ARCHIVED -  Transcript - Timmins, ON - 1998/06/08

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Service téléphonique dans les zones de desserte à coût élevé/

Service to High-Cost Serving Areas


Examen des politiques relatives à la télévision canadienne/

Review of the Commission's Policies for Canadian Television



Collège Northern d'Arts Appliqués et de Technologie

Campus de Porcupine

Salle de théâtre D-116

Timmins (Ontario)

Le 8 juin 1998



Northern College of Applied Arts & Technology

Porcupine Campus

Lecture Room D-116

Timmins, Ontario

8 June 1998

Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des

télécommunications canadiennes

Canadian Radio-television and

Telecommunications Commission



Transcription / Transcript




Consultation régionale/

regional consultation







Andrée Wylie Présidente/Chairperson

Andre Cardoza Conseillère/Commissioner

Paul Godin Gérante d'audience/

Hearing Manager

Karen Moore Conseillère juridique/

Legal Counsel

Denise Groulx Secrétaire/Secretary






Collège Northern d'Arts Northern College of

Appliqués et de Applied Arts & Technology


Campus de Porcupine Porcupine Campus

Salle de théâtre D-116 Lecture Room D-116

Timmins (Ontario) Timmins, Ontario



Le lundi 8 juin 1998 Monday, June 8, 1998



Présentation au nom de/Presentation on behalf of:

¨ Réginald Bélair, Northern Ontario Federal 8

Liberal Caucus

¨ Gary Vasey 24

¨ John Hoogenhoud, North Adventure in 33

Snowmobile Resort

¨ Victor Power, May of Timmins 37

¨ David Ramsay, M.P.P. Timiskaming 54

¨ Gary Struthers, Timiskaming Federation of 65

Agriculture/Cochrane Federation of


¨ Rheal Cousineau, Reeve, Township of Glackmeyr 76

¨ Doug Orth, Chairperson, Timiskaming-Cochrane 92

Telecommunications Infrastructure

Improvement Committee

¨ Charles Gervais 108

¨ Maureen Cubberly, President, Canada's 115

Coalition for Public Information

¨ Dorothy Wilcox, Residents of Galway,

Cavendish and Harvey Township 134

¨ Douglas Maddock, Bancroft and Area 139

Communication Task Force

¨ Vicki Whitmell, Canadian Library Association 153

¨ Michael Jennings & Dr. Harris Low 161

¨ Etienne Saumure, Municipalité du Lac Lytton 177

¨ Arnold Tindall, Northern Ontario Library 189

Services North

¨ Claude Beaudin 194

¨ Beverley Carr-Lawton, Manager, Re/Max 210

Northland Realty

¨ Keith Mitchell, Timmins Chamber of Commerce/ 217

City of Timmins/Timmins Economic

Development Corporation/Timmins &

District Hospital/Northern College/

District School Board Ontario Northeast

¨ Rosemary Pochopsky, Vice-Chair, District

School Board Ontario Northeast/NEONet 225

¨ Walter Gray, Northern College 230

¨ Laurier Bourgeois, Highway 11 Corridor 251

Municipal Coalition

¨ Dr. Rick Denton, Mayor, Kirkland Lake 262

¨ Jim Grayston, Northern Ontario Tourist 270


¨ Marcel Bélair, President, Association of 279

Star Lake/Star Lake & Area

Telephone Committee

¨ Arleen Reinsborough 284

¨ Andy Butler 298



Présentation au nom de/Presentation on behalf of:

¨ Cathy Peever 316

¨ Gilles Forget, Cochrane-Timiskaming 320

Infrastructure Improvement Committee/

Highway 11 Corridor Municipal Coalition/

Councillor for the Town of Iroquois Falls

¨ Daryll Smith 325

¨ Randy Howard 335

¨ Bill Pedskalny 340

¨ Steve Peever 345

¨ Denise Marshall 350

¨ Ken Graham, Mayor, Iroquois Falls 353

¨ Larry Sanders, Wawatay Native Communications 357


¨ Louis Decaire 380

¨ Paul Lantz & Emily Linklater 383

¨ Jean-Marie Blier, Maire de la Ville de Hearst 393

¨ Victor Lacroix, membre de la Chambre de 407

commerce de Hearst-Mattice-Val Côté

¨ Terry Fiset, Reeve, Township of James 410

¨ Henri Fillion 422

¨ Don Wright, Ingram Township 426

¨ Armand Robert, Member of the Ivanhoe Lake 430

Cottages Association

¨ Gerald Bertrand 444


Réplique au nom de/Reply on behalf of:

¨ Northern Telephone 447

¨ Bell Canada 451

¨ O.N. Tel 461

Timmins, Ontario

--- Upon commencing on Tuesday, June 8, 1998

at 0903/L'audience débute le mardi

8 juin 1998 à 0903

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, ladies and gentlemen. À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.

Good morning, and welcome to this regional consultation on an issue which is fundamental in telecommunications today.

Bonjour et bienvenue à tout le monde. My name is Andrée Wylie, and I will chair today's session. Seated next to me is Commissioner Andrew Cardozo. Also in attendance are Commission staff, our Hearing Manager Paul Godin to my immediate left. To his left our Legal counsel, Karen Moore; and to her left our Secretary, Denise Groulx.

Avant de commencer, je voudrais vous dire que nous sommes heureux d'être ici à Timmins et d'avoir l'occasion d'entendre vos points de vue sur des questions relatives à la fourniture d'un service téléphonique de haute qualité dans les ondes de dessertes à coût élevé.

Je tiens également à souhaiter la bienvenue à tous ceux qui participeront aujourd'hui par liaison audio-vidéo, soit Haileybury, Kapuskasing, Kirkland Lake, Ottawa, Toronto, Moosonee, Temagami et Hearst.

Nous en profitons pour remercier les compagnies de téléphone Bell Canada, Northern Telephone et Ontario Telephone de nous avoir assurer ces liaisons qui permettront une plus grande participation.

As you know, this public consultation is part of a larger CRTC process. Canadian telephone policy has as one of its objectives the provision of reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural regions in Canada.

We are here today to explore how, in the face of changes in the telecommunications environment, we can assure that we achieve this policy.

Some of the issues that we hope to hear your views on include the following:

What should be the obligations of the telephone companies or their competitors with respect to providing telephone service in high-cost areas?

If subsidies are required for high-cost serving areas, what services should be eligible for such subsidies, and how should any subsidy be funded?

What types of technology are acceptable for high-cost or remote areas? For example, is wireless or satellite technology acceptable?

We may wish to ask a few questions of clarification after some presentations, time permitting. However, I want to stress that our main interest is to hear what you have to say on the issues we are exploring, in a process that we want to keep as informal as possible.

Nous entendons souvent les témoignages de groupes qui connaissent à fond les questions de télécommunications et les procédures du Conseil, mais nous tenons également à savoir ce que d'autres de les Canadiens eux-mêmes pensent de ces questions.

At this point I would ask our legal counsel, Karen Moore, to address the particulars of the process we will be following today.

MS MOORE: Thank you.

Those persons who have indicated a wish to make an oral submission at this hearing by registering in advance with one of the Commission's offices will be called by the secretary. She will be calling names three at a time. We would ask the first person to sit at the table with the microphone, and if the other two people could sit to the left in the front row just to facilitate the process.

If there are other people present today who wish to make an oral submission, but who have not already registered, please speak to the secretary. Time permitting, we will try to fit you into the schedule.

S'il y a d'autres personnes présentes aujourd'hui qui voudraient prendre la parole mais qui ne sont pas encore inscrites, veuillez vous adresser à la secrétaire. Si le temps le permet, nous tenterons de vous glisser dans l'horaire.

Any participant not in attendance when the secretary calls his or her name will be called on again later.

In the interests of ensuring that as many oral submissions as possible can be heard, we would ask that you would please try to speak for an approximate length of 10 minutes.

To make your presentation, as I said earlier, please come down to the table and please state your name for the record. To ensure that the recording and transcription people will be able to produce an accurate transcript, when speaking please ensure that your microphone is turned on and, similarly, when you are finished speaking please turn it off, otherwise we get feedback.

Pour présenter votre exposé, quand la secrétaire vous appellera, veuillez vous présenter à la table au devant de la salle, afin que les personnes chargées de l'enregistrement et de la transcription puissent produire un compte-rendu exact.

Quand vous parlerez, assurez-vous que votre microphone est ouvert. De même, une fois que vous avez fini de parler, veuillez le fermer. Autrement, nous entendrons du bruit.

For those of you who are participating remotely through a video-link, please follow the instructions of the telephone company representative in your location.

The oral submissions heard today will be transcribed and will form part of the record of the proceeding. Anyone wishing to purchase a copy of the transcript should make the necessary arrangements with the official reporter who is seated at the table.

In addition to your oral submissions at this consultation, I would like to remind everyone that written comments on the issues that are being considered here may be submitted to the Commission at any time before January 30th, 1999. Like the transcript, those comments will also form part of the record of the proceeding.

After everyone has finished with their presentations, the telephone company representatives who are here today will be given 15 minutes to respond to any comments raised in the course of this morning's session regarding high cost issues.

The telephone companies can also address any comments raised at this consultation in the course of their written arguments, which are to be filed by January 30th, 1999.


We appear to have a full day and evening before us. We will take a morning and afternoon break whenever it seems sensible, and we will probably break for lunch at approximately 12:30 -- again depending on how things are proceeding -- and resume at 1:30, break for dinner around 5:00, and definitely resume at 6:30 because that is what the public notice indicated as the time for the evening session. But I suspect we will go right through the day.

Before I turn to the secretary to call our first presenter, let me ask if there are any preliminary matters.

I would also like to ask the representatives of the telephone companies present to introduce themselves at this time. You may wish to use the secretary's mike to do that, if that is okay with you.

MS MARCELLA: Good morning. I'm Laurie Marcella with O.N. Tel.


MR. HARRITON: Good morning. I'm George Harriton with Bell Canada. I have four other people from Bell Canada with me, Kim McCairn, Angela Brigginshaw, Judi Bodnar and Caren Naismith.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you mind standing up, please, so people can identify you?

Thank you very much.

MR. DELISLE: Good morning. I'm Dan Delisle from Northern Telephone. I have four people with me this morning, Molly Slywchuk our Manager, Regulatory Affairs. Molly, if you want to stand up.

Denis McCarthy, our Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs and Strategic Development. Our legal counsel, Kirsten Embree.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.

Thank you very much. Merci.

À présent, je demanderais à la secrétaire de bien vouloir appeler le... pardon?

MR. CALDWELL: Good morning. I am Tom Caldwell with O.N. Tel, and also we have Steve Murray with O.N. Tel here, and Steve Kidd up at the back of the room from O.N. Tel.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.

Merci. À présent, je demanderais à la secrétaire de bien vouloir appeler le premier participant de la journée.


On demande à M. Réginald Bélair, M. Claude Vezina, M. Gary Vasey.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Bélair.

M. BÉLAIR: Bonjour.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Allez-y dès que vous serez prêt.



M. BÉLAIR: Merci.

Commissioners, support staff, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, the following submission made on behalf of the members of the Northern Ontario Federal Liberal Caucus representing the 11 federal constituencies and pursuant to Telecom Public Notice CRTC 97-42, telephone services to high-cost serving areas.

Members of the Northern Ontario Caucus will attempt to outline on behalf of their constituents the problems arising from inefficient telecommunications services in some areas, the need for higher quality of service and the possible funding solutions should competition downsize cross-subsidies.

The geographical area of the 11 federal constituencies covers half of the Province of Ontario, extending north along the James Bay coast, west along the Manitoba border and Lake Superior, east along the Quebec border, and south to the Muskoka region.

Northern Ontario typically represents what is considered to be a high-cost servicing area. Some rural communities are provided with urban grade services, such as individual lines and digital switching, but exhibit higher costs because of low population than city, and their distance from larger centres.

The City of Timmins would be an example of this. Many other remote communities, most with a population base of less than 500 are under-served with a two-to-four party line service using the old analog technology.

The last category of service areas, and by far the most significant, are very remote areas which are not serviced at all. Examples would be cottages, outfitters and new subdivisions, as in the case of Marlett Bay(ph), a 50-household hamlet in Algoma, Manitoulin, which has never had any telephone service at all.

Section 7 of the Telecommunications Act has outlined clearly what objectives the CRTC, and consequently the telephone companies, should adhere to if telecommunications standards are to be met in Canada.

Three: Particular objectives are necessarily significant to Northern Ontario. Section 7(b):

"to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;"

Section 7(h):

"to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services;"

Section 7(i):

"to contribute to the protection of the privacy of persons."

The Commission has offered a clear direction to telephone carriers, but this direction, unfortunately, has taken another route.

The Northern Ontario Caucus understands that it is sometimes challenging, financially or otherwise, to achieve these objectives in sparsely populated and remote areas given the high costs for servicing and service upgrades. Nevertheless, the time has come to seriously evaluate the services offered in Northern Ontario.

The bottom line is that all communities in all parts of the North must have access to basic services. There is no excuse these days for archaic technology and primitive services.

In keeping with the Commission's objectives of affordable rates and quality service in all parts of Canada, the carriers, the CRTC and the different levels of government should also be aware that rural economic development, business opportunities, education and health care in Northern Ontario depend on efficient and up-to-date telecommunications services.

While Northern Ontario is still traditionally dependent on the resource section, that is forestry, mining and tourism, constituents are now expanding into a variety of occupations which rely heavily on telecommunication links to suppliers, customers and government agencies.

Diversification into small businesses and home-based industries will dramatically improve the economic development in the North. However, economic opportunity could be stifled if the telecommunications system is not adequate to operate fax machines and modems. Investors would certainly not be enticed to come up North.

A key factor to the improvement of the North's economy is educational and training opportunities. While the North boasts excellent colleges and universities in such cities as Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins, individuals young and old in remote areas must travel great distances to take advantage of educational programs. Improved telecommunications -- I have a problem with this word -- improved telecommunications --

THE CHAIRPERSON: You know what we do? We say "telecom".

MR. BÉLAIR: Oh, okay. Good suggestion. Thank you.

So improved telecom would enable students to follow courses through video-conferencing and on the internet. Professionals and tradespersons would be able to upgrade their skills without leaving their jobs. The youth in native communities would not have to leave their families in order to pursue their studies. All this would be less of a burden on the students and the institutions and the government in view of the high costs of education and transportation.

Improved telecom services would also benefit health care in the North. Specialized health care facilities are scarce in rural and remote areas in addition to the shortage in health care providers and up-to-date health information. Tele-medicine would shorten the distances between hospitals and patients and, inevitably, save lives.

Given the potential and lucrative market offered by improved telecom in the North, tele-education, tele-medicine, business and marketing, the service carriers, existing and future competitors -- and this is very important, and future competitors -- and the governments must realize that serious investments and funding would be beneficial to all parties involved. The Northern Ontario market is close to one million customers with a per capita demand probably far higher than in urban centres.

Only with services like single-party access to everyone, digital switching, affordable long distance service, 9-1-1 emergency service, expanded cellular service, custom calling service, expanded local calling areas would be the objectives set out in section 7 of the Act to be met.

With these services in place access to the information highway would be possible, and thus contribute to the economical, social and cultural prosperity of Northern Ontario.

In 1995 the CRTC's report, Competition in Culture on Canada's Information Highway: Managing the Realities of Tradition, outlined the need for outside support for this system since market forces could not be counted on to ensure that the information highway would be available to all regions in Canada. Enter the federal government's response in 1997 with building the information society moving Canada into the 21st century.

This report states that if market forces cannot provide the service, then some mechanism, regulatory, financial or otherwise, would have to be identified to provide this service to people living in rural and remote areas. These reports offered no solutions.

Back to square one. One has to render quality basic service with improved technology before envisioning connecting Canada to the information highway. The federal government is doing its share with the implementation of the Community Access Program in communities in the North. The CRTC has introduced local and interchange competition. Nevertheless, let us not put the cart before the horse.

Northern Ontario has been serviced, and thus enslaved, by the monopoly of single service providers of local and interexchange telephone services in all regions. While local basic rates have been lower in Northern Ontario, long distance rates have been much higher than urban centres. For example, $0.38 a minute basic long distance rate compared to $0.10 and $0.15 in larger centres.

Many multi-line or under-served customers have become more and more frustrated with the lack of quality service. Business or employment opportunities have been missed because a neighbour has kept the line busy. Life threatening situations have occurred because a party-line customer in distress could not get through to a hospital, let alone 9-1-1.

A disabled individual equipped with a computer could not pursue long distance education because a party-line system does not accommodate an internet hook-up. A laid-off lumber employee, having recently invested in a fishing lodge, has been informed that his local telephone company has no intention of serving the area.

Does this not indicate double standard? Customers in remote and rural areas should not be treated as second-class citizens. In this age of advanced technology there is no excuse for service carriers in the North to still use primitive technology with infrastructure that was state-of-the-art some 40 years ago.

The question is: Who will pay for this much needed upgrade, and what kind of mechanisms should be put in place?

Everyone wants affordable high quality service, the governments, the service carriers and the customer, but no one wants to pay for it.

Cross-subsidization is now being threatened with the advent of competitive long distance carriers. Some long distance carriers are already providing service to larger centres in Northern Ontario. Sprint is doing a market study survey in Timmins. Cable companies in the North could also offer competitive services given their infrastructure that is already in place.

For many years a regulated monopoly could manipulate basic local service with long distance rates well above costs to allow a steady subsidy for local services.

Now the incumbent monopolies are feeling pressure from two directions. First, the lucrative long distance business is under attack from competitors, while the costly local business is left to the incumbents.

The Northern Ontario Caucus would like to suggest possible solutions to this dilemma of continued subsidization of remote and rural areas:

(a) a partnership between the different levels of government, federal, provincial and the service carriers, incumbent and future, which would be something similar to the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Works program. The United States is in the process of implementing a universal service fund, as outlined by Jim Preiger(ph), A Universal Service and the Telecom Act of 1996, After the Fact, Telecom Policy Volume No. 22.

It states, and I quote:

"The federal subsidy for a high-cost carrier offering the supported services will be 25 per cent of the difference between the cost of efficient provision and a national rate bench mark. The States are expected to cover the remaining 75 per cent of the difference with their own universal service programs." (As read)

Therefore, each stakeholder would assume one-third of the costs of infrastructure and service upgrades.

A revenue tax on all incumbent and future service providers which would supplement contribution rates. This tax would be proportional to the revenues of each service carrier. Crown agencies, which have benefitted from tax-free status, would now have the opportunity to participate in this contribution. All sums from this tax system would go into a central subsidy fund, a self-imposed nominal contribution rate supplied by local area users conditional to the level of service provided.

Indeed, the Northern Ontario Caucus will seek to have the Goods & Services Tax -- the GST -- already imposed on service users, awarded specifically to this same central subsidy fund.

(e) general surplus revenues split between the federal and provincial governments.

A solution must be found since telecommunications is becoming more and more vital to economical health and the viability of remote and rural areas in Northern Ontario. While urban centres have enjoyed the opportunities of high quality service, members of the Northern Ontario Caucus feel that now it is time for the North to participate in a knowledge-based economy.

It is common knowledge that the telecom companies have made substantial profits in the past years, mostly from the increased rates in the larger urban centres in southern Ontario. Do they not have the responsibility as service providers to justify these increases by upgrading these services as soon as possible?

Will the CRTC firmly guarantee that the service providers, which have already announced a service improvement program, fulfil their commitment with the time frame allocated and allow the independent telephone companies to follow similar plans?

Will the CRTC also firmly guarantee that with the advent of competition the basic local rates will not increase?

Northern Ontario Caucus expects that all stakeholders will work together to ensure that the North benefits from adequate services, continued subsidies and more economic opportunities.

I thank you very much.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci, M. Bélair.

We appreciate the effort put into putting together such a comprehensive submission. There is only one question that I would like to ask you.

I have already been in northern communities in the western part of the country, and I would like to see if you have thought through what kind of priority you would see for the services that would be eligible for subsidies?

We hear, for example, from some regions that have no telephone service whatsoever; others who have two-party, four-party line only; and others who have single-line service but want enhanced or upgraded services that would allow them to have access to the internet, or other enhanced services that are now available.

Have you gentlemen, or gentlemen and ladies I guess, of the Caucus discussed whether you would recommend that a priority be established for the flow of subsidies, in light of the needs identified?


The first priority would be to ensure that all regions of rural -- well, Northern Ontario and, for that matter, rural Canada be serviced by the providers. Because it is nice to talk about the internet and all the high-tech gadgets that are on the market today, but if you don't have access to a private party line then, of course, it is of not much use to the customers.

Secondly, we do welcome competition, but it should be conditional also. Because, as you know, right now in Northern Ontario there are basically two -- well, I'm talking about my area, it's just about the same for the whole North -- it is small private companies that deliver the services, and they always say that, you know, the revenues are not high enough to upgrade, modernized, you know, bring in the new technology, and this is why at the end of my presentation I have proposed some solutions.

So coming back to my point, competition would be welcome, but not at any condition. Sure, right now our rates are very high in comparison to the larger urban centres at $0.38 a minute for long distance, even though our basic service is at approximately $15 across Northern Ontario in comparison to $30 in southern Ontario, which are supposed to subsidize us.

Because the public should know that three years ago the CRTC approved increases for Bell to increase their monthly rates by $2 and $3 a year in order to establish a $200 million fund which was specifically supposed to help smaller companies to adjust to the modern reality.

In our case, here in Timmins, Northern Telephone is a subsidiary of Bell and when myself and my staff contacted the company and asked those questions, "How come we are not being upgraded?" They are saying, "We are not responsible for our sub. Our sub should do it on its own." That's the answer that we were given, and this is not acceptable to us, obviously.

So, therefore, what I am saying, competition is welcome but not at any condition. Because, as you know, there is some infrastructure that is in place. Of course, there will need to be a partnership with the incoming competitors with the existing telephone companies that we have in Northern Ontario.

Therefore, our main objective on this point would be for the telephone rates to cut at least in half. Because we do realize that, let's say Sprint or AT&T, do come into Northern Ontario, they will have to pay a rental fee to the existing providers. So we do not expect to come down to $0.10 like it is everywhere else, but something that is much more acceptable than what is today at $0.38.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.

We appreciate your coming and we hope you have a good trip back to Ottawa.

MR. BÉLAIR: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, sir.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: I call upon Dr. Claude Vezina.

Gary Vasey, Haliburton County.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Vasey.



MR. VASEY: Good morning.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity of bringing our concerns about telephone service in the Haliburton Highlands.

For the benefit of anyone who doesn't know where Haliburton County is, it's in the southern part of Ontario, an easy two hour drive from the greater Toronto area. It's east of Muskoka, south of Algonquin Park, and north of the Kawartha-Peterborough area.

Haliburton is a vacation wonderland like Muskoka and the Kawarthas, with some 600 freshwater lakes and rivers. Tourism is our number one industry, followed by the forest industry.

We only have a population of 14,000 people, which is growing slowly but carefully, but increases tenfold in the peak periods of the vacation times, summer and winter.

The present trend in Haliburton is for permanent homes to be built on the lakes. The people are thinking of present retirement, or later, or moving out of the city and operating a home business conducted by telephone and electronic transfer of information.

I am a real estate broker and a developer. I am here representing myself and my company very selfishly, and I am also here representing many groups and individuals in the County of Haliburton.

I have been developing properties since 1963 on two of the largest lakes in Haliburton, Kennesis Lake and Redstone Lake. We put on registered plans of subdivision in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. We are good corporate citizens and we have been there for 35 years.

We fulfil all our commitments to the municipality, we build good municipal roads, put in hydro lines, and then they are -- or have always been served by Bell Canada.

The Hydro and the Bell work very, very closely together in Haliburton, and consideration is always given that an additional five feet is added to a pole to accommodate the Bell lines.

In 1984 I submitted a proposal for a plan on Redstone Lake to the Ministry. Four years later, in 1988, I got the draft approval of that plan in March, and in 1994, after 10 long years, the plan was registered.

In 1987, four years after the plan was originally submitted, I made inquiries as to the progress of the plan, and I received a letter in June of 1987 from Audrey Bennett, who was the planner at the time of the Plans Administration Branch for the North and Eastern Ontario, and I noted in the first paragraph of her letter her comments were:

"To date, Ontario Hydro and Bell Canada have responded and have no objections or comments."

This is normal for the Bell and Ontario Hydro.

Following the registration of the plans we proceeded to build our roads, prepared our marketing literature and placed our lots for sale.

In 1966-67 I built a 40-pole line for the hydro and installed all the hardware. In 1997, last year, I contacted Bell Canada at the Peterborough office in regards to the Bell being added to the Hydro pole line. The engineering staff at Peterborough advised me that since deregulation the new policy of Bell was not to construct any further new lines.

Given that our company had advertised in our literature that telephone service would be available, I asked of the engineering staff at Peterborough if it would be possible then for us to pay the cost of the telephone line and we would construct it to service the subdivision and the people who were building homes.

