Liberals, NDP call for legislation to loosen cellphone contract restrictions

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

If you've ever tried to cancel a contract with one of Canada's major cellphone providers, I'd be willing to bet that you've cursed at one of Canada's major cellphone providers.

If you're stuck in one of those now, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.

The CRTC recently concluded public consultation for a proposed code-of-conduct for the industry and — surprise, surprise — the issue most people complained about was those pesky three-year contracts.

Whether the CRTC will actually do anything about it, however, remains to be seen.

Several provinces including Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba have introduced legislation regarding cellphone contracts. And now it looks as if there are some politicians in Ottawa who want to tackle the issue as well.

[ Related: Cellphone users want roaming charges capped ]

On Tuesday, Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau issued a statement suggesting that opening up the industry to more competition would lead to better contractual terms for consumers.

His party's consumer affairs critic, Geoff Regan, goes further, calling for federal legislation

"We need to set out clear policies to guide the CRTC," Regan told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Because the Conservatives have failed to act, various provinces are adopting their own rules and the protection provided to consumers can depend on which province they live in. This piecemeal approach is not acceptable."

Glenn Thibeault, the NDP's critic, agrees. He said that if the CRTC doesn't do anything, the government needs to step in with legislation.

[ Related: Cellphone use is contagious, study finds ]

Thibeault told Yahoo! that NDP legislation would have five key components.

"I'd really like us to see some clear and coherent billing statements. I'd also like to see codified cancellation fee calculations. Max two year contracts, especially when the life of a smart phone usually is two years," he said.

"And have national standards, and then have administrative monetary penalties for those that would violate these national standards."

According to Digital Home, the major carriers in Canada have the bulk of the market share.

New wireless entrants such as WIND, Mobilicity, and Videotron account for only 4 percent of the 27 million cellphones in the country.

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