Industry Canada

Industry Canada

December 18, 2006 13:35 ET

Canada's New Government Issues Policy Direction to CRTC that Calls for Greater Reliance on Market Forces

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 18, 2006) - The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry, today announced the issuing of the first ever policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under the Telecommunications Act. The Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives (the Policy Direction) was put out for public comment and laid before Parliament by the Minister in June 2006, and is now in force.

"Canada's New Government has again furthered its ambitious policy agenda for the telecommunications sector by issuing the Policy Direction to the CRTC," said Minister Bernier. "Our plan will increase competition in the marketplace, which ultimately will have a positive effect on the consumer who will benefit from greater choices and improved products and services."

The Policy Direction requires that the CRTC now take a more market-based approach to implementing the Telecommunications Act (the Act). A policy direction is a tool available to the government through the Act to provide policy guidance to the CRTC on how it should exercise its regulatory mandate. In this instance, the Policy Direction applies prospectively to the wide variety of telecommunications-related regulatory issues that the CRTC handles, including matters currently pending before the Commission, subject to the limitations specified in section 11 of the Act.

"By issuing the Policy Direction, we have taken a significant step forward in making Canada's telecommunications regulatory system more modern, flexible and efficient," added Minister Bernier. "We want to ensure that Canada's telecommunications industry is internationally competitive and successful and is shaped to best support our ever-evolving and rapidly changing telecommunications needs."

Backgrounder

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry, announced the proposed Policy Direction at the Canadian Telecom Summit in June 2006. It was pre-published for public comment in Part I of the Canada Gazette on June 17, 2006, which was followed by a 60-day consultation period. In addition, on October 19, 2006, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU Committee) met with stakeholders to discuss the proposed text of the Policy Direction. The INDU Committee recommended a waiting period but given that extensive consultations have been done, the government felt it was important to provide the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) with direction for its future proceedings and for matters currently before the CRTC to which the Direction applies, consistent with section 11 of the Telecommunications Act.

Consistent with the statutory requirements for issuing an order under section 8 of the Act, 40 sitting days were provided for parliamentary review. The 40-sitting-day period expired on November 3, 2006. All other statutory requirements have been fulfilled, including consultation with the public, with the provinces and territories, and with the CRTC.

The INDU Committee consulted with interested parties and the information provided to the Committee was consistent with submissions received through the Canada Gazette public consultation process. The majority of comments received were supportive of the broad policy objectives of reliance on market forces.

The Policy Direction in its final form has been changed to address concerns raised in the public consultation process.

In March 2006, the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel publicly released its final report, which contained 127 recommendations aimed at improving Canada's telecommunications policy and regulatory framework and ensuring that Canada has a strong, internationally competitive telecommunications industry. The Policy Direction responds in part to the recommendations by the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel, which called on the government to issue such a direction to the CRTC as soon as possible.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Maxime Bernier
    Minister of Industry
    Isabelle Fontaine
    613-995-9001
    or
    Industry Canada
    Media Relations
    613-943-2502