The engineering staff advised me that the lines had reached their capacity on either end of the subdivision, even though there was a hydro pole and a telephone at either end of this subdivision, and that it would be impossible to even extend the telephone lines. And, furthermore, if I wanted a telephone line -- or a telephone service, I could construct a new pole line from a DMS station located on County Road 7, approximately three miles from the subdivision.

I suggest that Bell Canada had full knowledge in the '80s of this plan of subdivision coming on-stream, and acknowledged this fact to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

What plans were made by Bell Canada to serve this plan of subdivision? Bell should honour its commitment at this time to put on the telephone. As stated by the Chairman, federal policy states that all Canadians must have accessible and affordable basic local telephone service.

I would draw your attention to an article which appeared in the Toronto Star on August the 3rd, 1997. There is a picture of a nice gentleman in the water in Muskoka, and the article goes on to say that:

"Bell Canada has spent more than $500 million during the past few years (in cottage country and rural areas in Ontario) upgrading..."

"... basic things like 911 service ... Internet connections..."

-- digital service and new technology.

On the back of this article is a map of southern Ontario, and the map indicates quite clearly that all of southern Ontario is receiving special attention with the exception of Victoria and Haliburton Counties. Why is that?

Haliburton County is being ignored by and will soon quickly fall behind the rest of the province if not allowed to expand and develop.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Vasey.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Just a couple of quick questions. You mentioned the population of the Haliburton Highlands. Could you give me that number again?

MR. VASEY: Fourteen thousand.


MR. VASEY: Permanent.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: -- basic, and then increases, you said, perhaps up to tenfold?

MR. VASEY: Tenfold, yes.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Yes. Do you think that a lot of the people who have vacation residences and so forth, is there an increase of people who are wanting to stay there permanently? You mentioned people building permanent homes for retirement. Do you sense an growing population at this point?

MR. VASEY: Yes, definitely. That tenfold figure is from statistics given to the Chamber of Commerce by the Department of Highways. But the tendency is to -- people can live in cottage country, as in the case of Muskoka, and operate efficiently out of the cottage as well as they can in Markham or in Mississauga, and this is the tendency. They build permanent homes and they live and work out of their vacation homes.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. So you didn't mentioned party lines. Is that a big issue in your area?

MR. VASEY: No, it isn't. No, we are --

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: So you are looking for, essentially, service to every residence and quality service?

MR. VASEY: That's right.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: So you can have internet, fax, and so forth?

MR. VASEY: We would like to be classed as not second-class citizens to Muskoka, but on an equal basis with Muskoka.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay, great. That covers my questions.

Thank you very much.


May I ask you what your answer would be to the question I asked of Mr. Bélair earlier, which is: In light of the submissions we are receiving from areas that have no service at all, and then some who have two-party and four-party service, and then those like you who want the area to have enhanced services, whether whatever policy we arrived at should have priorities as to what is eligible for subsidies and where our first priorities should be?

I realize you are here to speak of your region's interest, but do you have any comment as to how the approach should be when we hear from people who have no telephone service at all?

Of course, that is related to the amount of subsidy, the cost. You are asking for service, but do you know what people in your region would be prepared, for example, to accept as reasonable rates for service, if you look at it in light of the other needs that are expressed?

MR. VASEY: Well, I don't -- I don't criticize the Bell Canada for the rates. I think it's modern day and you are going to pay the rates whatever they are. And if the cost to bring this new technology to Haliburton is -- should probably be shared by the consumers and the Bell and the County. That would be reasonable.


MR. VASEY: My particular case here is that all of this happened before deregulation, and now the attitude of the same people that fell over backwards to co-operate with you before have an attitude of "We have a new policy, so get lost." You know, it's as simple as that.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't know if you will be able to wait until the end, but the transcript will be available. Bell Canada representatives are here and in reply they may have something to say about the concerns that you have put forward.

I am happy to see that you do recognize that priorities will have to be established depending on the need, et cetera.

We thank you for your presentation. Thank you very much.

MR. VASEY: Thank you for your concern.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

John Hoogenhoud, North Adventure in Snowmobile Resort.

The next one will be Victor Power, Mayor of Timmins.



MR. HOOGENHOUD: Good morning.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Hoogenhoud. We will hear you as soon as you are ready.

MR. HOOGENHOUD: Okay. Most of my questions have been addressed by my predecessors, and that have done a very good job of it.

I might add one thing, and that is that we in Northern Ontario need upgraded services to conduct our businesses. If we do not have these our businesses will fall by the wayside.

One thing that I wish to bring up is that our services are very dilapidated and basically in the 1930s. We need more private lines so that we can run our internet and we can do so.

We have lines in front of our establishments that have no links into the system, and when we wish to connect to them we are told that they are for future use and we cannot do so.

I'm going to get to one point here. As we know, we have to pay for services, but we are paying for a high-cost service and getting an inferior product, so what we do is we offer to put in our own cable so that we can get better service and then, of course, we are threatened with the legal ramifications.

My question was: If the telephone company does not wish to provide the service, why can we not, in a supposedly free country, put our own cables in to connect to a service that will provide it?

Basically that's -- I'm not familiar with all the legal ramifications and everything that goes along with it, but the thing is, we need services. We are willing to put our own cable system in, but we are told that we cannot because we have to deal with the telephone company at hand. Now, the telephone company at hand, I believe, has their hands tied in various ways, so I would like to have an answer on why we cannot provide our own cable to a telephone system to get our own services.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Hoogenhoud.

Who is your local service provider?

MR. HOOGENHOUD: Northern Telephone.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I am not an engineer, of course, so I can't answer an engineering question very well, but my suspicion is that putting cables in is probably not the only requirement. Exchanges have to be capable of supplying -- or supporting the infrastructure, et cetera.

But the representatives of the telephone company may have some further answers to this. If you can't stay all day a transcript will be available so you will have access to it to see whether there have been any comments from them.

But some possibilities, of course, are arrangements whereby in circumstances where the costs are unusually high there are ways of sharing the costs between potential subscribers and the telephone companies, and this varies from telephone company to telephone company, and indeed we have before us now some further proposals as to how this can be done.

So if you were prepared to -- your region would be prepared to put cables in yourselves, you would obviously be prepared to share the costs of extending service in circumstances where the costs are higher than normal.

MR. HOOGENHOUD: Well, our costs are very much higher than normal. We do not have all the services we need.

The reason we are bringing this up, and I represent my own company, is because we know that the line is there and we do not know all the circumstances behind it. But we are two kilometres from our town, all the services are in our town, we were willing to put our own cable in to supply our own services. We could not do so.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You may have -- if you were here this morning you saw that some representatives from Northern are here.


THE CHAIRPERSON: At the break you may have an opportunity to speak to them, but we understand your concern and it certainly falls within the parameters of the issues we are looking at. Improving service, extending it and having upgraded service that allows access to modern technology is what this whole process is about.

We appreciate your coming and, as was mentioned this morning, if you should wish to you can submit something in writing until the 30th of January, 1999.

MR. HOOGENHOUD: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: As I say, take the opportunity to speak to your telephone representatives, if you wish, about your particular concerns. I am not familiar with every single company's arrangements for extension of service in various circumstances.

Thank you very much, Mr. Hoogenhoud.

MR. HOOGENHOUD: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?


Victor Power, Mayor of Timmins.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.

MR. POWER: Good morning.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We will be happy to hear you.

MR. POWER: It's good to see you here in Timmins. Bienvenue à Timmins...

THE CHAIRPERSON: It's good to be here.

M. POWER: ville la plus grande, la meilleure et la plus chaleureuse au Canada.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Absolument.

MR. POWER: First of all, as Mayor of this municipality I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Commission members present.

I realize that Commissioners are usually pressed for time when they visit a community and therefore cannot play the role of a tourist, but I urge you to take a few minutes to look around Timmins. If you want to spend a few dollars, that's all right too.

I have an --

--- Laughter/Rires

THE CHAIRPERSON: Where should I shop?

--- Laughter/Rires

MR. POWER: There are so many places it would take a day for me to show you around.

I have an ulterior motive in asking you to look about you here in Timmins, because Timmins is more than one of the best communities in which to live and work. It is, in fact, a microcosm of Canada.

As you travel across this great nation to seek answers to the problem of providing service to high-cost serving areas you might well be driving around Timmins. We have a large urban area, the former Town of Timmins with two-thirds of the city's 46,000 population, and then a dozen other communities ranging in population from a couple of dozen people to 6,000.

You can drive more than 44 miles and still be within the City of Timmins. That is because we are the largest municipality in size in Canada. We have 1,240 square miles, and that's where those 46,000 people live. So this is larger than the State of Rhode Island.

Today we have one phone rate for the entire city and enjoy uniform service, but it was not always so. In 1986 the Ontario Telephone Service Commission forced our local service provider, Northern Telephone Limited, to eliminate a number of different rates within the city's boundaries and have just one rate.

It cost a great deal of money to upgrade service and provide the rural areas with equal service. In order to achieve this objective rates were allowed to rise in the urban areas of Timmins. In effect, the majority subsidized the minority in order to improve the quality of life.

I have taken a rather circuitous route to arrive at the point, but I think the example I have just outlined is the solution to the present problem before the Commission.

Subsection 7(b) of the Telecommunications Act states that the Commission must be guided by the following objective:

"to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada".

As with all services, someone has to pay.

In order to achieve this objective, which I note also is the stated intention of the present federal government, I suggest a special levy be imposed on service providers in all the areas of Canada that are judged to be receiving the full range of telecommunications service; that is to say, those areas that in the opinion of the Commission are receiving all the services required under section 7 of the Act.

Modern communications have the ability to eliminate many of the handicaps imposed by time and distance on rural and remote communities. Modern communications also offer job creation possibilities for such communities.

So important is access for all Canadians to the information highway, I would suggest the need ranks with the creation of medicare in 1968. Canadians needed a medical bill of rights, and the government of the day responded with medicare. Today we need a telecommunications bill of rights guaranteeing that services are available, affordable, and of the highest quality possible.

The barriers to present day technology bringing such benefits to rural and remote areas is the high cost of extending service where there is a small population base and a lack of competition.

Again, to look at Timmins, or even all of Northeastern Ontario, there are just not enough residents to support an open competitive market.

I realize and accept that the Commission is committed to creating a competitive environment in telecommunications, but reality is that in most of Canada there is one local service provider and little possibility in the immediate future that competition will develop.

Canada today is not an easy nation to service, and the Commission must be commended for taking these hearings into the heart of the rural and remote countryside.

Cost of servicing communities such as Timmins will rise as new technology offers wider range of service, and even features we cannot conceive of today. I therefore support those numerous groups that have called upon the Commission to set minimum standards for telecommunications services in Canada. That means a resident of Toronto and a resident of Timmins and a resident of Fort Albany will have the right to receive the same minimum level of service.

If this means there must be a complete overhaul of the cost side of the regulatory process, I urge the Commission to move with all possible haste.

Canada as a nation cannot afford to leave the bulk of its citizens at the side of the road as the rest of the industrialized world roars down the information highway.

As President of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, with a membership of 97 municipalities, I can tell the Commission that the population of this part of Ontario is declining. In general that is true for all of Canada outside of the major cities and a band along the U.S. border. That is why user fees on residents of rural and remote communities to achieve entrance to the information highway are impractical.

There is no way to create economies of scale. In fact, maintenance and administrative costs are much higher than in areas with large population bases. One way to reverse the decline in the population outside the 20 large urban areas is by improving communications. There are many social and economic benefits to be obtained from an investment in affordable, high quality telecommunications, but the private sector is unlikely to spend the money required without some sort of subsidy.

We know that with a fax machine, a computer, a modem, and reliable telecommunications services we can work anywhere in Canada. The computer is supposed to usher in an era of returning to the land. It should mean a richer, fuller life for those Canadians who do not wish to endure the stresses and strains of city living. It cannot happen, however, without equal opportunity telecommunications.

The Commission can create geographic equality through rate structure policies, but present and future services must be affordable.

The levels of income vary widely across Canada and residents of certain areas may never be able to pay for services made available through new technology. Thus we return to the principle of affordability. Availability must be coupled with affordability, because Canadians will not accept a two-tiered system, just as they don't want a two-tiered medical system.

Before closing I must remind the Commission that Northeastern Ontario is a unique situation. I urge the Commission when trying to write broadly based policies to remember there are numerous special situations across Canada.

To return to Timmins and its unique circumstances, the local service provider is Northern Telephone, and the long distance provider is the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission through a wholly owned subsidiary O.N. Tel Inc. The O.N.T.C. is a creature of the Ontario government. There is no competition in the operating territory served by O.N. Tel, and although the CRTC may allow it, many questions remain about the issue. O.N. Tel serves 60 communities, and Northern Telephone operates 32 exchanges.

While the objective of competition is commendable, the reality is that most of the communities served by these two organizations are small and unable to finance the service they now receive. Most of these municipalities are members of FONOM, Federation Of Northern Ontario Municipalities, and therefore retention of the delicate balance achieved by these two telecommunications providers is a concern.

The Commission already has accepted the argument that market forces will not on their own achieve the objective of section 7(b). The Commission does, however, have the authority and the power to see that areas served by one service provider receive high quality service.

The service provider must have the financial capability to meet that objective. The present level of service must be maintained and upgraded as required in rural and remote areas.

Technological developments are occurring at breakneck speed, and even a municipality as large as Timmins has to worry about being left behind.

The question of subsidies to provide service to high-cost areas must be broad enough to ensure that existing service does not deteriorate. Since many companies operate in large areas and with a mixture of urban and rural sectors, a monitoring system must be established to ensure that pockets of service neglect do not develop in the future.

I thank you for visiting Timmins and allowing the residents of Northeastern Ontario to participate in these hearings.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Power.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for your welcome to Timmins, it's great to be here.

I have a personal question to ask you first. I need to find a postcard of Timmins. My nine year old daughter has told me I am not welcome home unless I have a postcard of Timmins. I went to a drug store across the road from the hotel where I am staying -- and I won't name either -- and they only have these "Ontario" postcards, all of southern Ontario, and I think they were made in Taiwan or somewhere. So I want a postcard of Timmins.

MR. POWER: Well, I will see that you have one by the end of the day.


MR. POWER: When do these hearings close today?



MR. POWER: I beg your pardon?

THE CHAIRPERSON: After the stores close.

MR. POWER: Oh okay, fine. We will see that you have one, Mr. Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I will be eternally grateful. I will have a bed to sleep in when I get home, eventually.

MR. POWER: I mean, after all, a small card is a small price to pay for what you are going to do for us.

--- Laughter/Rires

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: We aim to please, is our motto.

I find your suggestions very interesting about a telecommunications bills of rights, certainly very interesting for these times as we enter the information age.

And I like the way you put it, that let the computer usher in an era of returning to the land. Certainly that ought to be a good bit of what this information age is about, that we ought to be able to live wherever we want to.

I want to ask you, though, the question that we have been asking around quite a bit: There are a lot of needs out there, and if I categorize them into two, on the one hand there are people who simply need telephone service or need single party lines as opposed to multiple party lines -- or single lines as opposed to multiple party lines; and then there is the further need of more sophisticated services, quality of service in issues such as being able to have high-speed internet and so forth.

How would you recommend we go about that in terms of an order of priority?

MR. POWER: Well, first of all I would think it's the top priority, but I might bring you up to date on something that you may or may not be aware of.

Right now in all of Northern Ontario we have what we call the chrysalis project -- chrysalis meaning the blossoming of a butterfly. The chrysalis project is being advanced by the municipalities in Northeastern Ontario and also Northwestern Ontario, but mainly by the cities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins, and at the present time we have a submission before the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund for stage one funding for this project.

What will happen is that -- well, to give you an example, each of the five large population centres that I mentioned will be a hub, and the telecommunications people within, for example the Timmins region, they have a technical committee going full blast right now. They are at work. The same thing is happening in the four other major centres.

The ultimate goal is that, let's say, you are a patient in Kirkland Lake, you might be able to talk to your specialist doctor at the Timmins District Hospital -- which, by the way, is a state-of-the-art hospital and you might, if you get a chance before you go to the airport, have a look at it.

But also, for example, let's say there is an OAC class in history, and let's say there are only seven students in Chapleau and seven students in Kenora and seven students in Wawa, those students could all be connected by telecommunications to one teacher in Sault Ste. Marie, or wherever. Up to now it probably hasn't been economical to offer certain courses in the school system.

So I have touched on health, I have touched on education, but those are only two of the aspects. It has unlimited potential, the chrysalis project, once it gets up and running.

And if you think that it's something a long ways off, I can tell you that the time zone for implementation is 14 months. We would like to be operational by fall of '99.

So at that point it would be just as economical for someone to set up a service, whether it be government or private sector, in Timmins as in Timbuktu. We would have the same access to telecommunications, not only throughout all of Ontario from the Manitoba border to the Quebec border, but throughout all of Canada and beyond.

So these are -- I don't know whether I have answered your question, but I think I have given you some background.

What was the second part of your question?

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: In terms of the needs of the people of Timmins who have multi-party lines.

MR. POWER: Right.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I understand a lot of people want to have private lines rather than the multi-party lines.

MR. POWER: That's right.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Then there are also people who want to have services like high-speed internet and other quality services. Which is more important? Which one should come first?

MR. POWER: Well, I think we have to have high-speed telecommunications. Really, I think they have to come concurrently, because I don't think -- in the case where there are party lines, I think that is like the Model-T Ford, it's had its day. We have to move into the 21st century. So really, we would need them at the same time.

But the project that I outlined to you gives you an idea of the fact that people here are familiar with the need for modern day telecommunications. We are not waiting for someone to tell us to do it. We are doing it, and we are only asking people such as the CRTC to expedite and help any way they can.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Well, thanks very much.

Just back to the postcard, just let me know where I can pick it up.

MR. POWER: Okay.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I wouldn't want the City to incur any expenses in case --

MR. POWER: We will see that you get it. We will see that you get it.


THE CHAIRPERSON: I wouldn't dare ask you what I would like.

Before we go shopping let me ask you: You mentioned the chrysalis project. Presumably this is core infrastructure, core capital costs?

MR. POWER: That's right.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you concerned about the following ongoing costs of maintaining this configuration or this infrastructure?

MR. POWER: We are confident that the project in terms of operating costs will pay for itself, because right now it is costing humongous dollars to provide some of these telecommunications. The more people that are online, more people within the system, the cost is going to come down. We also know that there will be competition among service providers. So we are confident that that will be able to pay for itself.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So you are confident that the operational costs of the type of services you are looking for will not require subsidies, that the actual costs of providing service will --

MR. POWER: I couldn't say that categorically because, you know, people in any position right now could be proven wrong in terms of costs in the future. But all I can say is it's the old story, "Build and we will come". Remember that Columbus took a chance.

I don't think that the government would be losing money on this type of investment, it would be a tremendous investment in the future.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Just one more question.

You mention in your written brief Timmins and the extension of service in Timmins as a model where urban areas subsidize local areas. When you are looking at this whole issue of high-cost serving areas and how we manage to extend state-of-the-art services in low density areas, and you look at subsidies, have you thought whether the subsidies should be organized on the Timmins model, that is regionally, or whether it should be provincially or, as many parties have suggested, Canada-wide fund?

MR. POWER: Oh, it definitely should be Canada-wide. If we are trying to build a country from sea-to-sea-to-sea, I think it has to be Canada-wide.

And remember that I am not just talking about Timmins in a way here, I'm talking about medium-sized communities all across Canada, whether it be Moose Jaw or Cornerbrook or wherever. I think that all citizens of Canada should have the opportunity to gain from the information highway. Otherwise, if things are allowed to remain as they are, all we are going to see is concentrations of development in Vancouver, in possibly Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and maybe Halifax, and all the rest of small town Canada will be ignored.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

I hope that by the time we have time to go shopping we will have good sales in Timmins.

MR. POWER: Thank you.


Madam Secretary, would you please call the next presenter?


We will now go to Haileybury for David Ramsay and Gary Struthers.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Ramsay.

You can hear us?

MR. RAMSAY (Remote): The first thing I would like to do is to thank you very much for coming to Northeastern Ontario to hear our concerns about telecommunications in this part of the country. You are to be congratulated to do that, and I though I would certainly take the opportunity to use the tele-conferencing facilities that we do have in our region as I make my way to Queen's Park this afternoon, and I very much appreciate this opportunity.

I have been the M.P.P. for this area for 13 years now, and during that time, and before that as a Clerk-Treasurer of Casey(ph) Township, the township where I live.

We have had a steady barrage of complaints about phone service, and over the years those complaints have changed.

When I was the Clerk and would represent the Township at the Ontario Telephone Service Commission hearings, when it was under provincial jurisdiction, the main complaint then was the unreliability of our multi-line service in the countryside. Since then, as times have changed, it's now a big concern about having single-line service and the necessity of that in rural Ontario.

I think this change in the complaint pattern reflects the growing reliance and need of rural citizens in this country, and especially here in Northeastern Ontario, of the need to have single-line service, because of the ever increasing dependency on single-line for, not only voice communication, and the security of that, but also to use all the modern conveniences that are very essential if one is to grow a business and to raise a family.

Because it is no longer acceptable really in this day and age to have any household, I believe, on a multi-party line, I believe this should be stated very clearly as government policy, that every household in Canada should have access to at least one private line.

There are reasons for that. One that sometimes we ignore is safety and security. It is no longer acceptable to be on a party line, as it was in the past, when if an emergency cropped up it was only a matter of interrupting the neighbour's call to say "There is an emergency here at home, I have to call an ambulance or police." Sometimes -- and it has happened here -- people on a multi-party line will connect up to the internet, and of course that blocks that line, and that is extremely dangerous for people. You know, whether you just say it should not be allowed, I guess it is discouraged and maybe isn't allowed, but it happens, and there is no way of interrupting that from the other party.

That is a very dangerous situation that is occurring far too frequently in this area and that has to be stopped, and the one way to stop that, of course, is to ensure that every household has access to private lines.

This leads me to the next point, because despite this example I just made of the use of the internet on party lines that is certainly the exception, and it is certainly necessary for households to have party line -- or private line access so that they can have access to all the educational opportunities on the internet. That is extremely important for people in business, and also extremely important for families to have access for their children and for the adults in our age of continual learning to be able to have full access to the information highway.

I suppose even more important for our region, especially in Northeastern Ontario where we have a cyclical economy, we are susceptible to the vagaries of our boom and bust economy here based primarily on resources, that if we want our small businesses and individuals to develop themselves in the business they have to have access to single-line service.

So with that, it is very, very important. In fact, what we find ourselves at now is a competitive disadvantage to other regions of the country, because 4,850 customers of Northern Telephone do not have access to single-line service.

One of the Commissioners during Vic Powers comments, after that, asked the question: Well, Mr. Powers, what would you prefer to see come first, high-speed data transmission or upgrading of the party line people to single-line service?

Well, I guess I have to tell you that I and a few others, and our M.P. Ben Serré, who has formed a Timiskaming-Cochrane Telecommunications Committee, have, I guess, already made that decision, because we are working very hard to try to bring up to private line service those 4,850 people who find themselves in our region without that service.

We think that has to come first. We don't believe that we can afford to leave those customers, and that many households behind in this day and age. It's wrong for the reasons that I have stated, and we have to address that right away.

In fact, I would say that I will talk before I -- I will mention a few suggested solutions to this -- but we don't even feel we can afford to wait for your Commission to come up with the long-term solution which we will need. We feel we have to come up with some short-term solutions in the interim.

We are working towards a study now that hopefully will indicate how much money might be needed as a contribution from both the provincial and federal governments so that we could, as soon as possible, upgrade those 4,850 households. We think that is very, very important to do right away.

We have other problems in this area. Long distance cost is one. Mr. Power mentioned some of the reasons for that. We obviously need competition. But we have a unique situation here. We have sort of a shotgun marriage between a local phone service supplier and, as you know, the long distance supplier, O.N. Tel. I guess like some marriages there are lots of tensions there. It is a partnership at times, maybe it is a forced partnership, and there are a lot of tensions with that marriage.

I don't know exactly what the answer is there, but we do need some competition, while at the same time we have to ensure that those very remote areas, such as up on the James Bay coast, have service. How we divide that up and how we ensure that there is competition in the high volume areas where competition, I believe, would thrive, and how we guarantee service in areas that probably business would not enter into for competitive purposes is for you to certainly decide.

My guess is, is that how I look at government today is that government should only be in the business of providing service where the private sector can't or won't for whatever reason. I think that always should be our guideline today.

So we need competition for sure.

In the service upgrade, we talked about the higher speed data transmission, and while that certainly is needed in our main centres, and even bringing a lot of people up to touch tone who have private lines, we have to be looking at that, a very basic service that city people and big town people in Ontario take for granted that many of our private line users still today do not have.

So to me the long-term solution probably for local service is some sort of pool of dollars that come from the highly densely populated areas of southern Ontario. I would prefer that sort of system rather than a taxpayer subsidy. I think that is where we need to shift some of the revenues from the very competitive and profitable centres of southern Canada to northern and remote centres, and I think that is the way to do it rather than involving the taxpayers.

The other solution, obviously, is long distance competition. We need that. I know you have a difficult situation here how to do that. The big question that remains is: Should the Government of Ontario remain in the business of being a long distance toll service, and if it is to what extent.

I would like to stop my comments there, and very much appreciate you coming to Northeastern Ontario to hear our concerns. We feel this is a very important issue for us. It is really impeding our economic development and we eagerly await your decisions on this.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Ramsay.

I'm not sure what competition can do for a wobbly marriage, but be that as it may.

You mentioned a project whereby provincial-federal government money would be sought for the purpose of ensuring single-line service in the area that you represent. I suspect this would be a capital funding arrangement as opposed to the subsidization of ongoing costs or rates following the implementation of single-line service?

MR. RAMSAY: That is correct. We are -- and I believe our M.P. Ben Serré will be coming before you and he probably will speak more about this committee that he started in the Timiskaming area. But that is our goal certainly.

I have spoken to Ministers in the Ontario government, and our Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has now such a program in place. We have embarked upon a study and we do hope to access some Ontario government money for capital purposes to try to upgrade those 4,850 households.

As I said, we would like to try to do this as soon as possible. I suppose we could go ahead as quickly as possible if the money was there and we didn't touch the rate structure, and therefore not have to bring forward another application before the Commission. That would be our goal.

We certainly, though, will continue to look to you for a long-term solution as to how these services will continue to be paid for down the road.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Is it your view, Mr. Ramsay, that the subscribers in the region you identified would be prepared to pay higher rates for single-line service?

MR. RAMSAY: Well, I think right now what I hear from most people is that -- and if you are talking higher rates, I think slightly higher rates people would be glad to pay if they could get the single-line service.

What happens today, of course, is that those of us who live in rural Northeastern Ontario that are privileged enough to have a private-line service pay a distance fee from the local exchange. So in some cases single-line service can be as high as maybe $70 in this area.

But if we are talking $5 or $6 more than, say, what somebody pays for in town, I think for having the privilege of living in rural Ontario a slight premium over and above what people in town would pay would be acceptable.

THE CHAIRPERSON: And beyond an increase that you would find acceptable, you are suggesting provincially established funding as opposed to a universal Canada-wide funding arrangement? I believe I heard you say southern Ontario should subsidize Northern Ontario when the costs render service unaffordable. Is it your view in particular that a provincially organized subsidy would be superior to a Canada-wide one that we have heard endorsed by previous participants?

MR. RAMSAY: No. Actually, what I referred to for the ongoing subsidies is that it would come from customers in southern Canada and be transferred to the northern regions of this country.

I agree with Vic Power that it should be Canada-wide. I think the larger the pool, obviously the greater the resource, and just as we do in our federal government between provinces, the greater the opportunity for equalization. So I think a national pooling of basically the customer base to transfer funds to those high -- low density areas would be the way to go.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Ramsay.

We appreciate you not coming to Timmins but speaking to us from Haileybury, which works very well as well.

Thank you very much.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: Yes. From Haileybury, Mr. Gary Struthers.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Struthers. Go ahead when you are ready.

MR. STRUTHERS (Remote): Good morning. I should explain that I am representing the farming communities of Timiskaming and Cochrane. I am the Member Service Representative for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture that represents the farmers of Northeastern Ontario.

I have prepared a written submission, and initially it was coming from the Timiskaming Federation of Agriculture, but I believe Cochrane Federation of Agriculture would like to be included in this representation. I have given copies of this to Mr. Steel(ph) from O.N. Tel, and he has assured me that they will be delivered to you in Timmins.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Struthers.

We will make sure that we get copies of your written submission for the record.


Ladies and gentlemen of the CRTC, let me begin by thanking you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the farming communities of Timiskaming and Cochrane.

The Federation of Agriculture in Timiskaming represents approximately 325 commercial farming operations in the district. In Cochrane I think it is around 100. In Timiskaming the farmgate sales from agriculture amounts to about $30 million a year, and this makes agriculture a fairly large contributor to the economic situation in Timiskaming.

As you can imagine, the majority of the farms are well removed from the urban areas in the district. This creates a major difficulty for the people who own and operate those farms when it comes to communications.

The most obvious difficulty is the inability of most of the farmers to have private-line telephone service. Some farmers have been told for more than a decade that they are on a list of people waiting for private-line telephone service, and somehow they just keep moving down that list. They never get the service.

Why do they want private-line service? The reasons are many, but primarily they want access to today's modern information highway. For their friends and relatives in urban areas being on the internet is no big deal, they have been there for several years and they take the service for granted. Not the majority of farmers in Timiskaming-Cochrane. They can't even have an answering machine or a fax machine to help them with their businesses, because they have no private-line service.

Why the urgency? Modern communications technology has brought much of the world together to do business and to share cultures. The term "global marketplace" is no longer a catchy phrase, it's a reality. Unfortunately, the rural and farming communities of Northeastern Ontario, for the most part, can't share in any of the advantages of that modern communications technology. They are left to experience only the disadvantages of not being part of the modern business world.

Farmers are busy people, spending much of their time outside working with their livestock or cultivating crops in their fields. When an important transaction depends on a telephone call the farmers of Northeastern Ontario have to sit by their telephones waiting. They can't use answering machines or fax machines because they share their phone line with two or three other families.

As urban society moves further and further into rural areas, the problem for farmers needing their phones to do business only increases. Most of the non-farm population living in rural areas have no appreciation for the importance of a single telephone call -- have no appreciation for the importance a single telephone call can have for a farmer. Many of them use the telephone as a social tool and are reluctant to relinquish their use of the party line to permit a farmer to call his veterinarian or check on the latest commodity prices. For the farmers these are critical calls, usually meaning the difference between a dead or a healing animal or several thousand dollars in lost revenue because they weren't able to sell their canola at a peak price, a situation that people playing the stock markets could not tolerate.

The internet also offers many services to the farming community, everything from up-to-date weather information to reports on the quality of the last shipment of milk, or the opportunity to locate a rare but necessary piece of farming equipment or a critical part for repairs.

The Ontario government, like many others, has been downsizing its operations, and the farmers of Northeastern Ontario can see this through reduced staff at Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs offices, even some closed offices.

They expect -- that is the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs -- expects farmers to access the information they need now via the internet. Most farmers in Northeastern Ontario are simply out of luck, because the best telecommunications they have access to comes with a party line telephone, and the internet is only something they have heard about.

They can't connect to all the business and services they see advertised in newspapers and magazines with e-mail addresses or web sites even. It's a world beyond their reach, but one their urban neighbour has had access to for several years and now takes for granted.

What is needed? It's time for the CRTC to meet the challenge of providing equal access to modern telecommunications technology to all residents of Canada, including the farming and rural communities of Northeastern Ontario. Four party-line service is no longer an acceptable standard for minimum mandated service.

If the farming community -- if the farming and rural residents of Northeastern Ontario are to feel equal to their neighbours in much of the rest of Canada, the CRTC has to update its minimum mandated standard to at least single-line service to every household, and preferably the availability of multiple single lines to each household to permit simultaneous voice and data transfer.

Big and small businesses in urban centres can get multiple private-line telephone service, and for the farming business that has as much as $5 million invested in that business -- that's an individual farm -- it should deserve equal recognition and service provision.

In conclusion, solving this situation that has left the farming and rural communities of Northeastern Ontario stuck in the median of the information highway will not be simple, but the CRTC has to recognize the inequalities that have developed here. These inequalities of telephone service have put the farmers of Northeastern Ontario at a competitive disadvantage for too long so it is urgent that the CRTC make the necessary changes immediately.

Thank you, and best of luck with your critical deliberations.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Struthers.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you, Mr. Struthers.

A couple of questions. First, I hear you quite clearly in the importance of single lines.

With regards to waiting for information, if you are waiting for some information from a potential client or other type of stuff that you really need, what do you do? Do you literally have to leave the farm alone and sit by the phone?

MR. STRUTHERS: I'm sorry, I wasn't able to hear part of your question.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Can you hear me better?

MR. STRUTHERS: The volume here is pretty low.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Can you hear me better now?



I hear you quite clearly in your point about the importance of a single line, but I am just wondering with regards to your point about waiting by the phone for information when you are waiting to hear from a potential client for example. What do you really do in that instance? Do you or a member of your family or somebody have to literally sit by the phone?

MR. STRUTHERS: That is how it has to happen, yes. They are taken away for an hour, half an hour, or maybe three hours waiting on a phone call and they can't attend to the other business.


In terms of information that is available on the internet, that the ministry is telling you is available, if you can't get it via that route, via the internet, how do you access it? At this point do they make it available to you by mailing you stuff, or is there somewhere you can go to get it, or do you just not get it?

MR. STRUTHERS: In a lot of cases it's just not available.

As a personal example, my neighbour, who runs a really large dairy farming operation is in the process of just getting ready to take hay off right now, and he is very concerned about the weather conditions. I have access to the internet, and right now I am making copies of several weather forecasts that are available on the internet and taking those to him so he can make an assessment of whether he should cut his hay or leave it for a day or so.

So it is that sort of thing that is very critical to the farming community.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. So with regarding a decision like that in terms of cutting hay, how much time do you have? I mean, do you need to know the weather pattern for the next day, two days?

MR. STRUTHERS: Usually you have a day and-a-half to two days after you cut your hay that you have to have fairly sunny, dry weather or the hay could be rotted and be of no use to the animals.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. And the information you receive by radio isn't good enough?

MR. STRUTHERS: Well, what comes on the internet is updated about every four hours on the Environment Canada web site, and I also access satellite pictures of Canada and North America from U.S. and Canadian sources as well, and it is very useful to be able to see where the weather systems are. Locally the television stations do not provide such satellite service in most cases, so you can't really tell what is coming.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Right, okay. I suppose if you are getting it on television, it's just maybe once or twice a day.

Are there winter --

MR. STRUTHERS: Yes. And there again -- I'm sorry.

There again, you have to sit by the television at a designated time, whereas with the internet you can go to it at four o'clock in the morning, you can go to it at midnight and pick out the information that you want and need and you don't have to wait for an hour and-a-half or whatever to get that information.


Are there particular winter conditions as well that you need to know? I guess that's more with livestock farming.

MR. STRUTHERS: There are commodity prices that are offered, both for feeds and grains and oilseeds and that sort of thing, but there are also livestock markets. When a farmer in Northeastern Ontario has to ship his animals to southern Ontario it is very beneficial to know what the market conditions are down there so you can have some expectation of what you will be receiving for that animal.

The newspaper that does agriculture stuff comes once a week and on the web site their pages are updated on a daily basis. So that way a farmer has a much better idea, a clearer picture of what is to be expected.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Well, thanks very much for that, because it does help us get a better picture of the importance of technology and the internet to an individual farmer.

So thanks very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Struthers.

MR. STRUTHERS: Thank you for this opportunity.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I think this would be an appropriate time to take a 15-minute break. So by my watch we will be back at shortly before five to 11:00.

Thank you.

--- Recessed at 1041/Suspension à 1041

--- Resumed at 1104/Reprise à 1104

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please. À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.

Madam Secretary, would you call -- voulez-vous appeler le participant suivant s'il vous plaît.

LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, Madame.

On appelle M. Rheal Cousineau, Township of Glackmeyr, et ensuite, M. Doug Orth, Timiskaming-Cochrane.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Cousineau.

M. COUSINEAU: Bonjour.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Est-ce que ça c'est votre magasinage de la matinée?

M. COUSINEAU: Bien, j'ai vu, Madame, que vous aviez besoin de faire des emplettes. Ça fait que j'ai été les faire pour vous. Non, c'est juste une petite... C'est juste une... je peux bien vous donner une idée...

--- Laughter/Rires

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Ah, très bien. J'en ai...

M. COUSINEAU: ...avant de débuter.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: J'en ai un chez moi, avec Bell Canada écrit dessus.

M. COUSINEAU: Est-ce que je peux débuter?

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Oui, allez-y. Est-ce que c'est possible d'avoir l'internet avec ce système?

M. COUSINEAU: J'ai pas essayé.


Allez-y, M. Cousineau.

M. COUSINEAU: Un gros merci à la Commission de nous avoir donner la permission de vouloir vous adresser la parole.

I will do the presentation in English, of course.

I represent Glackmeyr Township, which is a rural community that is part of Gary Struthers OFA Group, which is the Cochrane District, Cochrane North- Cochrane South District.

I will wear several hats when I do this presentation because I do fit into David Ramsay's vision of things that we are in Northern Ontario, much like in southern Ontario, diversified as far as jobs, as far as people doing many jobs.

I wear Gary Struthers hat as being a farmer with a large farm in the Cochrane area. I am also an insurance broker so I do wear the business part of it. I am the Reeve of the Municipality of Glackmeyr, which is a rural municipality, and I also sit on the Cochrane Economic Development Agency which is in charge of development in our area, which is both rural and urban.

I think before we start the presentation I would like to say that we will be submitting to the Commission a written report. At this particular time I am just going to go by notes, if you don't mind. I prefer to do it that way. I'm ill at ease with speeches.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Anyone who can phone on this can make a speech on his own.

MR. COUSINEAU: Yes. Well, we have been talking this morning about -- I came up with this idea last night I guess. We were discussing party lines.

Back in 1950 on our large dairy farm, before telephone service was in our community, my brothers and myself used to play around with these cans with the one wire, and then we sort of came up with the idea that now we are talking party lines and now we have two wires for every can.

Now, that's 50 years ago that we started doing this. We now see people in the crowd here with beepers, cell phones, high traffic lines, you name it, the whole slew of modern technology. In our rural municipality we are still stuck with this.

Gary mentioned that the rural population now -- the farmer who is 3 per cent of this population right now, producing the food for the society -- has to rely on this. Which is probably the only shortfall in his whole operation, because the rest of it is high tech, except for his communications. Now we have to rely on communications because the farms are so much bigger, our businesses are so much bigger, and we are stuck with the present situation.

So this is just a little joke in passing. Nothing serious. I hope it's taken in light of that, but it was just for the fun of it. We consider our telephone system to be pretty antique.

Some of us do have private lines which we use for internet and stuff like this, but much like Gary, only a few of us can use this.

I guess while most of the presentations are sort of hinting at customer dissatisfaction, I would like my presentation to be offering solutions.

First of all, I will describe a little bit what our community is all about geographically.

Glackmeyr is a municipality that stretches between two rivers the Abitibi and the Frederick House. Beside us is our neighbour the Town of Cochrane, which is the home of the world famous Polar Bear Express. And at the same time the Polar Bear Snowmobile Club, which offers the best snowmobile trails in the world, which happen to go through my municipality.

We have been able to reach that point, I guess, as far as the world snowmobiling and this stuff, not by the services that we had particularly in Glackmeyr, but our neighbouring municipality, which is the Public Utilities Commission, has -- Cochrane PUC, as we call it -- has an internet, home pages and stuff like that, and we are able to promote our ski-doo trails through that medium worldwide.

I guess as far as our municipality, I have been involved for a number of years, either through my dad who was in politics for a long time, and myself, at various times meeting with Northern Telephone, making them aware of our situation.

I had a concern right from day one where we were asked: If you guys can get the funding we will update your lines. If you politicians can get some funding we could update these lines.

Some of these politicians this morning have mentioned that there might be some funding municipally, federally, and they are asking you to make this available. I would say at this point that I am agreeable to this, because we have to find a solution to this problem to bring us into the 21st century, which is not that far away.

I want to go one step further, though, as a farmer and as a businessman, that any commitment of public money should be translated into shares, and that's going to go -- people are going to "Oh", you know. Well, I think that is the only way to have control.

The last meeting that we had with Ontario Northland, I believe it was in Mattice, they told us that we needed $28 million to upgrade the northern corridor. My Reeve at that time, which I was participating with, and our Township Clerk, decided that we were going to say, Well, okay. If we put in $28 million to upgrade this do we have shares in Northern Telephone?" I believe that is important in these discussions.

If governments are going to be funding any type of restructuring in our area I think it should be funnelled through municipalities so that we have a say in how this is being done. I'm not saying that we should see appointees. We should see municipalities appointing people on these companies so that we know how they run and where their priorities are.

It's public money that is coming in, and it should be funnelled through municipalities, and then municipalities would have a say on these board of directors. Just a comment in passing.

I don't think that to bring money or to put money directly to companies, this money could be funnelled into larger areas and it does not benefit our rural areas. If you have a say on the board, much like big corporations, then you can influence decisions. Now, I am a bit of an idealist, because it doesn't really work that way, but it's worth a try.

Now, I guess in our situation, which is Glackmeyr, we don't have to ask for a lot of money in this case from you folks, we are participating in it, because we do have the Cochrane Public Utilities Commission sitting right beside us about a mile away, and these people are doing a good job in the town providing that to my office, providing telecommunications to my office, and I think they could do just as good a job doing it one mile away or two miles away on my farm. So I think in this case our 2-7-2 listing could be handled without too much difficulty financially.

This is not going to happen, though, because -- I don't know the whole structure of things and all the rules and guidelines that apply as far as telecommunications, but it's not that easy. You cannot basically approach -- as Reeve approach this group and say, "Okay, well can you do this?" There are rules in there that are in force and it's not that easy.

But in our case it is a proposal. I think it's something to strive for because it doesn't cost money. And today, as a person running a municipality in this age, I think, money is of greatest import. I don't want to spend money and I don't want to make money wasted for no reason at all. So if we can do it effectively, let's do it, and let's not wait 19 months to do it. I mean, we have to do it immediately. Time is precious.

As far as our present provider, I think that there is going to be enough said about these providers today. I am not blaming the people that are in charge of these providers, they represent an organization, which is an organization tied into a larger organization. But I think we have gotten to the point now where we have to do something, or we have to get somebody to do something, because all our efforts that we have put in the past have gone completely unlistened to.

In other words, there is a certain arrogance there. There is a certain "We don't care" attitude. When the client calls and says "Well, I need a different coloured phone" and we say "We only have beige", we get upset because when we watch TV -- and of course on TV we are fully modernized, we can get all the 27 channels from both sides of the border and then some -- and they say, "Well, you know, why don't you call. And you have call waiting and you have this and you have that, and in different colours too."

We don't have that opportunity. We are still in black and white and beige. I think that shows -- it's a small, piddly little thing, but it shows what big corporations can become when they have total control and nobody to watch them.

As a result of this, we sort of become -- and I will quote that -- hopeless have-nots that are completely dissatisfied, don't really know what to do, and I guess maybe today is our only chance to get a fair hearing.

As far as -- let's go back to the funding again. There are many ways, many excellent ways that were presented today. I was glad to be here to listen to that. I think subsidization from the south, this type of thing, could work. They have larger numbers, we have smaller numbers.

I don't feel particularly bad to have southern Ontario subsidize us with telecommunications because, whether you know it or not, we are subsidizing them in other fields at the present time, and that is with natural resources. So if we ship lumber to them, agricultural products to them, or whatever, on roads that are, you know, not the best in the world, I don't feel too bad if they give me a telephone line in exchange.

As a farmer, I don't feel too bad at all if they subsidize a phone line, because I'm already feeding him for $0.12 on the dollar. So, I mean, it's not that bad.

But I would prefer to see a system that would be the sort of system that pays for itself. Now, that might not be possible because of the distances, and I think David Ramsay stressed on that, and I think Reg mentioned something like that this morning, it's a large area to cover.

But we have seen in the last hundred years in this country that large areas had to be covered by rail, or by whatever field, and it was done. And the results have been magnificent. So let's -- you know, I mean, let's build on that.

As far as our particular plight right now, I think it is basically to encourage some changes to rules -- I will use an example of John this morning who did a presentation -- where a businessman with a large farm, or a large tourism operation, could probably have some different rules that if he is willing to pay for this, and the company can absolutely not afford to do it, that he be given an opportunity at least to put the $27,000, $30,000, $40,000 in there to bring the line in, especially if it's only a couple of miles away.

As farmers, when you look at these farms that Gary was mentioning this morning, a $5 million operation, these tourist lodges that are in the same value, it's maybe the way to go, everybody pays their fair share. So it's better than subsidization.

But I think that these areas must all be looked at by your group and a variety of things done. I don't think there is going to be one particular rule that is going to really fit the bill for everybody across this country, it's too big a country. I'm saying that let's build some flexibility in that system.

So in closing, I think that we are here today to ask the Commission to basically do something for us. We are hoping that it will not be an exercise that will have no results. We are hoping to see a little bit of the diversification, a little bit more understanding from the people who are serving us right now, and an effort on their part to do some creative financing, even if it means taking from some areas and giving to others so that we have a good balance.

You see, what happens when you don't have communications, and I think some of the speakers before hinted at that, is that we have an exodus from rural areas, and to some extent from our Northern towns because they search for towns that offer these services. It is not good for our industries, and we have large industries, be it mines, forests, and they need that infrastructure to be able to attract some of the people that they need for the particular jobs that they have in those mills. I think telecommunications is the way to go.

By not providing it, we are sort of going back to the dark ages and, again, to this little scenario here. I think we can't afford to do this as a country and as a province, and especially not in my area. In order for my area right now to grow municipally and to grow agriculturally, I need to be able to access information a lot faster. It has to be done effectively so it doesn't cost the general public of this country a whole lot of money.

But I think it is something that can be worked out because there is always a balance there. If we are subsidizing them with something, they should be able to help us with the other side, and we will all benefit by it, because we have a better balance all throughout the country.

So I think what I am asking the Commission is to be speedy with this. I know you have a mandate to do this in whatever year, but I think it is important that we establish that we have true leadership here and that we are willing to do this quite rapidly.

There are all kinds of political problems, but I think if we wipe out the word "can't" out of all of our dictionaries, and we set our goals toward doing it, I think we can do it.

And it can be a win-win situation for the companies that are doing it right now, because we may be able to look at some new scenarios, but definitely as far as municipalities and people of the North, I would like the people of the North to maintain some power over these corporations if any government funding is to be offered.

And not by appointees, if you please. We need people that are elected by our people to serve so that we can put our best heads on these boards so that we don't wind up in the situation we are in right now.

Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Reeve.

When you mention having some say in the providers of telecom, you used the word "shares" earlier. Were you using the word loosely, or were you suggesting that there be municipal ownership?


THE CHAIRPERSON: Which would be concomitant with the amount of subsidies provided, or simply a say on the board?

MR. COUSINEAU: You could have it any way you want. I'm sure that when you say "shares" there is going to be a general reaction that "We really don't want you guys involved in our business", but I don't think that you can -- if you are running a business right now where there are shareholders and your shares are trading on any market, right now if somebody dumps $28 million in your business he is going to ask for some say in how this is being run. Not necessarily -- he may not have a huge say in which line is going in and that type of thing, but in the general direction that this company is taking vis-à-vis how it is serving the population.

THE CHAIRPERSON: In your view it's not sufficient for a system where subsidies for capital costs are actually earmarked with some control over what they are used for?

MR. COUSINEAU: Well, subsidies for capital costs, once you have upgraded this system to the level where you think it is adequate, if you don't have a good system in place that is making money you are going to be back -- you won't be able to keep upgrading. So you need to put something in there that is going to be -- it's a tough situation because, I mean, you are servicing a large area now and it has to be effective, but the client cannot afford to pay $150 per line per month in order to get this better service.

So there has to be some subsidy here, or some form of subsidy or equalization, both on the operation of it in the future, and on the construction side of it when you are doing it.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So you would see subsidies on an ongoing basis as for the ongoing cost to the subscriber as well as possible subsidies or funds for capital costs at the front end?

MR. COUSINEAU: Well, I realize it's early for Christmas, but there is no harm in asking I guess. I don't think we are going to get all of that, but maybe some middle ground can be achieved there.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We are very grateful, Mr. Cousineau, that you acknowledge that this is not going to be easy, but we are committed of course, the Commission, at working hard at finding some solution that will improve the situation. I'm sure it's unlikely to please everyone but we are working hard at it.

Before I leave you I have one more question: Do you not think that beige is an improvement on silver?

MR. COUSINEAU: Well, you know, I don't know. Being a Montreal Canadian fan, I like my telephone red.

--- Laughter/Rires

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. I will tell you one thing, I'm not asking you to go shopping for me today.

MR. COUSINEAU: No, no, no. No, I may be on the cheap side.

--- Laughter/Rires

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Cousineau.

MR. COUSINEAU: Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: It was nice hearing from you.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?


Mr. Doug Orth.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Orth.

MR. ORTH: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I will be speaking to you as the Chairperson of the Timiskaming-Cochrane Telecommunications Infrastructure Improvement Committee, which is a long name. What I will be presenting is really the responses of our committee members. We did send a copy of our presentation to them, and they have provided me with a number of revisions.

What I will do in respect of them is read our presentation, and then at that point hopefully answer any questions you may have.

The following are excerpts from letters which I recently received from disgruntled telephone customers relating to the availability of telecommunications services which most Canadians take for granted.

"We run a farming business and cannot connect to the internet, answering machine, fax machines or e-mail. Road kill on the information highway.

When we need to use the system for a vet call re a sick animal, or order a part, or see if a farming neighbour can give a hand, you must wait for the non-farmer to finish a telephone visit that may take up to an hour before the line is relinquished.

Every call we make is a long distance call, except to 1,400 residents of Englehart.

I am unable to connect with conference calls as the party line people will not acknowledge requests for confine calls for a particular hour while the conference call goes on.

I was Vice-Chair of the Farm Organization Accreditation Tribunal and could not carry on a confidential conversation concerning hearings.

We are true isolated from southern Ontario, indeed Canada and the rest of the world.

We require the technology now, not in two or three years. Let us stop with the mishandling of our dollars and put this pathetic process into action." (As read)

Ladies and gentlemen, these comments, while blunt, indicate the frustration voiced daily by residents of rural areas and communities throughout our region.

In order to better depict their situation I will review the issues surrounding existing telecommunications service in rural areas as presented by various parties and explore their implications with regards to economic and social growth of our areas.

From the customer's perspective, the party line issue is the most contentious in our rural area. Businesses of all types face competitive pressures on a daily basis, and now must reckon with the challenges of a global marketplace. In areas where private-line service is not available businesses cannot utilize technologies which have existed for over 10 years, such as faxes or answering machines.

In an age of high-speed data transfer these companies must rely on land-based delivery systems to handle their business transactions, while their competitors can communicate within seconds.

With the development of the internet and high-speed information transfer these businesses are placed at a competitive disadvantage which could well spell their doom.

Privacy issues also face very quickly in our discussions with residents and businesses alike. It is absurd to ask business operators to negotiate contracts, discuss receivables or payables, personnel issues or any of 100 other confidential matters which could occur during the normal business day when up to three others who share the party line can listen in on the conversation.

Those businesses who are fortunate enough to have private-line service in outlying areas must pay for the privilege either through distance charges or expensive cellular systems which erode their bottom line.

We have heard numerous quotes where telecommunications has levelled the global business playing field, however, until such time as the same service is available at competitive pricing businesses who locate outside of major urban areas in our region will continue to struggle.

Unfortunately, too often these same businesses are counted upon to provide stable employment in depressed areas.

"Rural" should not be perceived strictly as remote locations, farming operations or businesses which must locate in isolated areas for resource extraction purposes. The effects of substandard telecommunications service are felt throughout our area, including communities of up to 5,600 people.

While party lines are not the issue in these areas, many are still served by analog switching.

The existence of outdated technologies in these communities create their own set of problems for the business operator. Difficulties are most often associated with lengthy delays in obtaining connections, poor sound quality, frequent disconnects, and the inability to accommodate fast modem speeds.

Once again from the business perspective, we see an inability to obtain telecommunications services which are comparable to more urban areas. We have had instances where business customers received a recording saying the business is no longer in service. We have had fax machines switching to auto redial prior to connections being made, or the use of the internet being restricted. Any of these circumstances can seriously hinder a business' ability to compete in the new global marketplace.

When one considers that high-cost serving areas are, for the most part, in the more isolated rural areas, telecommunications technology should be considered the key to levelling the playing field of economic growth, rather than an additional obstacle which must be overcome if our rural communities are going to survive.

The ability of our communities to attract or develop new business or industry is severely hampered as most companies, particularly those in the faster growing high-tech sectors, rely heavily on the ability to communicate effectively to markets around the world.


MR. ORTH: I'm sorry.

THE CHAIRPERSON: -- may we ask you to slow down your delivery, please. I think it is a bit difficult for the court report.

MR. ORTH: Okay. That's fine.


MR. ORTH: I have quite a bit to say, so if you don't mind me taking a little time. Okay.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We will hear you.

MR. ORTH: Okay. Thank you.

If a region cannot offer services which are at least comparable to what is available in more urban areas it will be difficult to retain the companies which currently exist, let alone attract others.

Other services which are widely available and utilized as part of the daily routine for most Canadians remain out of reach to customers in areas which are more costly to serve. Conveniences such as call waiting, call forwarding, call display, call return, speed calling, or three-way calling are amenities which cannot be utilized by thousands of customers because they are unavailable due to party line systems or poor switching capabilities which cannot accommodate the technology.

Those areas still inflicted with party line service or poor switching capabilities are usually the greatest distance from emergency medical or protective services and need to have the fastest, most efficient methods to summon help, rather than the most antiquated.

A development of the internet has ushered in a whole new era of information services which are available at the touch of a keyboard. Schools across the country are receiving assistance to hook up because of the wealth of knowledge that is available.

What opportunities exist for party line customers to enjoy the benefits of online learning? Imagine the disadvantage if your son or daughter were facing the future if they were not able to access the internet or other online supports to assist with their education at home. How can we deny them the same access to information that other students and children enjoy? Do they not have the right to access the same opportunities as other people in the country? Would it be acceptable to you if your children were in this situation?

Yet another constraint facing our customers in our area are long distance toll charges. We have numerous communities throughout our region ranging in size from a few hundred to over 10,000. For the most part, long distance charges apply whenever calls are placed outside of their immediate municipal area. While customers are paying service charges as approved by the CRTC they may well be incurring costs above the norm because of the current established toll areas.

In summary, the greatest impacts which are being felt by our regions due to the lack of adequate telecommunications technology include:

First, it is extremely difficult for business people to compete when they are unable to utilize the technologies which have existed for some time and are available to their global competitors. This in turn makes it extremely difficult for rural communities to retain their economic base and attract new industries.

Customers cannot access the same services which are readily available in most areas in the country. This has a significant impact on their quality of life, to the extent that it limits their educational opportunities and could well jeopardize their well-being.

When one considers that the areas which suffer from substandard telecommunications infrastructure are usually those in the more depressed regions of our country the implications are more serious.

From the company's perspective, there are a variety of mechanisms for telecommunications delivery across the country. In our situation in Northeastern Ontario we have certainly one of the more complex. Within our region we have four companies which provide service, two which operate within a small geographic area, a carrier which services the entire region, and a local service provider which delivers local service to the majority of our customers.

Too often the customer's needs are overshadowed by the bureaucracies required to deliver service under these circumstances.

An example of this has recently occurred where we have had two companies oppose each other concerning the delivery of digital switch technology in aid of our outlying communities. While these companies jostle for position of best advantage the needs of the customer are less significant than the corporation's position at the end of the day.

With the prospect of open competition on the horizon our carrier, O.N. Tel, and our largest service provider, Northern Telephone, cannot plan to finance improvements over a long period of time as there is no guarantee they will be able to recoup their costs.

If companies relied solely on the revenues generated by their customers most customers would not receive any service as no business case can be made. This is particularly true in rural areas where a large infrastructure is required to provide service to a very small customer base.

These are the areas which are receiving the minimum basic service requirement which is mandated by the CRTC. Unfortunately, at this time it is four-party service.

If under existing regulatory conditions companies cannot financially provide adequate service, the challenge before the CRTC as the regulatory body is to fulfil their mandate of providing the same level of affordable telecommunications service to all Canadians. This we acknowledge is no small task, but we would offer some suggestions which could assist our area.

It appears obvious that the first objective must be to ensure the minimum standard is raised to provide a common platform of telecommunications services which is the same for both rural and urban areas. The justification for this has already been provided both on a social and economic basis.

Minimum service standards should include individual line service utilizing digital technology and access to the internet for each customer.

With the rapid growth of telecommunications technology there is some concern that the standard may well have to be raised again by the time the CRTC completes its deliberations and a ruling is made. While the CRTC should be applauded for its efforts to rectify the difficulties facing rural areas, steps should be taken as soon as possible to streamline the process.

It has been suggested that whenever the application of new technologies reaches over 50 per cent of the total telephone customers a new basic level of service would deem to have been created. This would ensure that all Canadians would have access to the same level of service on an ongoing basis.

It has already been established that the lack of resources available to companies in high-cost areas is a major constraint to providing service. Another objective should then be to develop a mechanism which provides equal access to service that is equally affordable.

Numerous scenarios come to mind, however the CRTC should deliberate funding solutions on its own to ensure an equitable outcome.

It does make some sense, however, that a tariff or charge applied to everyone could supply a pool of funds upon which any company could draw.

It must be stated in closing that establishing a common platform of telecommunications services must be the first priority of any government intervention, be it federally or provincially, be it regulatory or financial. Our high-cost serving areas must be brought up to existing levels of service in urban areas before any funding is provided for additional enhancements. To do otherwise would be to encourage different classes of customers.

On behalf of our committee, I thank you for the opportunity of providing our thoughts.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Orth.

Commissioner Cardozo?

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you very much, Mr. Orth.

I appreciate the detail that you have gone into and the priorizing that you have provided us with, it is quite clear.

I wonder if you would give us a little background about your committee and just give us a sense of the area you are covering and the kinds of issues you are dealing with?

MR. ORTH: Okay. The Telecommunications Committee has membership from private sector, service providers, both the federal and provincial members of Parliaments, the municipalities, as well as some interest groups, including the Federation of Agriculture.

We cover an area which essentially extends from Temagami in the south to the Cochrane area in the north, and also from Matachewan in the west to the Quebec border, excluding Timmins. So we cover a very, very broad geographic area.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: The issues that you have mentioned, are those the core of the issues that you are dealing with in the committee?

MR. ORTH: Yes, exactly. Our ultimate goal as a committee is to have the same level of service provided to anyone in our region as a customer in downtown Timmins or Sudbury, or wherever, would be able to obtain when they pick up their telephone.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Who co-ordinates the committee?

MR. ORTH: The committee was originally form by Benoit Serré, who is our Member of Parliament. As Chairperson, I am ultimately responsible for calling the meetings and setting agendas, et cetera.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: So what you have done, then, is to include people from municipalities, the industry and --

MR. ORTH: Absolutely. We also leave a time at any of our committee meetings where residents and individuals and anyone who has a question or a concern with regards to telecommunications technology can speak their mind, give us their ideas, let us know what their problems are, and also request solutions.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Outside government and the industry, you mentioned the Federation of Agriculture. Are there other groups as well?

MR. ORTH: I'm trying to think, and I hope no one will be offended on the committee if I don't mention them.

Certainly we have other funders who may be there. For example, we have a representative from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, we have a representative from FedNor who also sit on the committee as well.

The intent of the Member of Parliament is to have a grassroots or an additional committee set up that we would deal with that is made up of consumers.


That covers my questions.

MR. ORTH: Okay. Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Orth.

MR. ORTH: Okay. Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?


Dr. Claude Vezina.

We will now go to Kirkland Lake to Charles Gervais.



MR. GERVAIS (Remote): Can you hear me?

THE CHAIRPERSON: Bonjour, M. Gervais.

MR. GERVAIS: Bonjour.

I am talking as a -- I just moved to the Kirkland Lake area this last November from Audie(ph) Lake, and we just purchased a home out in the country and we are having a problem that it's not a private line, it's connected to everybody else on a party line.

I also have a problem, a health problem which is called mitochondria disorder, which there is no cure for and I have actually lost three daughters in death.

When I was living down south in around the Audie Lake area I was connected to the internet and I was always access to research for looking for health products, and when the doctor says there's no cure for you you are kind of very concerned.

I'm sure there are a lot of other people out there that may have the same problem as I have and I can't get the access to the internet. I find it very frustrating because I was connected to a lot of doctors and research, and I just can't seem to have that now since I have been here.

I also find when I want to use the line there always seems to be somebody else on the line, and sometimes they are not very friendly on the line.

You know, our phone sometimes cuts out a lot. Back to Friday, it was cut out for the period of a day until they corrected it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and we have a lot of static on there.

I don't know, I guess I'm spoiled in some ways where I was access to the real world of everybody else having the line when they wanted to, and now I feel like I'm gone back to the caveman style and I'm having a very hard, difficult time with that.

I just wanted to say for other people around the countryside, we have been working for Mr. Serré as well looking for people to sign petitions, and we have been to many roads, my wife and I, Marilyn and I, and she and I have been trying to talk to some people. We met some people out there that once upon a time they said they had 10 party line people on the phone, and I just couldn't fathom that, that there are 10 other homes connected to the other line.

We found some people out there that are not well off at all and they don't have no phone because they can't afford no phone, and they really depend on their neighbour, and sometimes they can't depend on their neighbour because they are not there sometimes if there was a case of emergency.

Now, for my case, I am 10 minutes away from Kirkland Lake and I have to be access to a hospital. We are fortunate, our committee of our town -- country committee people put out some tag numbers on our driveways, you know, and that's pretty access to the ambulance if anything was to come my way.

But we just find that the people out there need to have a change. And really, we are coming close to Year 2000, and I'm sure if we can go to Mars or we can go to the moon, I'm sure we can have some kind of access to having a private line just like anybody else. I think that we are being robbed by that.

I know there's a cost. I'm sure that we could work some way or another to put money together. Like I know some people are paying for private lines of $70, or some are paying $60 for a private line, but then again I find that's a little to high just to have a line. But I'm sure if we could all work together and come to a balance of some kind of price that we could be able to have a private line just like anybody else.

And have a choice of colours of phones, like the man said earlier. I think that's very appreciable too.

So I find that they have -- Northern Tel has some way of controlling us to a point that we can't have really a say.

So now we are coming towards you with compassionate heart hopefully that you will see and understand that there are many of us out here, or really out in the boonies that we just can't seem to get right with anybody else out here. If we can work with our M.P.s as well as the mines and the industrial areas to find a way to put out the money -- I know that I heard it's a big amount of money, but I'm sure that we could come across somehow to get a private line in here. Because for myself, I need to be access to doctors and access to certain health products.

And I'm looking down the road to maybe, possibly, if everything goes well, have an elk and deer farm, which the antlers is a very, very good product for -- healing product, you know. And it's something that I'm really concerned about and I wouldn't mind having an access.

In fact, I was talking to somebody in London this morning who sent some product to me, and I have been trying to get hold of her for I think three or four days and I couldn't get hold of her, and she tried to get hold of me and the line is busy because there are other people on the line.

Also, when I come home I'm so used at one time coming home to answering machine, and that's the first place I go, press my answering machine, oh, who has been talking to me or who has been trying to reach me, or what product or what company has been trying to get hold of me. Now I'm just saying "Wow, there's nobody has called", or they have called and I don't know if they have called. You know, so I'm very concerned about that.

I'm just thankful for Mr. Serré to put it all together and reaching all you people. In fact, my town is Timmins and I really appreciate the Mayor of Timmins, the way he spoke, and I think that us Northern people are pretty well a good community people and we are just trying to work together and be part of the new world out there. I mean, I don't think we should be living the way we are right now.

So these are my comments. I'm not a guy with all the papers in my hand, I pretty well have it in my heart.

Also I want to say too -- because a lot of the elderly out there, they don't seem to have the access to the phone system, like we were saying, out in the country. That concerns me a little bit, because not all the time that, you know, they can get to the hospital on time, and we know we have a tough time with the hospital as it is right now, and so, I don't know, we need this kind of communication going for each one of us here.

So I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to talk and I hope that -- like the man says too, hopefully in the near future -- I know that you have maybe some years to look at this, but we are kind of hoping that it doesn't get to be years. It would be nice if we could get it as soon as possible.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Gervais.

We thank you for coming to speak to us. You have heard other presenters, of course, talk about the problem of party-line service possibly not -- service that is not as reliable as you would like, and then enhanced or upgraded service so that such services as high-speed internet is available to you.

It's helpful to hear from you, who put it in a very familiar context, which is, as much as I like my neighbour I would rather be technologically connected to my doctor than to my neighbour. Do I put it the way you feel it is?

MR. GERVAIS: Well, in many ways. Not that I don't love my neighbour, I do. The fact is, yes, in my case it would be I would like to be connected to someone who would -- yes, because I have a health problem and it's serious. Yes. But I love my neighbours as well.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I was sure you did.

Mr. Gervais, we will be coming out with a decision in 1999 sometime. Hopefully it will be one that will -- it may not please everyone, but will work towards improving the situation and achieving the goals that you have expressed very well for us.

We thank you for your participation.

MR. GERVAIS: Thank you.


Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?


We will now go to Toronto, Maureen Cubberly, Dorothy Wilcox and Jennifer Whittall.



MS CUBBERLY (Remote): Good morning.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Ms Cubberly.

MS CUBBERLY: First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you this morning.

I am here representing an organization called Canada's Coalition for Public Information. We were founded in 1993. We are a national organization and our purpose is to provide public representation in the policy and decision-making processes that are concerning the development of the information highway in Canada. We are an incorporated not-for-profit national organization, with a membership of about 300 individuals, organizations, and public interest groups across the country.

So what I would like to talk to you about today is what we see as the importance of these hearings on that particular issue, the information highway and the fact that we believe it needs to be available across the country. We will also be submitting a written brief to you as well.

I would like to start by saying that we want to express the view that the recent developments show that we really are headed in the right direction with respect to connecting Canadians to the internet.

Through the various program commitments and continued strong budgetary allocations to Crown activity projects, the federal and provincial governments across the country, in collaboration with the industry, the I/T industry in Canada, have demonstrated their continued commitment to making sure that more and more Canadians participate in shaping this country's development and in becoming, in fact, a knowledge society.

The most recent survey I'm sure you are aware of, by Environics which was just released at the end of May, indicates that some 20 per cent of Canadian households now have access to the internet, compared to just 13 per cent last November. That is quite a phenomenal jump of over 50 per cent in less than six months. I heard, just last week, someone saying that in the U.S.A. internet use is doubling every 100 days. That phenomenon I'm sure we are going to see here as well.

That said, we should recall that these proceedings and the decisions which you will make from them will have a far greater implication for Canadians than simply deciding telephone companies obligations concerning service to rural and remote areas.

I wanted to point out at this point that the Coalition is based in Toronto. It's a national organization. We have a small part-time staff of four people, and we use the internet as our means of communicating. One of us lives in Northern Ontario, so I was most heartened to hear the response or the remarks from Mr. Orth and from the gentleman from Cochrane. These are issues that we deal with on a regular basis when the Toronto people can't quite get connected with the Northern person.

The results of these hearings we think will form a key component of the basis for determining whether the Canadian government and Canadian society in general is successful in ensuring that Canadians in rural and remote communities also share the benefits of our progress towards a knowledge society.

The Telecommunications Act has some articles are under Section 7 that are particularly relevant to this, and specifically, sections (a), (b), (f), and (h), and I just would like to remind everyone of section (a), which is:

"to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions".

Those are strong words. We believe them. We believe that that is what the Telecommunications Act should be doing, and we hope that these hearings will enforce that.

In Section (b), it says:

"to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada".

Under all circumstances, these subsections must guarantee a level of service equal to that which urban Canadians enjoy, and that is something that someone else said earlier this morning. I know it is difficult, but despite the difficulties that that poses, in as large and sparsely populated a country as Canada, we at the Coalition believe that that must happen.

Back in 1997, we wrote a policy paper where we considered the limitations imposed by our nation's geography, and it is highly unlikely that market forces alone can guarantee the equality of service that we are looking for. Some form of subsidization has to be considered to make universal, equitable access across Canada a reality.

The Commission itself recognized this in your own 1995 Report, "Competition and Culture on Canada's Information Highway," stating that:

"As competition increases, traditional approaches to achieving social goals must be rethought if the internet is to be accessible and affordable in Canada. It is unlikely that market forces by themselves will ensure that the benefits of the internet will roll out evenly to all regions of Canada or satisfy all public interest demands made on it." (As read)

This suggests that the policy objective of universal access at affordable prices will not be realized without some support, and I am here today to say that we are thoroughly in agreement with that and that we are advocating for some support.

In your Local Service Pricing Options Decision in '96, again you recognize the focus on high-cost areas, including the extension of service to under-served areas and the upgrading of existing services. And we have heard several speakers this morning talk about that.

The Coalition is extremely understanding of that. We think it is incredibly important that the party-line system be upgraded much more quickly than the year 2001, as has been presented by the telephone companies. I don't think that is soon enough, and our members don't think that is soon enough either.

The fact that those who do choose to have private lines must pay mileage charges, which can be quite prohibitive, puts the internet and all of its benefits effectively out of reach for a number of people.

That '96 Decision was followed up by an equally clear assessment in your 1997 Decision on price cap regulations as well. We do believe that the price cap regulations should be left in place for now.

Universal affordable access to the internet is a principal policy objective in the development of what we are calling a knowledge society in Canada.

Back in 1995, we started thinking about this in a report called "Future Knowledge" and discussed the fact that the rapidly developing information economy is leading to really acute changes in the very nature of how we do just about everything, and as well as opening up new opportunities for lifelong learning through distance education, allowing greater access to information on health care and government services, radically changing retailing and banking, and creating new ways of providing access to the vast collection of a lot of our cultural resources that are publicly owned and in our museums, galleries, archives, cultural centres and libraries and, more generally, in helping to reduce the distance between Canadians from coast-to-coast, creating greater possibilities for some civic networking as well.

The other thing is the whole issue of local economic development. In hearing from the gentleman earlier this morning who was representing the economic development organizations, I think that Industry Canada certainly has made some great strides with the Community Access Program in providing link-ups and establishing some internet sites in communities that would not have had them otherwise.

What has happened in a lot of those communities is that small businesses have got on the bandwagon and are starting to use the internet. This means that those businesses can stay where they are, can work where they are and, in many cases, it is even creating a future so that their children, our children, don't have to leave and go to the urban areas in order to find work.

I think that if at this point we are not going to guarantee the viability of a high-quality information technology infrastructure across this country, in rural and remote areas in particular, then we are just going to pull the rug out from underneath those businesses that have only just got started to replace their local economic base in many cases, particularly in some of the areas where the traditional economic base has been resource-based.

So I think that the importance of making sure that this doesn't happen is critical to developing local economies through developing local businesses. That is another area where the Coalition is doing a lot of work with local municipalities.

I would just like to take a moment and say that any decision that is reached by the CRTC on the issue of service to high-cost areas must be compatible with the broader policy objectives that have been stated by the government through its programs and policies, such as the Community Access Program, by Minister Manley in his recent announcement out in Newfoundland this past January of another nearly 900 sites to be hooked-up across the country through the Community Access Program, and the new Urban CAP Program as well.

Not only just Industry Minister John Manley and his particular department, but also the Departments of Industry, Heritage and the Information Highway Advisory Council -- IHAC -- and the CRTC itself have all recognized these issues. So I really do hope that the decision that is made is in keeping with the philosophy of the decisions.

The Coalition believes that all Canadians have the right to participate fully in Canadian society and democracy, and therefore do have the right to universal access to the internet and full participation in its development.

Now, on the other hand, we accept that the process of developing universal access to and participation in the development of the internet in Canada is going to be long-term and evolutionary. We do believe that, for Canadians in rural and remote areas, their rights of access and participation can be enabled through the provision of three basic principles. Those are availability, affordability and quality.

The reality is that there is an infrastructure out there that we could use right now, the wireless infrastructure that exists across most parts of the country -- not everywhere granted, but the cell phone technology that exists is there. The infrastructure is there.

What is wrong is the pricing. It is just too expensive, if you live in a remote area, to hook your cell phone up to your computer modem to get into the internet.

I know that there has been recently an announcement made by Mobility Canada and Bell Mobility for a new $60 million R&D program, and I would hope that some of that R&D is going to look into providing affordable rates for data transmission for remote areas where it is maybe not viable for them to use land-based traditional telephony systems. I would hope that the CRTC would do what it can to encourage that as another one of the alternative ways of coming at this dilemma

There is no simple, single solution, and that has been said many times as well this morning, and I think to oversimplify this would be one of the worst things we could do.

We would like to put forward a short list of what we think would be basic service. The Consumers Association of Canada I understand is also doing this, and we back them in that, and also the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Briefly then, we think that basic service should have voice-grade local service; touch tone service; single-party service; local usage covering all major public institutions serving the community, such as schools, hospitals, municipal government offices; access to toll service; local access to emergency services so that there is no long distance involved there; access to operator services, including directory assistance; access to message relay service; service for the deaf; toll-free access to internet services -- and while that situation is improving, it is still not a reality everywhere -- line quality capable of local and inter-exchange fax transmission; line quality capable of local and inter-exchange data transmission at a minimum of 28.8 kilobytes per second using a modem; connectivity with all public wire-line and wireless local and inter-exchange networks; toll-blocking 900, 976 blocking and so on; and all the features such as call display and access to those; call-waiting -- again, this relates directly not only to personal level of satisfaction with the phone service, but back to that local economic development strategy based on using the internet for small businesses in small towns.

For individual subscribers we would also include a choice of directory listing or unlisted service and an annually updated copy of the local telephone directory. To those people sitting behind me in the audience here in Toronto that might seem like a given, but once you are outside the major urban areas those things can become a wish list.

