Province wants to call Ottawa on cellphone bills

Maple Ridge MLA pushing for better terms

Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith wants to point out to the federal government that 15,549 people in B.C. are not happy with their cellphone service.

Premier John Horgan earlier appointed D’Eith to the task of trying to get more affordable and transparent cellphone options.

Cellphones were a major issue in October’s federal election.

“I’m going to hold the new Government of Canada and Opposition to these promises on behalf of British Columbians,” D’Eith said Tuesday.

The federal government is responsible for regulating telecommunications.

D’Eith said, via teleconference, that 92 per cent of households have cellphones and the devices are no longer luxuries, but necessities.

He announced a new report titled, Cellphone Billing Transparency: What We Heard, which included 15,549 responses from earlier this year.

Its key findings were that cellphone contracts and bills are difficult to understand, that there should be more affordability and choice, and that costs add up for families with multiple cellphones.

More than 90 per cent of B.C. households now have at least one cellphone, while fewer than 60 per cent have a land line.

Simon Gibson, MLA, Abbotsford-Mission, questioned D’Eith’s appointment.

“It’s unfortunate that our provincial government would raise the public’s expectations by assigning an MLA to such a vague role, given that telecommunications is a federal responsibility, ” Gibson said.

“Cellphone users need to have some confidence in their plans and ensuring their affordability, but a provincial government MLA can hardly be expected to have any impact on this whatsoever. This sounds like an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars to send Bob D’Eith to Ottawa to try to take on an issue he has no jurisdiction over.”

D’Eith said that, as a lawyer, he was surprised to learn that people don’t get a copy of their cellphone contract until after they sign it.

“That’s the sort of thing we could look at for legislative response,” D’Eith said.

He also said the government can now lobby for B.C. residents who are unhappy with cellphones and improve consumer rights education.

“If nothing is done, we will act, and that’s something important to note,” D’Eith said.

“Now is the time to engage with federal partners, build consensus and find solutions that will improve the lives of British Columbians and all Canadians,” Horgan said in a release.



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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