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Ontario proposes new legislation to protect wireless users

The Ontario government is introducing legislation aimed at protecting cellphone and wireless users.

“I’m pleased to say we’re taking a very aggressive stand,” Minister of Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles said during a news conference on Thursday. “Our proposed legislation, if passed, would have a strong enforcement component and remedy for consumers when their rights are violated.”

She said the proposed bill would benefit more than 80 per cent of Ontarians who use wireless devices in the following way:

• Requiring contracts to be written in plain language
• Ensuring contracts clearly outline which services come with the basic fee and which would result in a higher bill
• Requiring service providers to get consent from the consumer before amending, renewing or extending a fixed-term contract
• Enforcing a cap on the cost of cancelling a contract or having no fee at all, making it less expensive for consumers to walk away from fixed-term contracts

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, whose members include service providers, said it was surprised by the government’s announcement because the province knows the industry group has been working with the federal telecom regulator to produce similar measures.

“We would really encourage the Ontario government to wait for the national code,” spokesman Marc Choma told CityNews.ca.

Choma, who said Ontario first introduced the proposed bill before the House was prorogued in October, said it’s simpler if there’s only one legislation in place.

There was no immediate word on when a national law would be enacted.

“I can’t speak for the [Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission]. But we’ve been saying sooner rather than later,” Choma said.

Wireless service provider Rogers said in a statement it will review the proposed bill and monitor its progress.

The Toronto-based company added that it has already made “some significant changes and enhancements” to its services and policies.

Rogers is the parent company of CityNews.

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