Just in conclusion, I would like to say that I want to make it clear that despite our concerns, in no way are we interested in seeing industry developments in the field of new information and communication technologies being held up. This is not a goal that is being pursued by the Coalition.

It is clear to us that market circumstances are generally having a positive impact regarding progress towards universal access in Canada. However, it is equally clear that market realities are not likely to lead to the same advantages for some Canadians, specifically those outside the urban core.

This is the issue that we hope we have addressed today. It has taken less than five years for the internet to get to 50 million users worldwide. It took three times that long for television to reach that level of penetration, and four times that long for radio.

So clearly the convergence of telephony, cable and information and communication technology is having, and will continue to have, a transformational effect on our society and on us as individuals.

It is going to be greater than that brought on by the introduction of either cable or television, and not just by the spread of its growth or the speed of its growth, but by that inherent interactive capacity. That is what makes us different and that is what gives us the potential, and that is why we are so concerned that it be there.

It is crucial that all Canadians, including those who live in rural and remote areas be given an equal opportunity to be full participants in the still unfolding and, we hope, even more rapidly developing knowledge society in this country.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Cubberly.

Commissioner Cardozo, please.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thanks very much, Ms Cubberly.

I have a couple of questions, one just in relation to your Coalition. Do I gather that it is more a consumer coalition as opposed to one that would include industry groups as well?

MS CUBBERLY: We would love it if industry would join us.

We have, in fact, some members of the electronic publishing industry, and some other information technology industries who are part of our coalition. We are very broad based.

Our goal is broad enough that we have attracted people from the public sector. A lot of libraries, some municipal governments, individuals, and indeed some of the creators of information who are interested in its dissemination in a digital way.

So to try to characterize a typical Coalition member is a bit difficult, because they come from a broad range of areas.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Is transmitting information via the internet your major area of focus, or are you looking at other forms of public participation?

MS CUBBERLY: Yes, that is our major area of focus. We don't get involved in things that are general consumer issues. Our focus is on what the internet can do and how it can do it in order to help us move forward as a society in Canada.

So we are also interested in the issues that have not been covered today, although someone did talk about privacy and a bit about intellectual freedom. These are issues that we look at in a broad sense, but we also look at the specifics, which is the content and the way of moving that content from "A" to "B" and the way that people can access it and in fact create their own content.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Earlier on in your presentations you mentioned a couple of issues, namely e-com(ph) and civic networking, and I'm wondering in those two areas whether in the issue of e-com you have looked at issues of security and concerns people have around security, use of credit cards and that kind of stuff.

MS CUBBERLY: Yes. Yes, indeed very complex issues.

One activity that the Coalition has undertaken is to try to get information out to people and give people a chance to provide us with feedback hsa been through a couple of conferences that we had. We had one in 1996 and one last year, and we called these conferences Digital Knowledge I and Digital Knowledge II. The proceedings -- I will make sure you get copies of those so you can see what people have been saying.

But in both of those conferences, yes, we have addressed those issues, the issue of privacy in particular.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Yes. Please do send us that documentation.

On the matter of civic networking, are you looking at things like democratic participation of people?


COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Are you looking that those types of issues?

MS CUBBERLY: That's right. It's an underlying philosophy, if you will, of the Coalition, that an informed citizenry is the only citizenry that can act responsibly and make decisions. So that comes down to individuals in society having access to the information they need when they need it for the purpose that they need it, whether it's educational or whether it's health care issues or whether it's information of a social nature or something that they just want for their own personal lives.

So the whole concept of civic networking is something that we see as a foundation to building not just a social network in a community, but also the economic foundation of a community.

We have seen models where communities have gotten themselves connected at a first level, connected with each other, created local web pages where all the businesses and community organizations get on-board, and immediately the level of awareness of what's going on in the community, as well the participation in the community goes up.

That also positions the community well then to move outside its own boundaries and, especially in places where the economy is struggling, to stop just trading money within the local economy, but to get into a broader market by enabling the small businesses to get on the internet and either do their niche marketing or whatever it is they do.

So it's a double thing. We don't believe that social development happens without local economic development, that the two in fact are intertwined.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I take it you are hearing these interesting sounds too. I am expecting Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock to appear suddenly.

One more question with regards to the internet infrastructure. You talked about telephone obviously, which we are talking about, and wireless, and the other is cable by the television cable.

Have you given much thought to how it would break down at the end of the day, the degree to which the internet infrastructure would be one of those three technologies of distribution?

MS CUBBERLY: I don't think it will be one of the three. I think it is going to have to be a combination of the three. So there has to be a legislative framework within which all three can operate at their maximum efficiency in the area where it is most appropriate.

I think that some wireless technologies are more appropriate for urban areas than they are for rural areas, for example the recent announcement by Minister Manley about the allocation of the -- I think it was the 24 gigahertz to N38 gigahertz bandwidth spectrum for high frequency distribution.

Now, that is something that probably -- I mean, I don't pretend to be a techno-wizard here, but my understanding is that of those frequencies of the microwave part of the spectrum you would only be able to use that with line-of-sight type technology. That might work in some rural areas, but that is probably more an urban process.

So I would think that we have to look at what is available, maybe reallocate some of the spectrum at a lower frequency that allows for more bandwidth specifically for the purpose of wireless transmission in rural and remote areas.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Thanks very much.

I could go on and on, but, as with other people who have appeared too, I have to stop at some point so we can entertain more witnesses.

Thanks very much.

MS CUBBERLY: Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Cubberly.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: Yes, Madam Chairman.

Dorothy Wilcox from Toronto.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Ms Wilcox.

MS WILCOX (Remote): Good morning.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Proceed when you are ready.

MS WILCOX: I'm here to speak to you on behalf of the people in Galway, Cavendish and Harvey Townships who do not have a phone line. I'm sure I would be very glad to have any kind of a line at the moment.

In particular I am here to speak to you about the people like myself who have homes on Pencil Lake in the Kawartha region. Our area was surveyed and installation was scheduled the year deregulation came into effect. Since that time many petitions and phone calls to Bell have been ineffective. Perhaps we should have sent them on to the CRTC as well.

I can understand Bell's position. Why should they bear the expense of installing lines when they are only allowed to charge the customer a service charge? Perhaps one way of recovering their cost would be to guarantee a five-year long distance coverage. This is a method that is currently used by the Ontario Hydro when lines are expanded to areas that are already developed.

In an age when telecommunications plays such an important role, it is hard to imagine that there are small communities and areas that have no land line. Communication is by cellular phone, which is very expensive and, at the best, very unreliable, and generally fails in times of emergencies or is not available at all.

Perhaps more research should have been put into effect before deregulation was put into effect on expansion of services.

My suggestion for one way of expanding services would be to allow Bell, or other telecommunication companies, a guarantee of a long distance coverage for five years, or a charge of one and-a-half services for five years as part of the recovery of costs.

Ontario Hydro at the moment when expanding services is allowed to charge one and-a-half services for -- I'm not sure how many years.

The lack of telecommunication affects people's lives in many ways, including the ability to find work. Telecommunication must be made available to everyone and not at the total expense of the customer.

My most recent call to Bell was a reply that it would cost $60,000 to $70,000 to extend the line. We are currently less than a mile away from the line. I think we should all have access to the telephone.

I have heard mention of the cost of the farmer reaching the vet when needed. I don't know what kind of price you place on human life when we can't reach the local fire department without making a long distance call, or the local police department without it being a long distance call. That is if we are lucky to get out on the line at all.

I thank you for allowing me to speak.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Wilcox.

If I understand you correctly, you don't have land-line phone service where you reside?

MS WILCOX: No, I don't. And the closest pay phone is five miles away.

THE CHAIRPERSON: What would be the nearest community that has land-line phone service?

MS WILCOX: The land line is a half a mile from me.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So subscribers living less than a mile away would have land line telephone?

MS WILCOX: Correct.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Ms Wilcox, is it your view that the subscribers like you, and in the area where you live, would be prepared to pay a certain amount of the cost of providing service?

MS WILCOX: I think within a reasonable amount, yes.

Currently my phone bill is between $600 and $800 a month, and that is for a very poor service. That is for cellular. My phone call to my mother who lives next door is long distance because the closest tower is not in our area.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So it would be your view that cellular service is not a substitute for land-line service because of the cost, and I think I hear you say because of the less reliable quality, possibly, of over-the-air service.

MS WILCOX: Both of those. Generally, if you are lucky, you can access the service nine out of 10 times. That is if you are really lucky. In the winter it is probably about 10 per cent of the time.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Ms Wilcox, I don't know if you will be here all day, but representatives from Bell Canada are here and they may have something to say about your particular region. As you know, there are various ways of subsidizing or covering the front costs of extending service to areas that are not served.

You are not the first one during our regional consultations who have made the point that the first priority should be to ensure that each Canadian has reliable service at affordable cost, which is often lower, obviously, than what cellular phone service costs.

We thank you for making this presentation, and rest assured that your comments will be taken into consideration when we wrestle with the problems that are before us.

Thank you, Ms Wilcox.

MS WILCOX: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?


Jennifer Whittall from Toronto.



MR. MADDOCK (Remote): My name is Doug Maddock. I represent the Bancroft and Area Communications Task Force this morning.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Maddock.

The video-conference lines are good enough that we knew you were not Ms Whittall, but good morning to you.

MR. MADDOCK: Thank you.

Recently it was announced by Industry Canada, Minister Manley, that he wanted to make Canada the most wired country on earth by the Year 2000. Bell Canada has made promises that by the year 2001 all of Ontario and Quebec will have access to high-quality telephone service.

Competition has now been introduced into the local telephone markets which up until now existed as a monopoly for Bell Canada. With less than two years to the new century in the Bancroft area we are experiencing difficulty obtaining even the most basic of telephone service. High-speed ISDN data lines are but a dream. Many individuals cannot get a telephone line at all. Others are on multiple party lines, eliminating their ability to make use of the internet or answering machine, et cetera.

Citizens in the Town of Bancroft are not able to get additional lines. Parts of our area are to benefit from a 9-1-1 service, however that too may not be possible due to a lack of proper telephone line facilities.

Before a competitive environment can be established in the rural high-cost service areas, it would appear that an acceptable standard of service must be established. This would ensure that all potential customers have equal access to service for equal payment of service.

Once a standard has been established the necessary telephone infrastructure can be developed and implemented and this must be done sooner rather than later. Given the rapid advances in communication, information and technology, rural areas are quickly being left behind while paying for services and access only utilized by more cost-efficient, revenue-producing areas.

Here in an area of high unemployment access to telephone services similar to more urban regions would allow us the opportunity to compete in this global economy so home-style businesses could attract work from outside the area provided acceptable means of communication are available.

As a community we are growing increasingly concerned that Bell Canada recognizes our area as an area of little or no profit potential and thus improving our local telephone infrastructure is not a Bell Canada priority. Indeed, it is rumoured that if Bell Canada keeps the infrastructure in our area below standard that competing telephone companies in the local market will not be able to or wish to offer their services in this area.

Inquiries to Bell Canada have not provided answers other than improvements are coming. Many Bell customer's inquiries are met with a variety of excuses. Bell Canada often uses the term "embargo" when referring to the limited number of lines in the area.

We as a community have organized a committee, the Bancroft and Area Communication Task Force, comprised of local businesses and organizations. The task force has determined that the local phone system is lacking in both service and quality. It was determined that a community needs survey would specifically identify these limitations. The results are now in, and while they have not been completely compiled they are unmistakable.

The telephone service in this area is poor at best. Sixty per cent indicated problems with line quality; 33 per cent indicated that the basic or additional service was either not available or installation costs were too high; 33 per cent were interested in obtaining additional services if they were available; 25 per cent are still on a party line. Less than 4 per cent were satisfied with their service.

Many are concerned that in the event of an emergency they would be unable to contact assistance. Many also complained that although they had been on a waiting list for a private line, new neighbours were often provided the service ahead of them.

Many who responded to the survey also took the time to include their own personal comments on the situation, and if you will just bear with me for a few seconds I will read a couple.

"January 1997 Bell Canada raised the rates of customers by $4 per month, with this money to be used specifically for upgrading services to all of their customers. At that time I felt that rural customers were being shafted as we were being forced to pay in advance for upgrading our services, while people in the metropolitan areas had these services for years and only paid for them when they decided to make use of them, i.e., call display, call conferencing, etc. Today, the over 4,000 customers in the Bancroft area have contributed over $25,000 to upgrading this program but have received no increased capability. What have they done with our money? Well, let them us that money to upgrade our services." (As read)

Another comment:

"I should also tell you that I corresponded with Bell last year trying to determine when Simpatico was available in our area. What a joke that was. They at one point told me that the roll-out of the service was `secret' -- believe me, that's the word they used -- and I got absolutely nowhere with them in determining availability of this service.

I also sent a copy of my letter to the CRTC, who did not even bother to respond to me. So much for the government." (As read)

Another one:

"Good luck with your survey. Any attempts at pinning Ma Bell down to service improvements. We may all be too old to use the services by the time they finally get there.

Costs went up 135 per cent in 18 months, from $5.30 to $12.42, plus we are forced to use the phones at additional cost per month which equals the same as others paying for private line. When do we get what we are paying for?

We have been asking for a private line for over five years and I think it is time Bell attended to this matter. I have been asking for a private line for two and-a-half years. No private lines means no home-based businesses in our area where self-employment is one of the few options.

9-1-1 isn't sufficient when on a party line. If I can't vocalize my need, how will paramedics find me? I'm on a four-way party line.

When I built my house in the fall of '94 and put in a pole line, Bell said there were no private lines, but people all around me since that time have gotten private lines.

My property is serviced by utilities via two underwater cables, the first was installed by Hydro 15 years and the second by Bell 7 years ago. The hydro cable, which cost us less than $50 a month supplies heat and light to our home, refrigerates and cooks our food and had more than sufficient capacity to allow an addition to build onto our house three years ago. The Bell cable, on the other hand, at the cost of $25 a month allows telephone contact to friends and services in the small Apsley(ph) area, but little else. Bell's rates continue to climb significantly each year, but basic Bell services are not made available to us.

We have requested call answer alternatively and additional lines to no avail. The Bell service, although just seven years old, does not have sufficient capacity to meet the current needs and demands of the customers, not to mention future growth.

But as Chairman for the local Dog Pound Board I can't believe that a private line is not available for the Pound. We cannot use an answering machine with the present party line. It is hard to let our clients know our hours of operation.

One long-term resident of the area contacted the task force with a story of attempts to get a phone line to her residence. For the last 17 years she has had numerous conversations and correspondence with Bell Canada. She has contacted her parliamentary member, local council and the CRTC in the attempts to get a phone line. In 1990 Bell Canada explained to her that `there is a great deal of construction work required to bring telephone lines into the McGarry(ph) Flats and due to this major construction requirement we are not prepared to quote construction charges to you at this time.' Bell Canada indicated that they were anticipating a change which may allow Bell to reinforce the system in 1992.

In 1993 two Bell area managers visited the area to access Bell's ability to provide service. Reporting their findings the manager indicated that the individual seems to live in a relatively remote area, there are few residences and little expected growth. Bell Canada's cost to provide service is quoted as $80,000 which they are not prepared to spend with only two applications for service.

Finally, a construction charge of $4,100 was put forth to the residents and the indication that this charge could be reduced if there were more applications for service in the area. Nine applications would eliminate the construction cost.

The manager concluded, `I realize it is difficult to exist in this day and age without telephone service, however the cost to extend telephone service to anywhere customers choose to live is prohibitive.' (As read)

The frustration and costs in getting phone service can be very high for some individuals. Many party line customers wait for years for a private line. Local real estate agents recommend that potential buyers specifically inquire as to a property's existing and potential phone service prior to purchasing in the area.

Bancroft is located in central Ontario only two and-a-half hours from Ottawa and less than three hours from Toronto. The community enjoys a rural, small-town lifestyle with access to services equal to that of their more urban counterparts. One area where access to service is severely lacking is that offered by Bell Canada. To achieve a truly competitive market there is a pressing need for the establishment of a standard of service.

While we recognize that providing service in some areas is most costly than others, "rural" should not automatically mean "isolated" or "remote". Yes, Bancroft and area is rural, but if a resident has hydro and year-round access which rely on services, it is reasonable to assume that residents should also have access to a reliable and high standard of telecommunications.

It will be up to the engineers and technicians as to how best to provide this service. We are not asking for something better than anyone else, we are simply requesting equal service now so that rural Canadians can complete on a level playing field with their urban counterparts.

Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Maddock.

Since you are not Jennifer, may I ask you to spell your last name, please?


THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Maddock.

Commissioner Cardozo.


First, Mr. Maddock, excuse my ignorance, and I should know this, but give us a geographic sketch of where Bancroft is, perhaps in relation to Toronto.

MR. MADDOCK: About an hour north of Peterborough.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: What is the nature of the area in terms of small town, rural farming, et cetera?

MR. MADDOCK: It's a mixture of farming, forestry, tourism. It has a very -- I will say rough terrain, which may cause some of the problems with installation of phone lines or land lines.


With regards to your task force, can you give us a little information about it, who it is made up of and the general objectives? Is this one of the main issues, dealing with access to telephone service?

MR. MADDOCK: This is one of the main issues. We formed this committee starting, I guess, last fall. It involves the Bancroft area Chamber of Commerce, myself and two local internet service providers, both of -- all of us making fairly good use, or attempting good use of the local telephone system.


The issues you have given us are fairly detailed and I think give us a lot of information.

I would just like to let you know that the proceedings are all on the record, there will be transcripts prepared from them, so everything you have said is on the record and, as you may know, you can also submit a written brief by the end of January if you choose.

But I think that what you have said is fairly detailed and gives us a lot of information about your concerns.

So thanks very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Maddock.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Next we will go to Ottawa. We will hear from Jennifer Whitmell, Michael Jennings, Étienne Saumure.

After that we will break for lunch and resume from the Timmins area.



MS WHITMELL (Remote): Vicki Whitmell, representing the Canadian Library Association.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.

MS WHITMELL: First of all, I would like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to speak on behalf of Canada's libraries. We have also submitted a written brief which provides greater detail than what I will mention this morning.

The Canadian Library Association was founded in 1946. It is a national Association dedicated to providing leadership in library and information services in Canada for the benefit of Association members, the profession and Canadian society. Its membership comprises personal and institutional members from public, school, university, college, business and government libraries, as well as commercial members from the information industry.

Libraries, especially public libraries, have a historical commitment to providing full and equal access to the greatest range of information and recreational material without censorship.

Libraries throughout Canada recognize that important information is increasingly available only through the internet in electronic form. As a result, the CLA's information and telecommunication access principles which were developed in 1993 recognize the changed information environment and extend our philosophical and service principles to the new electronic environment.

Much is made of the importance of a highly educated and well-informed labour force as the mainspring to economic well-being. Librarians are concerned that the cost of providing internet access to libraries and individuals in remote areas is creating second-class information citizens.

Information, particularly government and job-related information, is increasingly available only in electronic form. Even if it is available in print form, individuals who have accessed electronically have a distinct time advantage over those who have to wait for print copies to arrive.

The internet, especially in combination with libraries, provides important resources for self-education and job training.

In addition to economic benefits librarians also recognize that access to information and knowledge enriches personal lives and allows active participation in democratic discussion.

The reality is, however, that many rural libraries have minimal internet access and are forced to charge their users for internet access -- for internet use because of high telecommunications charges, especially long distance charges to an internet node.

Libraries may charge as little as $1 or $2 an hour, but as much as $20 in the very isolated situations. This clearly acts as a disincentive to equitable access.

Federal government programs such as the Community Access Program, SchoolNet, or provincial government programs provide start-up capital funding but no sustaining funds that would cover telecommunication costs.

The issues related to high-cost serving areas are outlined. First of all, CLA supports the submissions by the British Columbia Public Interest Advocacy Centre on the criteria for establishing high-cost service areas. We quote:

"Thus, broadly speaking, a high-cost serving area should be defined as any area where the cost of service is an obstacle to competition, i.e., where the cost of service exceeds the prevailing urban rate.

Ultimately, the market itself, as indicated by the spread of competition and local service, is the best indicator. The market will tend to identify high-cost serving areas spontaneously by avoiding them. Thus, on an operational level high-cost servicing areas could be defined as those areas where local telephone service remains monopolistic after the roll-out of local competition." (As read)

The Government of Saskatchewan brief has a more detailed formula which is consistent with the overall concerns of the Canadian Library Association.

Most high-cost serving areas, especially the very high-cost serving areas, will remain under monopoly service, and those provided will be initially designated as providers of last resort.

The Commission must assure that the monopoly providers maintain their rural upgrade programs and enforce quality of service standards. Providers must provide service to all customers in a given exchange in order to be eligible for any subsidy payments.

In the continued monopoly environment, monopoly providers should be required to offer the basic local service package to all requesting customers.

CLA outlines in our brief the services which it considers to be part of a basic local service package which should be funded from a high-cost service fund, while at the same time recognizing that both technological innovation and social demand will alter and expand the mix in the future.

The basic local service package should be reviewed biannually, and those services which have a 65 per cent penetration rate throughout the population should be added to the basic package.

CLA emphasizes the importance of toll free access to internet services for providing access to the benefits of the information resources on the internet, either through the local library or through home access.

The high-cost service fund should be expanded to be a universal access fund. Substantial telecommunication discounts for important community institutions such as libraries and schools should also be funded out of the universal access fund to assure a minimal level of access to the local communities. This would be similar to the U.S. universal access fund.

Without the discounts, which could be as high as 90 per cent and include not just the ongoing line charges but the initial cost for modems, routers, hubs and other telecommunication equipment, libraries will be unable to continue to fund their traditional services or to introduce new electronic services.

The discounts are necessary to avoid unduly burdening libraries and schools by shifting their budget to traditional services to maintaining telecommunication networks. The U.S. universal access fund is an excellent model for this necessary support.

There is no evidence that the provision of telecommunication access will replace librarians. Rather, it will increase access to information and expand the role of the librarian in educating users, ensure strategies in accessing the quality, currency and appropriateness of the information that is required.

CLA also supports using the universal access fund to provide a minimal level of support to the community network as another mechanism for providing access to users who cannot afford existing commercial services.

Community networks, along with libraries, have played an important role in introducing the internet and its information and telecommunication capabilities to the public.

Again, CLA supports the creation of a universal service fund on a national level from funds generated from all telecommunication cable and internet providers. The fund must be national.

Since telecommunications policies in the federal arena, universal access is a telecommunications national policy instrument and can best be achieved with the largest population base.

The funds thus generated will be distributed to those providers in high-cost service areas where the costs of providing telecommunications service exceeds the ability to generate income -- generate revenue.

CLA does not have a position on whether the contribution charge should be levelled against the gross or net revenues, but notes that a charge against net revenues is more likely to increase the contributions from corporations which, for the sake of the highest profits, are creaming the most lucrative markets.

That ends my presentation.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Whitmell.

Does the Canadian Library Association have close links with library associations that are more regional or maybe provincial?

MS WHITMELL: Yes, we do. What we don't have -- while the local organizations or the provincial organizations are not part of CLA, many of their members are and we have a great number of partnerships in providing education, workshops and in working together on areas such as this.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I was personally in northern Alberta and northern Saskatchewan last week, and you may be aware we had numerous, as many as I think five presentations from library associations or library groups in those provinces, so we are well versed now with the limitations of the cost of using to the utmost the technological means that are now available to increase coverage and your ability to serve, but we thank you for giving us your overview today as well.

MS WHITMELL: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Whitmell.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Michael Jennings from Ottawa.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Jennings.

MR. JENNINGS (Remote): Good morning, Madam Chairman.

Thank you very much for the opportunity of speaking here today.

My neighbour, good neighbour Dr. Harris Low, is accompanying me, and we have hopefully a short presentation for you because I am sure we will probably be covering some of the subjects that have already been covered in the past.

Bear with me. Again, my name is Michael Jennings.

First of all, I represent the Deer Park community, which is a small community approximately 25 homes and seasonal residences, and we are approximately 20 minutes north of Kingston, Ontario.

First of all I would like to state that our community of 25 people are not an isolated community, as some people would suggest. Indeed, we are clearly situation in the middle of what is called the Golden Triangle, and that is the area approximately one and-a-half hours from Ottawa, two and-a-half hours from Montreal, and two hours from Toronto.

The Deer Park community is only 20 minutes north of one of the oldest cities in Canada, namely Kingston, Ontario, with a population of over 100,000 people.

The Deer Park community first opened in 1989 and presenting consists of 14 full time and 11 seasonal residents. These people include many medical and legal professionals, blue-collar workers, businesspersons, teachers, children and retired people.

Further, basic telephone service is and has been enjoyed for years by residences and small businesses in every direction immediately surrounding our community.

Indeed, when most of us first considered moving into this area telephone services were verbally promised to us by Bell staff and sales staff and engineers and including township representatives. This service was expected to be installed as soon as the number of households exceeded five, and then it was changed to 10 and, of course, later again it was changed to 12.

