The federal government’s decision to pave the way for the multinational giant Verizon to enter Canada’s telecommunications market will cost thousands of jobs and will not benefit consumers in the long run, says Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
“Verizon’s entry into Canada will result over time in the shifting of thousands of Canadian telecommunication jobs to the United States,” Georgetti says. “Verizon is a $115 billion company, more than three times larger than the entire Canadian telecommunication industry. The Canadian market will be merely an appendage to Verizon’s American operations. Research and innovation, network maintenance, customer service and all head office functions will be performed in the U.S.”
In September, Industry Canada will start a bidding process for 700 MHz of spectrum, which telecommunications companies use to provide and improve cell phone and other services.
Verizon has been given an advantage to acquire licenses in Canada by purchasing new spectrum that major Canadian companies cannot bid on. In addition, new rules will require the Canadian companies to give Verizon access to their cellular towers and network infrastructure. Verizon will also be able to purchase Canadian telecommunication companies while existing major companies are prohibited from acquiring these companies. The government’s stated aim is to enhance competition, improve service and drive down prices.
“All of this may sound fine,” says Georgetti, “but the government is stacking the deck in favour of Verizon and it is Canadian workers, Canadian-based companies and eventually Canadian consumers who will suffer.”
Georgetti says, “Verizon’s unfair entry into Canada will not increase competition in the long term. It will force the consolidation of Canadian companies to compete with Verizon’s massive resources. Nor is there any evidence that Verizon will give Canadian consumers a better deal. Verizon is not a discount carrier and American wireless costs are as high and higher than in Canada.”
Georgetti says that there is a need to protect wireless consumers and the public interest but he adds that the government has the power to do that by regulating pricing and contract rules.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.
Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca