Canada plans legislation to end pay-to-pay billing fees

The federal government plans to introduce legislation that would halt the practice of charging fees for paper bills, an issue highlighted by the CRTC’s criticism of Canadian telecom companies’ pay-to-pay practices.

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Industry Minister James Moore says the federal government is planning legislation that would end pay-to-pay billing fees – which are charged to customers who receive bills in the mail. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Industry Minister James Moore said Friday that the government legislation will put an end to what he calls the unfair pay-to-pay fees.

Moore said Canadians expect lower prices and better service from telecom service providers. The government has twice promised to end pay-to-pay policies: In its October 2013 throne speech and in the 2014 budget.

Moore’s announcement came a day after after executives from nearly a dozen major telecom companies — including Bell, Rogers and Telus — met with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in Gatineau, Que.

The companies vowed to exempt some customers from pay-to-pay fees: 

  • Seniors.
  • Individuals with disabilities.
  • Military veterans.
  • Customers with no internet connections.

In a statement released after the meeting, regulators said the exemptions don’t go far enough.

CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais said “many Canadians who will not benefit from the exemptions will be disappointed with the outcome so far.”

Blais also praised the four companies — Cogeco Cable, MTS AllstreamSaskTel and Shaw Communications — that have opted not to charge for paper fees, saying “Canadians should keep this in mind when they select service providers.”

According to a study released this week by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Canadians pay over $500 million a year in paper billing fees.

The advocacy group says low-income Canadians and seniors shoulder the heaviest burden, as they are less likely to have access to the internet. An estimated 15 per cent of Canadians do not have internet access at home. 

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