to expand its broadband internet and cellphone service for rural Canadians.

Conservative Party spokesperson Mathew Clancy pointed to a section of his party’s platform that outlines a plan for lowering cellphone and internet bills. The Conservatives say they would promote competition by “allowing foreign telecommunications companies to provide services to Canadian customers,” so long as Canadian companies have reciprocal treatment in the other countries.

The platform also says the Conservatives would build digital infrastructure to connect all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2025.

Follow the party leaders and where they stand on the issues this election campaign by signing up for our Morning or Evening Update newsletters.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies