MLA made case for cheaper cellphone bills. THE NEWS – files

Maple Ridge MLA makes case for cheaper cellphones

Speaks to CRTC in frozen Ottawa

Bob D’Eith is back from frozen Ottawa but it’s unsure if he’ll be able to defrost the cellphone charges Canadians pay.

B.C. Premier John Horgan earlier appointed D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, to the task of trying to get more affordable and transparent cellphone options. Last November, D’Eith announced a report titled, Cellphone Billing Transparency: What We Heard, which included 15,549 public responses on cellphone charges.

Cellphones were a major issue in October’s federal election. The federal government is responsible for regulating telecommunications.

D’Eith appeared before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in late February to advocate for consumers, to ask for cellphone bill transparency and to ask for low-cost, no-frill cellphone plans for seniors or those on low incomes.

Read more: Province wants to call Ottawa on cellphone bills

While cellphones are within federal jurisdiction, B.C. could strengthen its consumer protection legislation to ensure people get better deals, such as requiring that people be able to read their cellphone contracts before they sign on to a plan, he said.

But pricing is definitely under federal jurisdiction and the government foster that by promoting competition, he said. As well, the CRTC should mandate low-cost, no-frill cellphone plans, he added.

Read more: Province wants to call Ottawa on cellphone bills

“We didn’t get into what the plan should look like. We just said … this is what you should be aiming for, is to make sure that seniors and low-income families are actually serviced by the industry,” D’Eith said.

D’Eith is optimistic and expects some changes to come though they have to be balanced with the investments the big telecom companies such as Telus, Bell and Rogers have to make across the country.

“I think there will be some changes coming,” he said.

The B.C. Liberals questioned the purpose of trip, noting its cellphones are strictly within federal jurisdiction.

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