The CRTC has initiated a public proceeding to show cause why certain telecommunications service providers should not have their telecommunications services disconnected, in light of their failure to become members of the agency responsible for handling subscriber complaints.

The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc. (CCTS) is an independent consumer agency tasked with resolving complaints from consumers and small businesses relating to retail telecommunications services for which the CRTC no longer requires a tariff. 

The CRTC requires that a TSP that provides services within the scope of the CCTS’s mandate must become a member of the agency (a participating service provider), commencing with the receipt by the CCTS of an in-scope complaint about that TSP.  Once a TSP is notified by the CCTS of such a complaint, the TSP has five days to join the agency.  Participating service providers must pay fees to support the work of the CCTS.  The fees are based on a funding formula that takes into account each TSP’s proportional share of Canadian telecommunications revenues, as well as the number of complaints that it generates.

In its Notice of Consultation, the CRTC indicated that the telecommunications service providers (TSPs) that are the subject of the show cause proceeding were repeatedly contacted by both the CCTS and the Commission to remind them of their obligation to join the CCTS; however, none of the six companies has apparently responded to such notifications or otherwise come into compliance.  Interestingly, the CCTS’s own website indicates that it referred 9 companies to the CRTC for enforcement action, leaving one to speculate whether the other 3 did eventually respond to CRTC inquiries.

In addition to ordering the disconnection of any telecommunications services that the respondent TSPs might receive from other carriers of service providers, the Commission may also issue a mandatory order against the TSPs in question, requiring them to comply with their obligations under the Telecommunications Act.  Such an order may be registered with the Federal Court, where it may be enforced as if it were the Court’s own order.