Since 1989 different members of our community have written in excess of 55 letters to various levels of Bell Canada, the CRTC, elected township and federal and provincial numbers, emergency service personnel and the media, all expressing and seeking support for our desire for basic telephone service.

Throughout this past 10-year struggle we have been given promises, both verbally and in writing, we have been given encouragement that phone service will be available soon and, unfortunately, most often we have just been ignored.

What our community, as well as many, many other communities in a similar situation have suffered, is that we have been the pawns, the pawns that are being played by big business such as Bell, and by big government bureaucracies such as the CRTC. We feel that we have literally been held hostage by Bell Canada and the CRTC. Small communities such as ours have been caught in the middle because Bell, through deregulation, is no longer the sole provider of service.

Donna Dickinson in fact was quoted in the Heritage newspaper on March 31st, 1998 -- Donna Dickinson is with the Office of the Vice-President of Bell Canada -- and she is quoted as saying that:

"The company isn't prepared to service any area of small communities such as yours at this time, and Bell isn't prepared to carry any of the costs." (As read)

She says:

"What it has come down to is whose responsibility is it to install the service when Bell is no longer the only sole provider." (As read)

Well, I suggest it is Bell's responsibility, and the reason why is through the many, many tax breaks, subsidies and rate increases that they have enjoyed over the past few years.

While profit seems to be the primary goal of Bell Canada, the controls and regulations of the CRTC have had little or no effect on influencing, directing, or even encouraging Bell Canada to provide service to those customers who already have nothing.

Indeed, does anyone truly believe that the CRTC can in any way tell Bell exactly what to do? As the kids say, I think not.

Our community has asked Bell to provide service first to those people who have no phones before they spend millions of dollars upgrading and improving service for communities that already enjoy basic service.

Bell Canada does have a responsibility to their shareholders and, according to their 1997 annual report last year, enjoyed a profit of over $801 million, on top of record profits made during 1996.

Further, in early March of this year -- March 6th I believe -- Bell Canada was given approval by the CRTC to again raise their monthly rates, which once fully implemented would give Bell an additional $220 million to subsidize their long distance service charges that were lost to Sprint and AT&T.

When given this rate increase approval Bell spokespersons were quoted as saying that they intend to use these subsidies to upgrade service to rural communities. Well, the Deer Park community north of Kingston is one of those rural communities and we would ask Bell just when they intend to provide us with that service.

Unfortunately, Madam Chairman, the delay game continues, again with Bell now apparently taking the position that since they have lost their monopoly to provide service, why should they provide service to small communities now that competition such as Sprint are permitted to provide service in this area.

Obviously Sprint and AT&T and those other companies are not going to provide service to small communities such as ours, and again we get caught in the middle with no service.

So if Bell won't provide service to small communities such as ours, and AT&T won't and Sprint won't, just who will? And just what can we do about it?

In 1993 Ontario Hydro installed a total of 76 telephone poles leading into our community to provide service to our 25 homes. They had to drill holes, they had to dynamite, they had to clear trees, they had to build cribs, and according to Hydro engineers their total cost came to $83,000.

Our community has asked Bell to install what is known as NES wire, or the black phone cable lines to our community by simply hitching up those lines to already existing hydro poles. We were told that our cost would probably be around $120,000. We find it awful difficult why and how Hydro can put all this -- do all this work for $83,000 and Bell is quoting us an outrageous figure of $120,000.

We are further asking Bell to provide us with service by connecting us to the 17 remaining vacant lines that are available on the Harrowsmith and the Verona exchanges, because our community is only .05 kilometres -- .05 kilometres north of already existing fixed-wire telephone lines.

Bell, of course, refuses to provide, and has refused to provide this service to us, claiming that they would have to upgrade their router equipment. If only 17 lines are available, was Bell not going to provide new service to any other new construction in the Verona, Sydenham and Harrowsmith communities?

I think South Frontenac Township can attest to the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, of construction permits are issued each year in these communities. Bell Canada surely is not suggesting that our small community alone be asked to pay for and upgrade the entire service for the entire township, and basically that is exactly what they are asking us to do.

What has become even more and more obvious is that Bell doesn't want to set a precedent and provide service to us, which somehow obligates them to provide service to those many, many other small communities in a similar situation.

We feel we are too valuable a tool to use in Bell's fight to get "subsidized". This is very, very frustrating for us in the Deer Park community, and to many of those other small communities that you have heard from this morning.

Our community could very well have been inexpensively connected to service probably within a few days, and could have been done so many times over the last five to 10 years.

Bell continues, however, the delay game, stating expenses of anywhere from $120,000 to $150,000. We challenge Bell to prove -- to show us how these expenses come to $120,000 to $150,000, because we think their figure is absurd.

As a community we -- Bell just recently provided service to a customer .05 kilometres south of us who is in exactly the same grid pattern, grid exchange pattern as our community. How can Bell provide service to one and ignore 25 only a half a kilometre away?

Further, we understand that the Bell Canada Act provides that everyone is entitled by law to 165 metres of free wire service. With approximately 25 homes in our community requesting service, we would be entitled to almost 4,000 metres of wire, and we understand the installation is free.

However, now we are told that no, we are not going to get service. We may get fixed wireless service at a cost of approximately $3,000 per household. Somehow this doesn't sit right with me. It seems like gouging in some way.

We are asking -- all that our community is asking for is the same as most other communities. We are asking for basic telephone service, something no longer considered a luxury and is enjoyed presently by all our neighbours in every direction in South Frontenac Township.

We have met with Bell representatives and, as a matter of fact, we met with them on the 4th of May, and they have explained that we may be eligible -- may be eligible for fixed wireless service in our community for around $3,000. We have been waiting for a month now, even though engineers have been in a year ago and two years ago and told us that we were not eligible for fixed wire service at this time. Now, two years later, suddenly we are, or possibly we are. But just when is this service going to come to our community? We don't know. We haven't been told. We still wait.

So self-service of course, like many other rural communities, is very, very unreliable because of the topography of the area, and when it does occasionally work costs are in excess of $300 to $400 a month per household to use cell phones. Of course, cell phones are absolutely useful in the 9-1-1 emergency service area.

We feel that we have been purposely delayed because Bell perhaps may be making more money from the so-called toys than they do from long distance service. As a matter of fact, their own 1998 annual report states that Bell calling cards and cellular service and call waiting and call forwarding made more money for Bell than long distance service. So we feel that perhaps we are being purposely delayed knowing that our community is forced to use Bell calling cards and Bell cellular phones.

In closing, I would like to make a quote -- I think this was quoted a little earlier -- from the 1997 Bell Canada Annual Report, where the Chairman of Bell, Mr. L.R. Wilson, states that:

"Bell Canada and the Canadian government have committed themselves to making the information and knowledge infrastructure accessible to all Canadians by the Year 2000, making Canadians one of the most connected nations in the world." (As read)

After being put off and delayed by Bell for almost 10 years, I now hold Mr. Wilson and Bell Canada to their word.

Further, the federal government that oversees the CRTC must also live up to their responsibility and pressure Bell to first provide service to those communities that have no telephone service before they start adding fancy toys to communities that already enjoy phones.

In closing, there is one thing that Mr. Harris Low has wanted to add, and I hope you take just a short, brief submission by Mr. Harris Low.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You are welcome, Dr. Low.

DR. LOW (Remote): Just very quickly perhaps to summarize our position.

I think it's important to understand, we live in an area that five years or more ago would have received telephones, at least basic telephone service at no capital cost. People just across the lake from us received such service without even asking for Bell to put that service in.

The changes in the regulations approved by the CRTC, supposedly through increased competition and presumably lower cost, have in fact lowered long distance costs -- I suppose, although we don't have access to that -- but there have been substantial increases in the local service rates and effectively those changes have made local service unavailable, any form of service unavailable to areas such as ours, and we don't consider ourselves either particularly remote.

I think as a minimum the CRTC should be establishing a priority to provide at least some form of local service, I mean even party line service, before they upgrade other services.

It was really frustrating a year ago to read in The Star newspaper that in fact Bell was wiring -- upgrading the service in Muskoka so everybody could be -- cottage country in Muskoka so that everybody could be hooked into the internet from their cottages, and at the same time areas such as ours cannot even receive any form of local service at all.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Dr. Low.

Commissioner Cardoza.

MR. JENNINGS: Our community has even requested from the CRTC and Bell Canada, and we would be willing to sign limited contracts to remain with Bell rather than jump to Sprint or AT&T later if they would provide us service. We understand that the CRTC prohibits them by law from introducing such a contract, but we might request that you may want to reconsider such a proposal.

We understand that Bell is not out here to lose money, we understand that, but at the same time there is an obligation and an onus to provide service to small communities that do not have anything.

Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Jennings.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Jennings and Dr. Low.

Just to locate your community, I take it it is near Hartington?

MR. JENNINGS: That's correct, Hartington, Ontario, which is 20 minutes north of Kingston.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: You have been built up primarily in the last few years?

MR. JENNINGS: In 1989 our community first opened.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: How do you get on a telephone? I don't know how to pose the question. But when you want to get on a phone, what do you do?

MR. JENNINGS: We have cell phones that we have to get in our car and drive around the community to find a strong enough signal to use it.

Other than that, we have to drive approximately six miles -- five to six miles to the nearest pay phone.

And, of course, we have already had some people injured in our community where we tried to get, you know, an ambulance and emergency personnel.

Just two weeks ago we had a fairly serious fire and we literally drove around and ran around like crazy trying to find a signal to get the fire department to come in.

Fortunately, everything worked out in those two instances, but it's dangerous and it's totally ridiculous and we feel that Bell just isn't being fair and we are seeking the CRTC's help through these Commission hearings today.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: You said that before you started building the community you had a verbal commitment from Bell that they would put telephone in?

MR. JENNINGS: Yes. As a matter of fact, Mr. Don Blugh(ph) from Ontario Hydro was being forced in writing to provide service to our community by Bell Telephone, and that is what Mr. Blue advises me. I appreciate it is hearsay, but Mr. Blue is a senior executive of Hydro Ontario on Division Street north of Kingston, and they, Hydro was being pushed by Bell to install their hydro poles so that Bell could provide service.

Then, of course, simultaneously around that time deregulation came in with respect to long distance services, and at that time, boom, everything came to an abrupt halt and communities -- our community and many communities such as ours were just, boom, delayed. The delay game started.


I appreciate greatly the detail that you have outlined for us today and everything you have said is on the record and part of the transcript.

As you may know, Bell will have the opportunity at the end of today to speak to any of the things that have been raised, so they may address it at that time. But in the meantime, or after, feel free to provide us with any more of this information, background.

If you wish to get a copy of the transcript, or at least that part of it, I'm sure we can help you if you want to hear what Bell has to say about your particular situation if they comment on it at the end of the day.

I will just mention in passing that you get the dubious prize of being the only witness so far to say they would be happy if they even had a party line. Most people want to move from a party to an individual line, so you are awarded that prize today.

Thanks very much for coming, it has been very helpful.

MR. JENNINGS: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Jennings, Dr. Low.

MR. JENNINGS: We will take it.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, Madame la présidente. La prochaine personne c'est M. Étienne Saumure de Ottawa.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Saumure.

M. SAUMURE (Remote): Bonjour, Madame.

Je vais faire une petite correction. Je viens de Gatineau. Et je remercie Bell Canada ou je le sais pas qui, qui peut m'avoir indiqué ça, "Lifesaver". Je pense que vous pourriez sauver notre vie si on avait le téléphone.

Moi, je suis une personne qui est déjà une victime du sang contaminé. Je ne viens pas ici pour parler de ça, mais je me sens contaminé une deuxième fois parce que nous avons pas le téléphone à la résidence familiale d'été au Lac Lytton.

Je parle au nom de la Municipalité du Lac Lytton, passée Maniwaki. Nous sommes très près... pour vous aider peut-être à placer la place, nous sommes rattachés avec le Parc de la Vérendrye, là où il y a beaucoup de chasse et pêche et des feux de forêts, alors que si nous avions le téléphone, peut-être que nous pourrions sauver des feux, des vies et rendre des gens qui demeurent là permanents très heureux.

Moi je sais qu'il y a des familles au Lac Lytton, pour qui c'est leur résidence principale. Ils ont des enfants qui grandissent, de 0 à 15 ans, et on a eu, l'année passée, une urgence très grave... je ne veux pas tout répéter ça pour allonger le discours. Si nous avions eu le téléphone, je suis sûr que cette personne-là vivrait aujourd'hui.

Nous avons même eu une intervention avec la Radio TVA, il y a deux ans, pour avoir des témoins comme quoi que le téléphone n'est pas là et que c'est très nécessaire d'avoir un téléphone à cet endroit, pour protéger l'environnement, la faune, les enfants qui vont à l'école. On a une autobus scolaire qui vient chercher les enfants. Une fois, elle s'est virée à l'envers. Je sais pas comment la catastrophe pourrait se rendre.

Depuis les années 1984, je pense que Bell Canada nous promet qu'on va nous donner le téléphone. On a fait des écritures. On a eu des interventions. C'est toujours une promesse qui arrive à zéro.

Alors, je m'inquiète, moi, comme un homme malade moi-même qui aimerait passer le restant de la vie qui me reste à vivre, parce que je sais que ma vie va être très raccourcie, vue la condition que je vous ai mentionnée en tout début.

Je peux vous dire que nous avons des chasseurs qui viennent là. C'est un endroit très spécifique pour la chasse à l'orignal. Alors, on a vu des accidents, des problèmes graves dans la forêt, puis on s'est arrêté à notre chalet familial pour demander de l'aide. Il y a des certains... Bell Mobilité ou cellulaires qui fonctionnent une fois sur 500 000.

Alors, c'est incroyable, vous savez, que en 1998, nous ne sommes pas servis avec Bell Canada que nous aimons beaucoup. Je sais qu'il y a des compétiteurs qui essayent de dire: ah bien, on peut vous servir avec le téléphone. Je n'ai pas trop confiance.

Moi, j'ai confiance à Bell Canada parce que je sais que Bell Canada est une compagnie fiable et riche. Ils ont des recettes assez raisonnables, que je viens d'entendre, il y a quelques minutes. Je pense que ça ne va pas coûter 1 million ou 300 000 $... peut-être 300 000 $, je le sais pas.

En tout les cas, de les résidences premières ou principales, je pense que c'est six kilomètres qu'ils devraient tirer un câble... ou je ne connais pas... Je ne suis pas un ingénieur, mais je sais que dans la construction, moi-même j'étais un constructeur de maison dans ma vie, dans le passé, et je sais que nous avons l'électricité et tout est prêt.

Même, les résidents de ces endroits-là sont prêts à donner un coup de main, si on peut dire, une aide gratuitement pour tirer le câble ou enlever des arbustes s'ils sont dans les jambes, ou défricher s'il le faut, à nos frais un peu, ou participer d'une façon raisonnable pour que ça rende la vie plus facile à Bell de nous apporter le téléphone.

Il y a un téléphone à six kilomètres, comme je vous dis, mais toujours aller déranger ces gens-là qui ont le téléphone, je pense que c'est des gens à leur retraite et je pense que ce n'est pas raisonnable d'arriver là à 3 h la nuit ou 4 h du matin, puis les réveiller, puis les inquiéter. Alors, je pense que, comme les deux personnes qu'il y avait ici avant moi, ils ont bien expliqué leur chose.

S'il y a un accident là-bas, la sécurité est zéro. Pour protéger un feu de forêt, la sécurité est zéro, alors que si le feu prenait, disons, dans le secteur où je vous parle du Lac Lytton, ça pourrait amener des vents à brûler Grand-Remous, Montcerf, Bois-Franc, peut-être amené un feu à la ville de Maniwaki ou monter vers le nord où on a déjà des problèmes dans le coin de Parent.

Alors, il faut en conserver de ces forêts-là pour la future génération qui pousse, parce que si un jour on n'a plus de forêt, bien on n'aura plus de végétation, on n'aura plus de vie.

Je peux rajouter ici que un accident de chasse... comme j'ai dit tout à l'heure, je connais quelqu'un qui serait en vie aujourd'hui si on avait eu le temps. On a été au téléphone le plus proche; la madame était pas là. Il a fallu se rendre à Montcerf qui est 15 kilomètres de la résidence d'été de la famille des Saumure. Et les autres personnes... il y a une dame qui a perdu son mari l'année passée, qui vit seule, très inquiète de voir qu'elle n'a pas de téléphone.

Je ne sais pas pour quelle raison qu'on n'arrive pas à dire, oui, on va vous le donner. On nous le promet, on nous le promet. Mais Bell Canada ce n'est pas des politiciens. On dit que les politiciens font des promesses qu'ils ne tiennent pas, mais Bell Canada est plus fort que ça. Il fait des promesses. Je suis sûr qu'ils vont nous le donner le téléphone. Je suis rassuré de ça.

Je parle au nom de la municipalité de Lytton parce que ils ne pouvaient pas se rendre. Moi j'avais le temps. Je demeure à Gatineau, mais si j'avais le téléphone, je vous garantis que je serais à la résidence familiale d'été, qui est un paradis terrestre sur terre, au Lac Lytton. Il y a de la truite... Je vous l'annonce. Si vous avez le goût de venir, il y a de la belle truite grise là. Il y a du doré. Vous avez la chasse, vous avez la pêche, vous avez la tranquillité. C'est une des belles places en Amérique du nord. Alors, je ne sais pas pourquoi on nous répond toujours négativement. Je le comprends pas.

J'aimerais recevoir, moi, du courrier s'il y avait possibilité, au nom de la municipalité de Lytton, province de Québec. Je regrette, je n'ai pas le code postal avec moi. Je suis sûr qu'on pourrait garantir la sécurité de nos enfants qui viennent en vacances bientôt.

L'année passée, on a eu un accident. On a dû, nous, les gens du secteur, s'occuper de ça nous-mêmes, mais nous ne travaillons pas pour la police. Je ne fais pas la police, moi. Je voudrais simplement qu'on ait la sécurité et qu'on puisse venir à remplir les promesses de Bell Canada, qu'ils nous font depuis si longtemps.

M. Bell Canada, on vous aime. On sait que vous avez des profits à faire. Vous les avez faits. Il vous en reste sûrement pour en séparer un petit peu à tout le monde qui est venu ici ce matin. Je suis dépassé, moi, de voir qu'il y a des gens de Timmins... d'ailleurs, j'ai pris des notes.

Vraiment, je suis très, très touché d'un homme de mon âge qui a 58 ans... j'ai l'air d'un homme de 80, avec mes cheveux blancs et ma peau abîmée parce qu'on m'a contaminé par le sang. Et je me sens contaminé de ne pas avoir un téléphone dans le chalet, là où nous aimerions passer les étés au complet, et même de vivre là jusqu'à la fin de mes années qu'il me reste à vivre. Peut-être qu'il me reste un an, deux ans, trois ans, peut-être trois mois, je ne sais pas.

Mais au nom de tous les gens qui ont parlé ici, je félicite ces personnes qui demandent à Bell Canada de s'ouvrir les yeux parce que... aussi, à CRTC, s'il vous plaît, vous êtes capable de pousser et ne pas laisser d'autres compagnies que Bell Canada à venir installer peut-être des téléphones qui seront de travers ou qui auraient un problème aussi grave que Bell Mobilité.

Alors, je veux remercier ce monsieur. J'aurais dû le faire avant. Je vais répéter ça ici, madame la Chairman, en anglais; en français, on va dire la directrice peut-être ou les directeurs, la direction de CRTC. Et je remercie aussi sûrement... que Bell Canada est à ma gauche ou à ma droite ou en avant, s'il vous plaît, je vous supplie, laissez-nous avoir le téléphone.

Nous voulons payer un prix raisonnable et un prix qui est possible d'être payé, et je suis sûr qu'on est là pour défricher en avant de vous les arbres qui sont dans les jambes. On connaît des gens qui se sont offerts, des gens qui travaillent dans la forêt, qui sont équipés. Ils ont des scies mécaniques. Il y en a qui ont des garettes(ph). On offre un service gratuitement, je le dis publiquement.

Si vous avez des questions, j'aimerais vous répondre.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci, M. Saumure.

M. Saumure, au Lac Lytton, il y a combien de résidences principales? Combien de gens sont là, à l'année?

M. SAUMURE: Dans le moment, il y en aurait 18. Mais à l'heure actuelle, je peux dire qu'il y en a deux, trois, quatre, six, peut-être un dizaine-là, vous savez.

Comme moi, je suis allé déménagé là ce printemps-ci. Alors, j'ai été obligé de quitter de nuit parce que j'étais trop malade. Puis j'ai dit, si j'avais un téléphone, je pourrais demander à un voisin au moins de venir me chercher pour m'amener à l'hôpital. Mais, ça n'a pas été le cas. Je me suis rendu moi-même, de peine et de misère. Mais ma santé est faible.

Mais les résidences, il y en aurait plus que ça, je suis sûr... même, il y a des lots à vendre. Il y a des gens qui ont acheté les lots, puis ils attendent d'avoir le téléphone pour faire le bâtiment, pour avoir un peu de sécurité.

J'ai pensé, moi, à remercier aussi avant de partir, Madame la présidente. Ça doit être ça votre nom en français.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Pour aujourd'hui, ça va.

M. SAUMURE: J'aimerais remercier votre comédien qui fait la belle annonce pour Bell Canada à la télévision devant des millions et des milliers, des milliards de personnages puis de personnes, de milliers de Canadiens et de Canadiennes de toutes les races, les couleurs, qui entendent ce M. Bruyère si talentueux de nous inviter à acheter le téléphone.

Moi, j'achète aujourd'hui une ligne tout de suite. Je suis le premier client, si vous avez un contrat. Je le signe aujourd'hui, M. Bruyère. Merci à vous. Merci à Bell Canada d'avoir un homme aussi brillant pour nous présenter, nous inviter à avoir le téléphone, et nous sommes pas capable de dire oui à M. Bruyère. Et je regrette cette réponse à vous donner, mais je pense que vous avez compris et vous allez nous donner un téléphone. En quelle année? Pensez-vous que ça va se faire d'ici le mois de octobre ou novembre, décembre, janvier?

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Ce n'est pas une question à laquelle j'ai une réponse, malheureusement.

Vous savez que il y a, à présent, des gens de Bell Canada, qui peut-être dans leur réplique, si vous êtes encore à l'écoute à ce moment-là, ou vous pouvez toujours obtenir les procès-verbaux, auront peut-être une réponse à votre question.

Le participant que nous avons entendu avant vous et vous-même reliez les coûts d'hydro aux coûts de... d'installer l'hydro et aux coûts d'installer le téléphone. Ce n'est peut-être pas si simple que ça qu'on puisse comparer les coûts d'installation, mais je laisse le représentant de Bell Canada, s'il le désire, répondre à cette question.

Entretemps, M. Saumure, je vous rassure que dès que vous aurez le téléphone, je vous téléphone pour aller voir ce paradis terrestre du Lac Lytton.

M. SAUMURE: Vous ne vous trompez pas, Madame. Même, on va vous prêter, à n'importe qui dans la salle d'ici, le chalet qu'il y a là, avec toutes les visions sur le lac et les portes-patio, et la tranquillité et les orignaux qui viennent passer dans notre terrain, manger du gazon. Puis on les laisse faire.

S'il y avait le téléphone, j'aurais pu, cet hiver, faire arrêter des braconniers, Madame, qui essaient de vider les lacs. Pendant qu'on n'a pas de téléphone, ils profitent. J'ai vu ça de mes yeux... profiter de vider et de prendre du poisson, que vous-même peut-être vous aimeriez aller à la pêche, puis il y en aurait 100 de moins ou 100 de plus si on avait eu le téléphone, parce que je trouve ça regrettable d'être obligé de...

Mais je vous remercie et je vous souhaite une longue vie, une meilleure santé que la mienne. Et merci à Bell Canada qui va venir nous installer le téléphone, j'en suis sûr et certain, parce que c'est des gens d'affaires sérieux. Ils ont l'argent, mais on est prêt à donner un coup de main de la façon qu'ils nous le demanderont. Si on est capable, on va le faire.

Merci beaucoup et bonne journée.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Je vous remercie, M. Saumure.

Now, I think we will have an hour break for lunch.

By my watch, it is 1:15. So we will resume at 2:15.

Thank you very much.

--- Recessed for lunch at 1318/Suspension pour

le déjeuner à 1318

--- Resumed at 1419/Reprise à 1419

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order please, ladies and gentlemen. I am finished my shopping so we can continue now.

Madam Secretary, would you please call the next presenter.

THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

We will call Arnold Tindall, Claude Beaudin and Beverly Carr-Lawton.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Tindall.

Whenever you are ready.

MR. TINDALL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I am here as a Member of the Board of Ontario Library Services North, along with Johnathan Lee who is a member of our consulting staff.

