Telecom Order CRTC 2017-25
Ottawa, 26 January 2017
File numbers: 8657-C12-201505505 and 4754-519
Determination of costs award with respect to the participation of CNIB in the proceeding leading to Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-102
- By letter dated 27 May 2016, CNIB applied for costs with respect to its participation in the proceeding leading to Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-102 (the proceeding). In the proceeding, the Commission reviewed the structure and mandate of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc. (CCTS). CNIB requested that the Commission consider the late application and submitted that scarcity of resources and accessibility challenges resulted in the late filing.
- The Commission did not receive any interventions in response to the application for costs.
- CNIB submitted that it had met the criteria for an award of costs set out in section 68 of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure (the Rules of Procedure) because it represented a group or class of subscribers that had an interest in the outcome of the proceeding, it had assisted the Commission in developing a better understanding of the matters that were considered, and it had participated in a responsible way.
- In particular, CNIB indicated that its submissions provided the Commission with the perspective of the experience of Canadians living with vision loss and their interactions with telecommunications companies. CNIB also submitted that it engaged widely with its respective stakeholders. Furthermore, CNIB submitted that its participation was carried out in a responsible manner through costs management.
- CNIB requested that the Commission fix its costs at $5,541.25, consisting of $4,112.50 for analyst fees and $1,428.75 for disbursements. CNIB’s claim included the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Ontario Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). CNIB filed a bill of costs with its application.
- CNIB submitted that the CCTS is the appropriate party to be required to pay any costs awarded by the Commission (the costs respondent) because, in the applicant’s view, given that CCTS membership now includes all telecommunications companies, this would be an equitable manner by which to distribute the costs fairly among them all. In addition, CNIB submitted that the application for costs was also being submitted to the Broadcasting Participation Fund.
- Commission staff sent a letter, dated 20 June 2016, in which it requested additional information from CNIB regarding the application for costs. Specifically, Commission staff requested information regarding how the applicant met the eligibility criteria for an award of costs according to Telecom Information Bulletin 2016-188,Footnote 1 the division of costs between broadcasting and telecommunications issues, and further explanation as to how the applicant contributed to a better understanding of the matters that were considered in the proceeding.
- The applicant responded to the request for information in a letter dated 30 June 2016.
- With respect to the request for information regarding the group or class of subscribers it purports to represent, CNIB submitted that it represents Canadians living with vision loss. CNIB explained that as Canada’s primary provider of vision rehabilitation services, it works with clients of all ages in 56 offices across Canada, in almost every community, amounting to 19,453 individuals since 2012.With respect to the specific methods by which CNIB represents this group or class of subscribers, CNIB explained that through conversations during the provision of services to clients, it learns first-hand the experiences of and the barriers faced by Canadians living with vision loss on a daily basis.
- In particular, CNIB submitted that as a service provider to Canadians living with vision loss, it provided a unique first-hand perspective on the challenges faced by its clients. CNIB also submitted that its clear articulation of the issues and challenges facing Canadians living with vision loss helped the Commission understand the perspective of these Canadians and the barriers they face.
- Commission staff requested clarification on the division of costs between broadcasting and telecommunications issues, since the Commission may only award costs related to telecommunications matters under the Telecommunications Act (the Act). In response, CNIB requested that the costs application be split equally between broadcasting and telecommunications issues. CNIB claimed that anything other than a 50% allocation to telecommunications issues would require an inordinate amount of effort to determine.
- As a result of this clarification, CNIB’s costs claim relating to telecommunications matters is $2,735.23, which is 50% of the costs claimed originally, less the rebate to which CNIB is entitled in connection with the GST and HST. This amount consists of $2,056.25 for analyst fees and $678.98 for disbursements.
Commission’s analysis and determinations
- The Commission considers that CNIB’s late filing did not prejudice any party and notes that no parties filed an answer to the application. In the circumstances, it is appropriate to consider the costs application.
- The criteria for an award of costs are set out in section 68 of the Rules of Procedure, which reads as follows:
68. The Commission must determine whether to award final costs and the maximum percentage of costs that is to be awarded on the basis of the following criteria:
(a) whether the applicant had, or was the representative of a group or a class of subscribers that had, an interest in the outcome of the proceeding;
(b) the extent to which the applicant assisted the Commission in developing a better understanding of the matters that were considered; and
(c) whether the applicant participated in the proceeding in a responsible way.
