There is not much left in the bodily wallet after Bell takes a monthly arm and a leg for cell-phone service and the Internet bundle—landline, cable, streaming services and Wi-Fi—with the high prices difficult to explain except for the fact the pending Rogers-Shaw merger likely won’t help.

Less competition is rarely a good thing.

Loyalty programs do little. When I was recently offered a deal by Rogers over Bell that would allegedly save me $100 a month—it sounded like a telephone scam so I didn’t bite—my “so-called loyalty to Bell” was rewarded, upon asking, with a fiddled saving of about $50.

But I had to ask. No one sought me out.

If I hadn’t called Bell, the $50 rip-off would have continued unabated.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has a new leader, Vicky Eatrides, who comes to the role with over a decade of experience working at the Competition Bureau of Canada. She has also spent time at Industry Canada and practiced as a lawyer in the private sector.

Her five-year appointment as chair of the CRTC was generally seen as being positive.

The CRTC is facing calls to do more on some of its traditional files—namely fostering competition to drive down cell phone and Internet prices—but is also on the edge of being pulled into new regulatory waters.

With Parliament reviewing Bills C-11 on online streaming and C-18 to compensate journalism publications, and the possibility of the government introducing online harms legislation later this year, the organization could find itself pushed beyond its more traditional focus on radio and television broadcasters and into regulating online platforms and content.

Eatrides is well aware of what lies ahead.

“I can tell you that work is happening behind the scenes to make sure that we’re ready to go, if and when we get new responsibilities,”  Eatrides told the Hill Times, a weekly newspaper in the Parliament Hill precinct.

She said in the meantime she is focused on “making sure we have the right resources (and) the right tools in place,” but did not provide specifics on how the organization would seek to grow its capacity and expertise.

A new responsibility may come from Bill C-11, which could require the CRTC to play a role in the discoverability of Canadian content online.

The CRTC has traditionally played a role in enforcing regulations mandating that Canadian content receive airtime on radio and television in Canada.

But many Canadian YouTube creators have said, under C-11, if the platform is required to show their content to more viewers in Canada, this could decrease their global views and revenue streams because of the ways its algorithms work.

Eatrides said that when it comes to issues of Canadian content, culture is “part of our DNA” at the CRTC, because of its longstanding mandate in this area.

“Culture is integral to our mandate and what we do. It’s not an add-on,” said Eatrides. “The CRTC has been regulating in this space for over 50 years,” meaning there is “a deep understanding of these issues” and “a lot of passion.”

It is not the first time, however, that the high cost of cell phone service and the Internet has been top of mind to most Canadians, who have been waiting patiently for the CTRC to do something about it.

Perhaps it will take Vicky Eatrides to accomplish this.

One can only hope.


  • Mark Bonokoski

    Mark Bonokoski is a member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame and has been published by a number of outlets – including the Toronto Sun, Maclean’s and Readers’ Digest.