OLS North is a corporate body established for the specific purposes of:

(a) increasing co-operation and co-ordination among public library boards and other information providers in order to promote the provision of library service to the public; and

(b) assisting public libraries by providing them with services and programs that reflect their needs, including consultation, training and development services.

The area which we serve extends from Parry Sound in the south, to the Manitoba border and north to Hudson Bay. We support in principle the provision of high quality communication services to all, including the most remote parts of Northern Ontario, if necessary through subsidization from the more commercially viable services in the urban portion of the province.

However, our purpose here today is to direct your attention to one specific problem which we are experiencing. Public libraries across Ontario are attempting to make internet services available to their clientele in order that those citizens who cannot afford their own access, or who cannot manage the technicalities, or who have multi-party lines, may still have the opportunity of receiving information through this new medium in their local public library.

We have just under 150 public library boards serving this vast region. Approximately 125 of them, either through their own local initiative or, in the case of many of the smaller boards, with the help of grants from Industry Canada, have already or are now in the process of obtaining and internet connection within their libraries for the use of their patrons.

OLS North is trying to solve the problem of providing access to 22 libraries which could not possibly have access to an internet service provider without the use of long distance telephone lines. The time usage charges put internet services completely beyond the budgets of these remote libraries. So just the people who need it most are denied any kind of internet service.

OLS North has itself considered offering internet service to these 22 libraries. In order to do this, our cost would be in excess of $40,000 per year just for line charges, and given the limitations of our equipment we would have to impose a rigid schedule and also ration each library to a maximum of 10 hours per month.

We would therefore request that you consider some means by which an 800-number-type service could be provided making possible access to ISP providers for these remote libraries.

We thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation, and we hope you will find some means to assist these remote libraries.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Tindall.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Just a quick question or two. We are running out of time, and there are a lot of things I would like to ask you but I will just limit it to one or two things.

Your concern is both with the telephone company, namely the one that provides you the line as well as the internet service provider? Are there two costs there?

MR. TINDALL: Well, we don't have a problem with the internet service provider provided we could access the internet service provider. Our problem is the long distance charges that are involved with these very small libraries.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. And that $40,000 fee is the long distance --

MR. TINDALL: It would be mostly line charges.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. And you were considering that OLS North would become an internet service provider?

MR. TINDALL: Well, that is one option that we were thinking of, but in order to do it at any reasonable way we would have to have -- it is a considerably greater capital cost, and we couldn't duplicate the service that the present commercial ones are doing.


MR. TINDALL: Therefore, really what we want is for these people to be able to connect to commercial providers.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: When you are talking 10 hours a month, that is really pretty useless.

MR. TINDALL: That is the maximum that we would be able to provide for these 22 libraries if we had to do it.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: That is pretty useless, to have 10 hours of time.

MR. TINDALL: Well, that is our feeling about it.


Okay. Thanks.


Thank you, Mr. Tindall.


THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

LA SECRÉTAIRE: M. Claude Beaudin.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Beaudin.

M. BEAUDIN: Bonjour, mesdames et messieurs. Good afternoon everybody.

My name is Claude Beaudin and I do not represent any large business or group. As a matter of fact, I am more used to being with lumberjacks and miners than businessmen or lawyers or the type of people that you have here today.

Nevertheless, I am here to present the ideas of a small group of people who feel that they should have a voice in what is going on.

I will very briefly deal with the telephone, because most of it has already been said.

We are concerned mainly by what we have read in the papers that there are some proposals to increase the telephone rates by $6 next January and another $6 the following January, this on top of a rate that we had last January of approximately $3 to $4.

Now, if this is implemented it will mean that our local costs will have nearly doubled in a period of a little more than two years. The costs were already considerably higher in Timmins than they are in Toronto, for example, and we feel that this is a hardship that should not be borne by people. This would bring the cost of having a phone beyond affordability for people on fixed or limited incomes, or whose incomes have been reduced -- and that is not an inconsiderable number now.

A phone -- and it's hard for me to not repeat what has been said before by some of the other speakers, but I will try nevertheless.

A phone is not to be considered a luxury any more, but it is a necessity in these days of widespread cutbacks. People living at home with precarious health, the unemployed, those on welfare would have to dip into their already currently meagre food budgets in order to pay their phone bills, thus increasing the already tremendous reliance on our food banks.

Now, I would like to ask a rhetorical question at this moment: How is the internet, access to the information highway, call waiting, call display, all the other bells and whistles, how are those going to be handy to somebody who can't even afford the basic phone?

How is a person who is unemployed or on welfare going to be helped to find work if a potential employer cannot readily reach him or her by phone?

What about someone discharged early from a hospital, the elderly, the handicapped, the lonely or suicidal who are contacting help lines, victims of crime, all must have ready access to a phone.

Now, is labelling this -- and I'm quoting your ad:

" attempt to explore the best possible means of ensuring access to high quality telephone service in high-cost areas." (As read)

My God, fancy words, eh.

Is that not just really a synonym for giving "a competitive edge" to long distance users, the vast volume of which are commercial interests who can deduct these costs from their taxes as a business expense anyway.

The way things are going it will soon be -- appear to be anyway -- nearly as expensive to use local land lines for phone as it is to use cellular phones. We were warned that deregulation would lead to this, unfortunately.

Just like we got hit by Hydro -- and I hate to mention Hydro but we have to mention it here because we are being hit from all sides. Just like we got hit by Hydro when, with great fanfare, they reduced the cost of electricity per kilowatt hour, while at the same time adding an inflated service charge to every bill, thus reducing the cost to large users while raising ours, and just like the bank service charges are insidiously eating into our small bank accounts, we are now facing a near doubling of our phone bills.

The principle of user fees, as espoused by our senior levels of government, should not be the exclusive criteria, along with the bottom line, used in setting these fees. Social responsibility to the Canadian public must also be given prominence.

Now, this leads to my other pet peeve, my main reason for being here actually, TV service locally, specifically MCTV's treatment of the citizens of Timmins.

We are probably the only city in the country where after having had the networks available, these networks available, CBC and CTV, off the air, we must now pay extra fees in the form of a cable subscription in order to receive our national CBC network, which is already paid for by all of our taxes, and a CTV system. What other place has lost their TV coverage of the main national networks off the air for no other reason that either technical incompetence, or perhaps corporate greed. Who knows?

The CBC has been described as one of the ties that binds this country together, something not inconsequential in these days of national uncertainty. Yet we in Timmins, who are not cable subscribers may be somewhat omitted from full participation in our national debate by not being exposed in the primary media to what goes on in the rest of the country, or by seeing it only in a very cursory manner.

Your information and fact sheets mention, for example, how important -- they ask a question: How important is Canadian television programming to you? Well, sir and madam, we do not get television programming if you don't have cable in Timmins. I will explain that a little bit further.

We non-cable subscribers are looking at this, of course, from the bottom up rather that just at the bottom line, being in a minority here not having cable. Nevertheless, most cable subscribers I spoke with are irked at the unfairness of what has happened to us.

Many of them watch movies and sports, despite the much larger choice of programming available to them. Many also have told me that the only reason they got cable was because they were cut off from CBC and CTV. I doubt, however, if the reinstatement of these two channels off the air would lead to very many cable subscription cancellations.

Now, CNN, NewsWorld and The Learning Channel are unavailable to us who are not subscribers to cable, or do not own a satellite dish, why must we also do without local news and Canadian programming?

Again I refer to your fact sheet, it states, and I quote:

"The quality and quantity of Canadian programs has significantly increased." (As read)

Well, sir and madam, it has decreased in Timmins, because we do not get Canadian programming -- and I repeat, you do not get Canadian programming if you don't have cable. We get -- and I will get into this now.

Since MCTV, now owned by Baton Broadcasting of Toronto, moved their transmitting tower to Frederick House, roughly 20 miles east of Timmins, we have been unable to receive these two channels, channels number 3 and 6, CBC and CTV, and our Canadian content without making use of an outside antenna, and sometimes a quite elaborate one at that. For some of us this is impossible, due either to the cost or because of restrictive rules which prevent us from installing them.

In Timmins, with interior antennas we now receive Global and WICS on TV, both of which are packed tight with U.S. programming, as well as TVO, which has excellent programming by the way, though it is also suffering from government cuts.

Et puis, pour les francophones parmi nous, nous recevons le CBLFT de Toronto qui nous donne la programmation de Radio-Canada.

All of these were received quite well. But what about the other half of the Timmins population, the English speaking half? Don't they also deserve to be served by our national networks, by the CBC? Why should they be deprived of this?

Baton Broadcasting claims that they meet the DCOs -- or so they have said DCOs, I believe that stands for Department of Communications -- requirements for strength and availability of signal for outside antenna-equipped receivers. And they will no doubt say that the cost of rectifying the technical error they made, if that is what it is, would be too great in this fragmented advertising market.

Well, I don't have the technical or financial expertise to come up with a dollar figure for the cost of having a small transmitter and attached tower installed at their present location, replacing the one they had before, something with perhaps a range of five or six miles to cover the dead area now, but I'm sure that as a percentage of the large volume of business that Baton Broadcasting has in this country, this would be relatively minimal.

Another quote from again your fact sheet, which states that you:

"...wish to effectively strengthen Canadian presence on our TV screens." (As read)

I would say start by giving us the access to CBC and CTV. Then, when you mention your mandate, which is supposed to be based on principles derived from the Act which state that:

"TV undertakings shall make the maximum and in no case less than predominant use of Canadian resources..." (As read)

Again you are defective there:

"TV sector should provide a wide range of programming reflecting the linguistic duality..." (As read)

That's not happening right now with the situation we have.

We, the citizens, do not have the resources available to Baton Broadcasting to fight this such has high-priced lawyers, technical experts and marketing accountants, but what we do have is a community incensed by the way it is treated by this large faceless Toronto-based corporation which looks only at markets and revenues.

A corporation such as this one has a social duty to the citizens it purports to serve, as well as to its shareholders, or it should have as a condition of retaining its licence to broadcast.

I call on the CRTC to do its job, hoping that it is within its mandate to use its influence on behalf of the people and to induce Baton Broadcasting to be more responsible.

It has also been rumoured in the media recently that MCTV will be moving their newscast operations to Sudbury. If true, this is all the more reason to not leave us orphaned and without local and national coverage and dependent totally on cable service. We do not have the marketing importance of Toronto or Ottawa, but we are still Canadian citizens, I hope.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with a list of 19 names. This list was culled from a small petition, which I will also leave you, 163 names on them, which was only done at the Tim Horton's, the doughnut shop where I usually go. A bunch of friends together who feel the same way that I do and they asked me to speak for them.

Now, these are names of people, friends and acquaintances, mostly who do not have cable and they would like to see the local reception restored to what it was before Baton Broadcasting snafued, if I can use that word.

The petition itself is one that taps into the resentment felt by many people, the number of which has surprised me, who feel that they are being held hostage by the cable supplier. This is not in any way an organized protest, but simply a grassroots expression of the disappointment that people feel in the performance of the CRTC for us in the North, as represented by Baton Broadcasting and Northern Telephone.

Let's hope that for once the CRTC will do something good for us here, not just for the large communications conglomerates of the south.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express these views.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Beaudin.

Mr. Beaudin, the petition you are going to leave with us, does it have only names or the cause of your concerns?

MR. BEAUDIN: Names, addresses and phone numbers, most of them.

THE CHAIRPERSON: And not the cause, the reason?

MR. BEAUDIN: At the head of the petition yes, there is.

THE CHAIRPERSON: That's good. Because this way it can be more easily added to our --

MR. BEAUDIN: I will read you the head. It says:

"To the CRTC

We the undersigned feel that Baton Broadcasting Corporation should restore the transmission of the CBC and CTV programs through their MCTV subsidiary in Timmins to the same quality level as it was before they moved their transmission tower." (As read)

THE CHAIRPERSON: That's good then. It can be added to our TV process as well more easily. Although your words will be in the transcript, but they will be mixed in with the high cost proceeding. So that will make it clearer that we have your concerns.

I gather that -- now, hopefully I am correct, but my understanding is that -- or recollection is that the Timmins transmitter is a dual -- CBC and CTV are situated in the same tower, so that services would have been allegedly impaired equally.

Now, is it just a certain area of Timmins or all of Timmins who is now having difficulty capturing the signal, presumably beforehand with rabbit ears on top of the television?

MR. BEAUDIN: Well, we have to stress, I guess, what we mean by "Timmins". If you are coming in from Toronto about 30 miles out of town, you are still in the bush, it says "Timmins City Centre 22 kilometres" away, or something like that.

But the City of Timmins proper, the whole City of Timmins proper, most of the areas in the City of Timmins cannot receive CBC or CTV coverage without having an outside antenna or cable.

Now, we at first -- the first thing that came to our minds when that happened last year, we figured, well, are they in league with the cable companies to try to force everybody to get cable. Some of us don't want cable out of principle as well.

But no, we found out that it is mainly the City of Timmins and some parts of Shumacher, which I guess you could call it the suburb of Timmins, that's like saying, I don't know --

THE CHAIRPERSON: So it is your view that it is a very large area, not just a pocket?

MR. BEAUDIN: Very large area. Most of the City of Timmins, the city proper itself and Shumacher, and Mountjoy Township.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank the Lord we don't have the situation we used to. If I recall, Mid-Canada used to own both the television and the cable, correct?

MR. BEAUDIN: At one time Mid-Canada Television was providing all services throughout most of the North. As a matter of fact, when Mr. Conrad Lavigne owned it I was living at one time, 30 years ago, in Virginiatown, which is 30 miles the other side of Kirkland Lake, a small community of 1,800, and we had good TV coverage at the time.

But now Baton Broadcasting, big shots out of Toronto, they don't care about us little people in the North, you know, us miners.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I was being facetious, because if you are saying that it is because they want people to connect to cable, it would have been even more suspicious when it was owned by the same company.

MR. BEAUDIN: Well, no, but it's not owned -- they told me that it is not owned. Now, I don't know what's happening under the table.

THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no, it's not. It's owned by Baton and it's no longer Northern, who was also the same shareholders, but it's not the same company that owns both.

It is an area I am fairly familiar with, Sudbury, and how service is provided.

We will bring your concerns back and I don't know if anyone has expressed these concerns to the Commission formally.

MR. BEAUDIN: I sent a Letter to the Editor a couple of months ago, and I also sent a copy of that letter to our Member of Parliament, Mr. Bélair. He forwarded a letter to your Commission, which has replied to me. I got the reply last Friday, as a matter of fact, just before I came here. It appears that they are asking Baton Broadcasting to explain what has happened.

Just to give you an idea, when I sent the Letter to the Editor I just signed my name of course at the bottom. Well, four people -- now this is a small town, relatively small town -- four people went to the trouble of looking up my name in the phone book and calling me to ask me if we could do something about that. Now, that's what I stress --

THE CHAIRPERSON: That's what a lumberjack can do.

Thank you very much.

We appreciate you expressing these concerns, as well as your concerns related to telephone service. Mr. Beaudin, hopefully there will be some solution to them.

MR. BEAUDIN: Thank you very much, and enjoy your stay in Timmins.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.

Thank you very much, we are. Working quite hard, but we will be shopping yet.

MR. BEAUDIN: If you get a chance go see the gold mine tour that we have in Timmins.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Should I go to Tim Horton's too?

MR. BEAUDIN: Why not, it's a good place. It's a good place.

Thank you.


Madam Secretary, the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter is Beverly Carr-Lawton.

MR. BEAUDIN: You got me all excited, I forgot my papers.



MS CARR-LAWTON: Actually, he got me excited too because I'm not a cable subscriber either.


MS CARR-LAWTON: I also don't receive CBC or CTV.

THE CHAIRPERSON: And you don't go to Tim Horton's, the same Tim Horton's.

MS CARR-LAWTON: Yes, exactly. I should probably sign the petition.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Ms Carr-Lawton.

MS CARR-LAWTON: Thank you.

Welcome to Timmins. My name is Beverly Carr-Lawton and I am the manager of a local real estate office here in Timmins. As well, then, as being a corporate consumer of the telecommunications services, I'm also, obviously, a residential consumer as well.

I have not a very sophisticated presentation for you today, mostly because I don't have a very high level of understanding of the telecommunications industry. I don't pretend to understand the fiscal ramifications, nor the technological issues that surround that industry and are part of that industry.

So I don't really know where to place the blame, or with whom to place the blame, if you will, as to why I feel this marketplace has been held back historically, and I feel it continues to be held back in many ways.

I refer to areas of the telecommunications industry such as long distance service, cellular service, paging service, and even internet provision through telephone wires if you will. These are areas that are of concern to realters, and so when I speak I speak also for my co-workers as well as myself, but these are also concerns shared by residential consumers, so I speak for my family and my neighbours as well.

I have concerns. I guess my primary concern is that there is a blatant lack of competition in this marketplace. There is, if you will, either an actual or virtual monopoly that exists in the areas that I mentioned pertaining to the telecommunications industry. I work in an industry that is strongly impacted by the Competition Act of Canada, and I believe that Act was designed and implemented to restrict limitations placed on fair competition in the marketplace.

My understanding is that that was done because -- that statute was created because fair competition brings balance to a marketplace, which brings benefit to the consumer. I would submit that the telecommunications industry is a service industry which exists to service and satisfy consumers. That might be naive, but I believe that.

Therefore, I believe that there is a sorry lack of competition. I don't know why that is, but I believe it has existed for too long and ought to be changed.

I just recently was reviewing a telephone bill. We have a branch office in Iroquois Falls, which is a community very close to this community, and realize that we pay $1.80 per minute to call our branch office. Now, if we were to have a 10-minute telephone conversation with a branch office -- which is not outside the demands of regular business -- every day of the week, we would be paying $18 a day just to keep in touch with a branch office that is not in southern Ontario, that is just located very close to where we are. I think that is shameful. I do.

In addition to the concerns in the areas I have mentioned, I was reading a newspaper article just the other day which tells me that 4,800 consumers in this area are still on a party-line system, and no less than eight communities don't have touch-tone service, which most of us here take for granted. Again, I think in this country, which is so developed, and as we approach the 21st century, that is shameful.

I don't know how we change that, but I guess I don't have to figure that out, I guess the CRTC has some responsibility there.

Just in conclusion, I would suggest that we consult our brightest minds and challenge them to be creative and solve some of these problems that face us, particularly in this area.

We are described as a remote area, and yet we somehow are strategically enough positioned to supply minerals and metals and lumber to the rest of this province and the rest of this country. That path can be travelled both ways. We need to bring the services that benefit other Canadians to our area.

Nothing frustrates me more than to switch on the television in the evening and learn about all of these very appealing services that are available to other Canadians but not to me and not to my neighbours.

I speak to loved ones and friends in other areas of this province and this country and learn that when they call me they pay a fraction, just a small fraction -- and I'm not exaggerating -- a small fraction of what I pay to call them. We are utilizing the same service virtually. There is something wrong with this scenario.

So I would submit that we need competition in this marketplace, and I would challenge you to bring that about somehow.

I thank you for your time.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Carr-Lawton.

Commissioner Cardozo?

MS CARR-LAWTON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Don't zip that up, I have a question for you. Wait.

MS CARR-LAWTON: I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Not at all. Thanks very much.

I should stress that in our view there is no such thing as an unsophisticated presentation, so don't feel you have to come with any detailed briefs or documents. I think what you have said is perfectly informative for us.

It is interesting the way you put it. You were talking about essentially superimposing an information highway over the transportation highway so that if lumber can go down a road so can telephone communications.

Just tell me, for real estate agents in the area what kind of telecom services do you have? Do you all have cell phones and beepers and stuff?

MS CARR-LAWTON: M'hm, m'hm. We make good use and frequent use of paging service.


MS CARR-LAWTON: And there really is only one provider right now, with Northern Telephone having just, I guess, developed a paging service of their own. As a matter of fact, the representative is coming to our office this week to help us understand that service better.

But there is a virtual monopoly there. There is very little competition in the cellular area. Long distance rates are, I think, astronomical compared to what other Canadians pay, just in every way.

Even internet providers. We had -- our Real Estate Board here is moving to a new type of MLS service, and we will access that through the internet. The gentleman that came up, from southern Ontario of course, to train us on using this new system was talking to us about internet providers and just said "Well, just call them all. I mean, they are all going to offer you unlimited access. You might pay $30 for it, but they all offer it."

But not here, not locally. We have three providers locally and none of them offer unlimited access. I think that is shameful when it is readily available in so many other places in this day and age.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: And if you live in an area where there are only party lines available, then you can't have access at home to the MLS.

MS CARR-LAWTON: Well, I can't really speak to that because we don't have that challenge, that particular challenge, although I gather many others in this area do. But we don't here in Timmins proper.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You're in Timmins, okay.

MS CARR-LAWTON: M'hm, m'hm.


That covers my questions.

MS CARR-LAWTON: Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Carr-Lawton.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: Yes. The next presenters will be Keith Mitchell, Laurier Bourgeois, Jim Grayston.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Mitchell.

Are you accompanied by someone else?

MR. MITCHELL: Yes. We had made prearrangements for this.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Hopefully, if both want to address us, or all of you, you can move the microphone to each other, to the extent that it is possible.

MR. MITCHELL: There is a three part presentation.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, each person will come --

MR. MITCHELL: The school board -- but they are all interlinked.

THE CHAIRPERSON: But it will be seriatim?


THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Thank you.

MR. MITCHELL: Okay. Thank you very much.

This presentation today is being made on behalf of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, the City of Timmins, Timmins Economic Development Corporation, the Timmins & District Hospital, Northern College and the District School Board, Ontario Northeast and municipal governments.

These groups represent the interest of commerce, health care and education in Timmins and areas along the Highway 11 corridor from New Liskeard to Hearst.

This large serving area covers 83,000 square kilometres, yet contains a population of approximately 100,000 people. This relatively low population density presents a challenge to the businesses and institutions of Northeastern Ontario who must provide service, education, training and care to a widely dispersed population while remaining efficient in the face of cutbacks and amalgamation.

Fortunately, modern telecommunications can offer cost-effective ways to communicate over large distances. This is true for most of Ontario, including the communities of North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. Northeastern Ontario is the exception.

Today this area does not have toll -- long distance -- or long line competition our only telecommunications suppliers are O.N. Tel and Northern Telephone Limited. As a result, telecommunications services in Northeastern Ontario are significantly more expensive than in other parts of Ontario.

This disparity has become very evident over the last few months as our organizations undertake a project important to the growth of our communities.

Our organizations are in the process of forming a community-based network called Northeastern Ontario Network. We intend to create an ATM -- Asynchronous Transfer Mode -- network with nodes in every sizeable community from Hearst to New Liskeard. This community-based network would link to four other northern community based networks located in North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. The name of the overall project to link the northern communities is called "Chrysalis".

The successful completion of this project would allow the school boards and colleges to offer high quality video-conferencing and high speed internet access. Hospitals could link together with tele-radiology and physicians could collaborate on diagnoses through video-conferencing. Businesses would be able to establish call centres, which have become a major source of employment in other parts of the country. At present, Northeastern Ontario does not have a single significant call centre.

Private sector businesses require modern state-of-the-art technologies to compete in the global marketplace, to remain in contact with their head offices, and to service their customers throughout the world. Technologies such as ISTN and CCS7 are not presently available in our operating territories.

Just as important, northern businesses deserve the same infrastructures as the rest of our province for services such as individual business lines, fax and internet.

The major obstacle to our initiatives is the cost of telecommunications in our area. However, we believe that competition in toll and long line services is only part of the solution.

If the CRTC were to grant toll competition today in our serving area, most of the major toll providers such as AT&T and Sprint would have little incentive to enter the market. The reason these companies could not offer serious competition is Northern Telephone Limited's carrier access tariff which is up to eight times higher than the equivalent Bell Canada rate for other northern communities.

The CAT issue must be resolved if Northeastern Ontario is to be in a comparative position with the rest of Northern Ontario. Once the CAT issue is resolved, full toll competition should be allowed so that competition can bring competitive pricing and innovation to Northeastern Ontario, as it has to the rest of the province.

Northern Telephone's traditional argument against the CAT is the costs of service are higher in the North. Our response is simple: The Northern Ontario communities, which include North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, are effectively subsidized by the lucrative southern Ontario market.

Bell's parent company, BCE, now owns 99 per cent of Northern Telephone Limited. There is no reason that Northern Telephone service area needs are to be treated any different than the rest of Ontario North.

Our position is that the CAT for Northern Ontario would be blended with the Bell CAT. The infusion of 65,000 network access services from Northern Telephone Limited would have a minimal effect on the total BCE holdings of Bell and Northern Telephone Limited. This blending of the CAT would go a long way to putting Northeastern Ontario on a level playing field with the rest of Northern Ontario. This solution would also eliminate the need for any large monthly increases in charges.

In conclusion, we believe that the CRTC needs to do two things to allow business, health care and education to survive and flourish in Northeastern Ontario.

One: Blend the CAT of the two sister companies, Bell and Northern Telephone Limited.