- In Telecom Information Bulletin 2016-188, the Commission provided guidance regarding how an applicant may demonstrate that it satisfies the first criterion with respect to its representation of interested subscribers. In the present case, CNIB provided submissions consistent with the Commission’s guidance in Telecom Information Bulletin 2016-188 regarding the identification of the group or class of subscribers an applicant purports to represent, and the methods by which the applicant represents that group or class.
- CNIB clearly and specifically identified the group of subscribers that it represents as Canadians living with vision loss across the country, and its clients in particular. CNIB did so by providing the number of individuals who make up the group in the form of the number of clients it served, as well as the number of hours of service it provided to this group, from 2012 to 2015.
- CNIB also identified the methods by which it determined that the positions it put forward reflect the interests of the group it represents. As a provider of rehabilitation and community-based services to thousands of Canadians across the country, CNIB has gathered first-hand knowledge of the perspectives of Canadians living with vision loss and the issues they face. Specifically, CNIB submitted that it determined the positions it put forward based on conversations with its clients, who represent a significant number of Canadians living with vision loss.
- CNIB also satisfied the remaining criteria through its participation in the proceeding. CNIB’s submissions assisted the Commission in developing a better understanding of the matters that were considered and how they affect Canadians living with vision loss. In particular, CNIB’s submissions regarding the accessibility of the CCTS website assisted the Commission in understanding the improvements required to make the CCTS website accessible to consumers living with vision loss. CNIB participated in the proceeding in a responsible manner through costs management and the presentation of a high-level perspective of Canadians living with vision loss, as it pertains to telecommunications services.
- The rates claimed in respect of analyst fees and disbursements are in accordance with the rates established in the Commission’s Guidelines for the Assessment of Costs, as set out in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2010-963. The Commission finds that the amount claimed by CNIB in relation to telecommunications matters was necessarily and reasonably incurred and should be allowed.
- This is an appropriate case in which to fix the costs and dispense with taxation, in accordance with the streamlined procedure set out in Telecom Public Notice 2002-5.
- The Commission has generally determined that the appropriate costs respondents to an award of costs are the parties that have a significant interest in the outcome of the proceeding in question and have participated actively in that proceeding. The Commission considers that the following parties had a significant interest in the outcome of the proceeding and participated actively in the proceeding: Bell Canada; Bragg Communications Incorporated, operating as Eastlink; the Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc.; Cogeco Cable Inc.; MTS Inc., on behalf of itself and Allstream Inc.; Quebecor Media Inc., on behalf of Videotron G.P.; Rogers Communications Canada Inc. (RCCI);Footnote 2 Saskatchewan Telecommunications; Shaw Communications Inc.; TBayTel; TekSavvy Solutions Inc.; TELUS Communications Company (TCC); and Velocity Networks Inc.
- The Commission considers that, consistent with its practice, it is appropriate to allocate the responsibility for payment of costs among costs respondents based on their telecommunications operating revenues (TORs)Footnote 3 as an indicator of the relative size and interest of the parties involved in the proceeding.Footnote 4
- However, as set out in Telecom Order 2015-160, the Commission considers $1,000 to be the minimum amount that a costs respondent should be required to pay due to the administrative burden that small costs awards impose on both the applicant and costs respondents.
- Accordingly, the Commission finds that the responsibility for payment of costs should be allocated as follows:
Company Percentage Amount TCC 52% $1,422.32 RCCI 48% $1,312.91
Directions regarding costs
- The Commission approves the application by CNIB for costs with respect to its participation in the proceeding.
- Pursuant to subsection 56(1) of the Act, the Commission fixes the costs to be paid to CNIB at $2,735.23.
- The Commission directs that the award of costs to CNIB be paid forthwith by TCC and RCCI according to the proportions set out in paragraph 24.
- Review of the structure and mandate of the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc.,Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-102, 17 March 2016
- Guidance for costs award applicants regarding representation of a group or a class of subscribers, Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2016-188, 17 May 2016
- Determination of costs award with respect to the participation of the Ontario Video Relay Service Committee in the proceeding initiated by Telecom Notice of Consultation 2014-188, Telecom Order CRTC 2015-160, 23 April 2015
- Revision of CRTC costs award practices and procedures, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-963, 23 December 2010
- New procedure for Telecom costs awards, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2002-5, 7 November 2002
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