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In a Facebook Live video today, Jagmeet Singh announced his intention to make phone bills cheaper for Canadians. He claims telecom companies are “ripping Canadians off.”
In an interview with CTV, he exclaimed, “We’re very confident that people deserve and need access to affordable data.”
In an article I previously wrote, I suggested that Canada needs to adopt a more libertarian free-market approach to allow competition to reduce prices for consumers. It seems as though Jagmeet Singh, being a big-government left-wing Social Democrat, takes a surprisingly similar position.
His plan would include the introduction of a price cap until the industry becomes more competitive. The NDP says that this would also lower bills by at least $10 per month on average.
According to NDP, the average price of an internet plan with a 25 Mbps download speed and 200GB data is $53 a month in Canada. In comparison, the OECD average is $38 a month. The NDP’s proposed cap for such a plan would be $43 a month.
For a cell phone plan with 300 calls and one GB data, the average price in Canada is $47 a month, compared to $29 a month in the OECD. The NDP proposes a $39 monthly cap for that plan. These price caps are part of his vision to ensure the most basic phone plans are accessible to all Canadians.
His justification for these price caps is that it has worked in Australia. Singh is not wrong.
However, one thing that Singh must realize is that too much control on the prices will drive down investor confidence. While his move will certainly serve to stimulate competition in the short run, in the long run, he must abolish these barriers and work to ensure there is organic competition within the telecom sector.
One area where Singh comes with a brilliant plan is to encourage telecom companies to abolish data caps for broadband internet. He wants to force companies to create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services. Countries such as the US already have this in place.
He further mentions a “Telecom Bill of Rights” which, although he offers very little detail on, is “aimed at taking on sales and services practices.” This area is something that needs more scrutiny, as Trudeau’s move to create a “Digital Bill of Rights” descended into criticism of veiled Orwellianism.
Lastly, he wants to revisit how spectrum auctions work to make sure Canadians benefit the most from the revenue of these sales of licenses to transmit signals. Canada’s spectrum auctions have either benefited the “Big 3” (Telus, Rogers, and Bell) or have been inefficiently allocated to companies resulting in a loss for the government, and Singh wants to change that. How he plans to exactly address this is unclear, but it’s a first step in creating such rhetoric.
The Liberals vowed in the 2019 budget that, by 2026, 95% of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to high-speed internet. The internet is something many in rural Canada still have limited, if no, access to. Singh wants to ensure it’s done economically and efficiently.
On his Facebook Live video, Singh further stressed that countries like India have internet plans that are “70 times cheaper than Canada’s.”
Speaking during a news conference on Parliament Hill Monday afternoon, Singh said that young people are one group really feeling the burden of these big bills.
“We need access to [the] internet, to data for work, for school, we need it to stay in touch with people, it’s a way of communication, it’s become a necessity and it’s so incredibly expensive,” Singh said. “Our plan today is to change that, we’re saying ‘you know what? Enough.'”
The NDP has tabled an opposition day motion calling on the House to push the government to move forward on its plan immediately.
Singh must also try and convince that the big-government MPs from his party don’t propose a greater plan for the nationalization of telecom, which will only further aggravate the inefficiencies Canadians face today. While his policies are sound and effectively tackle the middle and lower income groups in Canada, he must ensure that his vague “Telecom Bill of Rights” doesn’t infringe upon personal liberties and tackles only the companies that have ruined our telecom sector.
What do you think of Jagmeet’s phone plans? Do you think this can provide Canadians with better coverage and lower prices? Let us know in the comments below!