Feds table legislation giving CRTC power to fine firms, individuals

The Telecommunications Act amendment would give the CRTC the power to impose an Administration Monetary Penalty (AMPs) on a firm for a maximum of $10 million for the first offence and $15 million for each subsequent offence. Individuals can be fined up to $25,000 for a first offence and $50,000 for a subsequent offence.“It’s trying to make the CRTC a more efficient and effective regulator, enabling it to move more quickly,” said Malcolm Andrew, senior policy advisor, telecommunications policy branch, Industry Canada.
Currently individuals and companies who have disobeyed the Act or CRTC decisions are only punishable through a criminal proceeding in the courts. Under Section 73 of The Telecommunications Act, a person can be fined a maximum of $50,000 for a first offense and $1 million for a subsequent offence; a corporation can be fined up to $500,000 for a first offense and up to $1 million for a subsequent offense.
Both Telus and Primus Canada pushed for stiffer fines in their submissions to the Telecom Policy Review panel. (For more information, please see the feature on telecom regulation, page 14). The carriers agree that something needs to be done when it comes to giving the commission more freedom to flex its regulatory muscle.
“For the market to work all players have to play by the rules and abide by the rules,” said Ted Chislett, president of Primus Canada. “Giving some teeth to the CRTC and the ability to fine acts as a check and balance to ensure that people do that and there are consequences if they don’t.”
Similarly, Ian Scott, Telus Corp.’s vice-president of federal government relations and broadband policy, said the implementation of AMPs will ensure all of the market players follow the rules.
Technologies such as voice over IP are letting new entrants, such as cable companies, enter a market dominated by incumbent carriers. The latest CRTC numbers, which were released at the end of last month, show that the incumbents (Bell, Telus) continue to hold 97 per cent of the residential market share.

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