Two: Allow full toll and long line competition. We believe that normal market forces will take over from this point and the outcome will be beneficial to all of Northeastern Ontario.

Thank you for your time. We would be pleased to answer any questions.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So this completes your presentation.

MR. MITCHELL: This is my part.


Mr. Mitchell, I will not have many questions, in part because both the high CAT issue and whether competition is allowed in the territories you refer to are processes that are ongoing before the CRTC. As you are probably well aware, we now have an ongoing process looking at the high CAT issue with regards to the independence, both in Quebec and Ontario, so they are issues that are front and centre for the Commission so your concerns will obviously be examined.

But I would prefer not to pursue this, because it is an ongoing process before us that is not unrelated, but not closely related to what we are looking at in the high-cost low-density proceeding.

With regard to the Chrysalis project, do I understand that the funds to put the infrastructure together would be unrelated to the telephone company? It would be a project that would be completed with funds that are provided by levels of government, and that your concern is that eventually this infrastructure has to be connected to the public switch network --

MR. MITCHELL: There is two simple --

THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and therefore that the ongoing cost will be more than you can bear reasonably without subsidy?

MR. MITCHELL: I can answer that very quickly.

First, the government has excellent programs in place that would allow us to develop community-based network, the initial capital costs.

What the project has looked at is, although that is an excellent project we have no real hope of keeping this project alive and well unless we can have similar competitive rates to data networks to link the nodes.

When we look at that, we see that as a high-cost serving area, similar to what we are talking today, and without competition we do not believe it is going to be viable unless we can get the similar costs to the same as Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay. If we could have the same type of even, distance-sensitive cost, then we have a viable operation that we can open up all areas, education, health care and business.

THE CHAIRPERSON: But you are willing to rely on market forces brought upon by competition for the lowering of the rates to a level that can be affordable?

MR. MITCHELL: Very much so. We believe that just by opening it up to multiple suppliers, this would be a very lucrative and long-term contract that would be attractive to many suppliers and that they would all show an interest, and that it would be freely open to any one of them, that we would have a wide open, fair competition, but that the competition would generate competitive rates.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Mitchell.

We have your submission on the record as well.

The next presenter will be?

Would you identify yourself again, please. I think in the melee I did not catch your name properly.



MS POCHOPSKY: Okay. I am Rosemary Pochopsky, I am Vice-Chair of the District School Board Ontario Northeast and one of the members of the NEONet Group.

THE CHAIRPERSON: If not for my benefit, perhaps for the court reporter, would you spell your name for us so that we don't mangle it?

MS POCHOPSKY: Spell my name, okay. P-O-C-H-O-P-S-K-Y.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, it's easy.

MS POCHOPSKY: It's easy.



District School Board One came into existence on January 1st, 1998 in accordance with Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act. The Hearst Board of Education, Kapuskasing-Smooth Rock Falls and District School Board, Cochrane-Iroquois Falls-Black River Matheson Board of Education, Timmins Board of Education, Kirkland Lake Board of Education and Timiskaming Board of Education merged to form District School Board ONE.

The Board operates 50 schools along the Highway 11 corridor from Tilden Lake, just north of North Bay, to Hearst, a distance of some 660 kilometres, and extends along Highway 101 into Timmins. The Board's jurisdiction encompasses 25,196 square kilometres and has 40 organized municipalities and 108 unorganized townships within its boundaries. The Board provides education to some 12,100 elementary, secondary and adult students, and employs approximately 2,500 full and part time staff.

District School Board ONE is committed to providing equal access for Northern students to quality programs and, in particular, to providing all of the learning opportunities available through modern telecommunication technologies.

Educators realize the importance of the internet and the role it will play in meeting these objectives. Unfortunately, not all of the students within the vast area covered by the Board have easy and ready access to this most important new education tool.

Within the Board there are seven elementary schools that are severely limited in the ability to access the web because of a serious shortage of available telephone lines. Ideal circumstances would see 56K line access available to all schools, thus allowing all PCs within the school to be connected to the internet.

Dedicated circuits are not available in many areas, thus necessitating the use of satellites. Even with this technology in place, there is still the requirement for a modem line for the outbound connection.

Three perfect examples of the lack of service in the Board are in our most southern region where Kearns public school presently has only three telephone lines, and Elk Lake Public School and Larder Lake Public School have only two telephone lines. We cannot get any additional lines in these areas because none are available.

With the advent of dedicated facsimile machine lines, administrative data processing lines to centralized mainframe computers and the internet, there are no lines left for normal telephone communications, let alone any expansion in these areas. Our students and staff deserve better service.

Another interesting facet of this saga is the great variance in the price of a business telephone line throughout our Board area. The monthly cost of a line in our southern region varies from $13.43 per month in Temagami, serviced by Ontario Northland, to $44.50 per month in the remainder of the region serviced by Northern Telephone.

Similarly, the cost of a business line in our northern and central regions varies from a low of $13.50 in Cochrane, where the telephone system is operated by the Cochrane Public Utilities Commission, to a high of $57.65 in Timmins, serviced by Northern Telephone.

Perhaps blending Bell and Northern Telephone's rates, as suggested earlier, would help lower the cost of doing business in the North, as well as assist public sector telephone users such as our Board to provide quality education at a more reasonable cost.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Ms Pochopsky.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you very much.

MS POCHOPSKY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I just have a couple of quick questions.

When you talked about the new school boards, I have a couple of kids in a school board that also merged and I would love to get into a long conversation about how that is working, but I'm not allowed to.

So let me just ask you, with regards to the internet service that you are trying to provide to the students, if you don't have the line do you simply not use it or do you go online for short periods of time?

MS POCHOPSKY: Well, some of the schools would maybe have one line so they could have one computer on.


MS POCHOPSKY: But there are others that don't.


MS POCHOPSKY: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Pochopsky.

THE SECRETARY: Mr. Walter Gray.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Gray.

MR. GRAY: Good afternoon.

I thank the CRTC and Northern Tel and O.N. Tel for the opportunity to make a brief presentation here.

I am going to try to paraphrase my document to keep it brief, so it may seem disjointed as I go through it, but I will hit the critical points.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I am sure it won't be, and the full document will be part of the record.

MR. GRAY: Okay.

What I will talk about quickly is the environment of Northern College, some telecommunications issues, and some brief recommendations from my experience over the years in dealing with telcos.

Just to give you a quick overview, I have had experience in implementing telecommunications solutions for education and other organizations and in many parts of Canada, starting with Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, B.C., the Yukon, and now Northeastern Ontario.

I continue to track telecom technologies and standards, to work with national organizations such as CA*Net and others to look at communication issues, to monitor CRTC rulings, and to track the pace of technical implementations and to monitor costs in North America. I certainly have a view on problems and issues facing this particular industry.

As Executive Director of Learning and Information Technologies for Northern College I am involved with planning and operation of all of the computing system environments, all applications of software in educational and administrative uses, learning support resources, networks, and telecommunication infrastructures for the many campus locations that we support throughout Northeastern Ontario.

The telecommunication costs amount to more than 5 per cent of our operational budget, far in excess of equivalent costs for southern or urban campuses, something that is difficult to afford.

We have multiple locations from Moosonee down to Haileybury, from Kirkland Lake to Hearst, to here, and many in smaller communities as well.

It is obvious that we need to provide different forms of communication to support this varied population base. Different technologies are required, but they all come down to one issue, and that is the cost of providing connectivity in one form or another.

The college currently operates a T-1 facility between three campus locations in order to provide adequate communication to the other locations. The costs are simply prohibitive at this point.

So to highlight the telecom issues that we see: The costs of bandwidth. The biggest problem we face is the high cost of wide area network connectivity in the form of leased-line and high-speed internet access.

Associated with this are high long distance toll rates for rural and remote areas. Everybody else has addressed that fairly closely, I will leave that one out of this discussion at this point.

In the college system for Ontario, over the past seven years there has been a 25 per cent drop in funding grants, but yet at the same time an increase in student enrolment.

At the same time, technical infrastructures have become outdated or, at best, barely -- or unreliable and, at worst, simply non-operational. As a small college we face far higher per unit costs of doing business in this widely dispersed Northern area due to higher service costs and lower class sized. Scale just doesn't fit here. It doesn't work.

We have little hope of implementing an adequate communications infrastructure since we cannot afford the large scale breaks due southern people.

As an example of such costs, just to keep this in mind, in downtown Vancouver five years ago -- no doubt this has dropped since then -- one could get 10 megabits of data bandwidth for $1,200 per month. For me to put a leased facility in place from here to Kapuskasing at 56K, it costs $660 per month. That is a factor of 100 difference in terms of bandwidth or cost per bit, or whatever you want to call it.

At the same time, I know that the actual cost of such bandwidth in this area, with the current technologies and existing infrastructures, is certainly less than one and-a-half to two times equivalent cost in urban centre. So why the disparity?

Internet connection bandwidth provided by ONet to Northern College is over three times the cost of southern Ontario rates.

Now, ONet was originally struck to provide equal cost to all educational organizational bases. They moved away from that philosophy. Downtown Toronto can get rates at one-third or less than one-third than I pay, and I need higher rates, higher connectivity because of the options that we need to prove.

In Northeast Ontario schools, colleges, health organizations likely account for less than 5 per cent of the combined operating revenues of O.N. Tel and Northern Tel. If a discount rate of 4 to 6 per cent of WAN charges were made available to such organizations they would likely reinvest most of this in additional bandwidth.

Revenues on the service providers would not drop and, secondly, the additional services would likely be provided at margins at little or no added operating cost to these organizations.

The wide area fibre infrastructure is mostly in place. There is no likelihood of service bottlenecks in terms of increase demand caused by drop -- hopefully caused by drop of service charges.

What is required is investments in ATM technology, and the benefits to the organizations in this area -- not just public organizations but to others -- would accrue.

I should note, while we fumble onward in our process in Canada, the United States has, in less than two years, legislated and implemented a national e-Rate program better known as the "Federal Universal Service Fund on Discounts and Subsidies for Schools, Libraries and Rural Health Care Providers". The discounts vary from 20 to as much as 90 per cent.

Now, while not totally encompassing of all educational organizations, most of the States have taken this process and extended it to include a comprehensive approach to supporting and providing cost-effective wide area networks for all schools, colleges and universities such that all costs are lower and location insensitive.

The second problem we face is the almost total lack of co-ordination and co-operation at the federal and provincial levels in terms of policy support, planning and providing cost-effective networking for educational health.

I can assure you that in my attempts over the years to provide cost-effective telecom services for school districts, colleges, universities and other public service organizations, they have always come down to the same general statement when asked of the service providers, "We could do that for you, but the existing CRTC regulations prevent us from doing so."

There are many other variations on that statement. Now, whether it is indeed a regulatory issue or simply no desire on the part of service providers to provide other mechanisms or service offerings, the end result is the same: Excessive high costs for public organizations and, in turn, lower quality or lack of service options for their own clients in turn.

As an example, I have tried to track the CRTC decisions concerning special rates for public education and health service providers. This started on September 26th, 1995, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 95-44, "Tariffs for Education and Health Service Entities", and the subsequent Ottawa 27 September 1996 Telecom Decision CRTC 96-9, "Tariffs for Education and Health Service Entities", and perusing your web and looking at all the communications back and forth between telecom providers and their objections and so on.

Now, I expect the initial public notice was preceded by other hearings, so it probably started at least in 1995, so this is four years later and we still have no impact of that decision.

The issue goes back further. When I was a member of a National Educational Subcommittee of the Department of Communications in the mid-80s, we did make presentation to the CRTC for special consideration for educational pricing. Nothing happened with that either. I know doing the same thing back in the '70s in Manitoba, nothing happened.

So the statement is simply: Where is that decision?

The third issue is the regulatory process itself. Excessive delays in the CRTC decisions affect telecom providers as well as the end users in terms of operating costs and types of available services.

Many telecom service providers and others such as cable companies could provide special services for education and health. The current regulatory environment places excessive delays into such application processes, opens the decision up to competitor objectives, even though they may not be local competitors. This encourages or forces the telecom vendors to delay any investments in infrastructure, since decisions may go against their investments or produce limits in their own decisions such that new technologies may be imminent and further reduce the delays in any sort of service provision.

The community-based network initiative being proposed for Northern Ontario may help this situation, but the political decision process is tenuous at best, and implementations would still be faced with high access and service rates from local service providers. Many of these rates are based on mileages, an algorithm which simply no longer would reflect the true cost of providing those network services in these or remote areas.

The CBNs may also end up being restricted in terms of complement of services provided by the end users or allowing them to deploy such things as phone as well as data services, thus further negating the justification of these projects.

The CRTC process to rebalance costs of local access, of long distance service rates has taken far too long. The private line user would likely see little change in their overall monthly billing, since slight increases in local access would be offset by far greater reductions in toll charges.

A more comprehensive and aggressive deadline for conversion would allow telecom providers to focus on technology investment decisions rather than the legal process.

In addition, the slow process for rebalancing doesn't induce competition into the local loops. It negates that process. Competition is only incurred in long distance and leased line services, or where there is volume of market that can potentially produce some of those savings.

In the current situation, I would expect the legal departments in the telcos get more of the new investment than the technology departments.

Further, the technology service addition of local internet and data access has never been adequately addressed by the regulatory process, and therefore by the telcos. This new service impact with long hold times does not work on voice-based networks designed for short hold times and maximum end user connect ratios which were originally designed for less than 5 per cent.

Technical solutions are available. It's not a matter of technology. The slow pace of rebalancing has not allowed these local loop investments to be justified, and in this area for instance we will never see ISDN, basic or primary rate interface, and it is doubtful if we ever see any of the forms of DSL introduced.

So where does that leave us? I would think a more competitive environment should be used to drive service offerings, but small service areas may not benefit even in that sense, since the already small volume split into even smaller segments will not attract major vendors.

For small serving areas in the rebalancing transition there will likely be a need for small rate increases for private line service and cross-subsidy transfer from the large serving area telcos. For instance, the 66,000 services in this particular area amount to just over .1 per cent of all of Ontario, hardly a big impact on a bottom line issue.

Where am I at? The end results may force a merger with the larger telco providers who are able to make significant advancements on a wider system-wide basis.

Telecommunication across this country is still a system of local or regional corporate monopolies in spite of, or perhaps because of, the CRTC regulatory process. The fine-grained regulatory approach to decisions based on return of investment simply does not fit with the need for rapid and open technological-based competitive processes.

I have a series of quick recommendations.

One, we need to simplify the CRTC mandate. The CRTC should become simply a watchdog organization which sets price caps on most services and then reviews the results on an annual basis, with the expectation that most will undergo downward trends and that excessive profits be returned to customers.

Two, direct immediate tariff reductions for public health and education. Provide immediate Tier 1 pricing less 40 per cent on all leased line services for all public health and educational organizations across the country, period. It doesn't matter where they are. Provide immediate long distance toll relief of 30 per cent for remote and rural health and educational organizations. The basis would be to provide rates that are essentially location insensitive.

Third, speed up the process of rebalancing. Rebalancing has been talked about for at least 15 years. Simply set a guideline for two years hence and let the telecom industry make the investments in the technology to make it happen. The guiding principles here should be one that quickly moves the tariffs to become location independent.

Four, open up competition for all services in all areas. Convergence is coming in terms of supporting technologies for all modes of communication, including telephone, data, radio and video. The segmented vertical market regulatory approach is preventing this from happening, and if continued will no doubt continue to render higher cumulative total costs for all these providers of all these services for the end users in the end.

Next, remove restrictions on technical trials. There should be virtually no restriction on technical trials. Just use these in terms of a guiding principle on quality of service and cost reduction in terms of the evolution of the technologies that telcos or others can provide in terms of this.

Finally, let technological innovation drive price reductions. In the past CRTC decisions were based on a 25 year lifetime of investments, and that mentality is still in the telcos, and perhaps in many of the decisions based not too long ago in terms of CRTC issues.

I expect most decisions are based on a eight-year type lifetime now, even though tax Canada allows a 30 per cent annual write-off rate in these investments. Even eight years is far too long for the pace of most technological change in telecommunications equipment.

Equipment regardless, even in a five or eight year time span, is the smallest component of the annual operating cost. People always talk about this, but it is the smallest component. Quality of service and technical standards will guide whatever process you will let free in terms of this activity.

I meant to start by saying that when I was younger I actually climbed telephone poles. Our rural area had its own telephone company. When SaskTel took it over the rates went up by a factor of four times from what was provided by the community based network. Services didn't change for a period of eight years. Anyway, just a point.

I just complete this by saying, the regulatory processes need to be redefined and simplified for the benefit of the end users on an equitable basis by moving to one that provides price cap tariffs relatively insensitive to location, and let open competition, technology and market define costs and return investments for the telecom industry people.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Gray.

You share, I gather, Mr. Mitchell's faith in competition to achieve the goal of lower costs in the area in which you work currently. Is that fair?

MR. GRAY: I think that, plus a review of the tariffs for these sorts of areas.

THE CHAIRPERSON: The reason I am asking is, on page 5 of your written submission your recommendation (a) seems to be, unless you clarify for me, a bit at odds with the rest, because you suggest that:

"The CRTC should become simply a watchdog organization..."

And presumably let market forces in competition open up to competition and it will solve the problems that we are looking at now. But it is followed by a number of requirements for direct and more expeditious involvement in the market by the Commission. I'm not quite sure I understand.

MR. GRAY: No, I don't read my recommendations in that sense.

If what we have been doing for the past many years isn't working, I think we need to change the process. So it's a staged change in the process.

The fine-grained micro-economic review of telecom statements of profit and loss and business investments simply delays the process. I would think a price cap process, if the CRTC continues in its current mode, would be a far simpler way to approach it.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I understand. It's perhaps our view of what is a watchdog process as opposed to a regulatory one is not the same, because if I read:

"Provide immediate Tier 1 pricing less 40% ... for all public health and education organizations."

Your view is that that would occur without regulatory intervention.

MR. GRAY: Again, it comes down to an issue of policy, government policy and regulatory approach. I would ask you, what happened to Decision 96-9 in terms of special pricing for education and health organizations. Two years hence we have seen nothing.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Of course, you may not have been here this morning, but your Mayor urged me to go shopping in Timmins. I won't be able to do that if you lead me out of a job.

--- Laughter/Rires

MR. GRAY: I'm sure you will find the prices here competitive with southern Ontario.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but I have to have a job first. I'm really worried about your recommendation (a), so that's why I wanted to clarify.

My only other -- well, I have two more questions. One is, did I hear you say that you know what the cost of providing T-1 or any other service in this area is compared to what it is in Vancouver? You know that?

MR. GRAY: I would suggest to you that given the existing infrastructure that is place, there is fibre across this area, given the types of investments that could be made, someone willing to do those in terms of ATM technology, the actual cost of providing that bit rate to users in this area, should not be -- and in fact it should be less than 50 to 100 per cent higher than it might be possible in southern Ontario.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Would it be your view that that is true of any of the regions we have heard from today --

MR. GRAY: Yes.

THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that you can't base it on expected return because of density?

MR. GRAY: I would expect so.

THE CHAIRPERSON: My last question, because I believe we are now in a satellite campus of Northern College.

MR. GRAY: This is the main campus.

THE CHAIRPERSON: It's the main campus?

MR. GRAY: Yes.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Porcupine. So it's the Timmins campus?

MR. GRAY: Yes.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I have been curious, in many parts of the country where we have been there is, of course, an insistence, which I well understand, on the value, which is probably even greater in areas that are less dense and with more space in between, more kilometres in between of using tele-education.

In your view, what happens as this increases, since you are involved in this area, is it increased and improved service or cost-effectiveness because you need less staff and it's compensated by the telecommunications means that you have at your disposal, or more students because you can have more satellite colleges, not necessarily, But in general as someone involved in this area, what happens when that type of connectivity is improved?

MR. GRAY: Well, I would have to say that there are two types -- actually many types of distance education. The area breaks down into two components, synchronous activity, much as we are experiencing here with video or audio tele-conferencing; and asynchronous activity that would be supported with web-based and alternate paper-based delivery processes.

For Northern College the distance edge component of our activity is something that has grown significantly over the past several years, and I would see it growing even more so.

The problem that we face as a college is that we can't afford enough internet connection bandwidth to provide that sort of service to the surrounding areas.

And, secondly, the cost of access, as people have talked about, to internet service providers is generally higher here than it is in southern locations.

Regardless, having the opportunity to provide that service would give us a larger pool of people to draw on. Providing reasonable cost bandwidths would allow us to provide services in areas where we simply cannot even hope to address at this point.

Certainly there are issues with regard to the quality of learning that occurs, but that is beyond the hearings at this point. I would say upfront, just as a base statement, that there is no significant difference between regular classroom-type of instruction and that delivered to distance learners who are engaged in a learning process. So to be able to provide alternatives is most important to the college.

Smaller campuses do not have the magnitude of resources to draw on for a variety of reasons, obvious, and so we need to apply telecommunications to leverage whatever advantage we have in the area. And it is a disadvantage with the prices we currently have.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So I gather that the main advantage of having affordable connectivity is to increase the equitable -- the opportunity for more people to have access to education via these means.

When you use "asynchronous" in this case, you would mean something like the capacity to download information without interaction as we have now, or upload information that can be downloaded?

MR. GRAY: Okay. "Asynchronous" is something that might be based on something like web, World Wide Web delivery activities.


MR. GRAY: Yes.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You are not talking about "asynchronous" in the real technical means --

MR. GRAY: No, no.

THE CHAIRPERSON: -- but pull and push technology, which is often the terms used?

MR. GRAY: Yes. Location independence also should reflect time independence of that process, and that is what the term "asynchronous" means.


I hope you will be kind to us when we eventually try to find some resolution to these problems. It is not easy. What we are looking at now, of course, is how to -- whether there are means of increasing the capability of reaching more people, and there are situations that we hear from many people who don't even have access to telephone, and it will be difficult to find ways of resolving all this. But willy-nully, I don't think I'm out of a job yet.

Thank you, Mr. Gray. It was nice to hear from you, Mr. Gray.

MR. GRAY: Thank you.

LA SECRÉTAIRE: Le prochain c'est M. Laurier Bourgeois.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Bourgeois.

M. BOURGEOIS: Bonjour. Good afternoon.

I welcome the opportunity to appear before you today as Vice Chair of the Highway 11 Corridor Municipal Coalition, which represents 12 municipalities along the Highway 11 corridor from Black River-Matheson to Hearst, to make you aware of the inequities that exist in our area as far as telephone service and the reality that without necessary support these inequities will continue into the next millennium. The minimum standards are no longer acceptable.

J'accueille avec plaisir cette occasion de paraître devant vous aujourd'hui à titre de Vice-président de la Coalition municipale du corridor de la route 11 qui représente 12 municipalités qui longent la route no 11 de Hearst jusqu'à Black River-Matheson.

Je me présente ici aujourd'hui afin de vous sensibiliser aux inégalités qui existent dans nos régions en ce qui a trait au service téléphonique ainsi qu'à la réalité que sans l'appui nécessaire, ces inégalités persisteront dans le prochain millénaire. Les normes minimales ne sont plus acceptables.

It is appropriate that I make this presentation today, not only on behalf of the Coalition but also as Reeve of the community of Val Rita-Harty, but more so as a Northern Telephone customer whose family must contend with second-rate and unsatisfactory telephone service. My family, every day, experiences the reality of what these presentations are all about on a daily basis. We are on a four-party-line system.

Permettez-moi de partager avec vous les observations des résidents et résidentes qui ne jouissent pas du service de base d'une ligne privée. Que ce soit pour leur domicile ou pour leur commerce, et que ces gens soient âgés, jeunes, hommes, femmes, bien nantis ou défavorisés, quand vous devez partager une ligne à deux ou à quatre abonnés, il n'y a pas de discrimination.

Let me share with you comments from residents who do not have the pleasure of basic private line service, be it for their home or for their business, and be they old, young, male, female, advantaged or disadvantaged. When you are on a two- or four-party-line system, there is no discrimination.

For example:

• Trying to use the telephone but somebody else is already on the line.

• Vous êtes en train de parler et quelqu'un décroche puis raccroche.

• Having the telephone ring in your home at all hours of the day or night, definitely not an ideal situation when a family member works on shift.

• Vous attendez un appel de grande importance et vous ne pouvez le recevoir car la ligne est occupée.

• When one telephone is inoperative, then others on the line are also inoperative.

• Not being able to utilize an answering machine, fax machine, or advanced technology such as making use of internet like thousands of other Canadians.

• Vous ne jouissez d'aucun secret de vos communications.

• Emergency contacts such as 9-1-1 for police, ambulance, or fire protection.

I would like to be able to say to you today, we have a problem and please call me so we can talk further about it. You can try, but the telephone line may very well be busy.

In the Coalition area, there are 12,000 private and two-party-line services, and some 1,500 four-party-line services. If I sound like a disgruntled telephone customer who is annoyed with the current level of service, then your judgment is correct. These frustrations occur on a daily basis.

Private telephone service is a fundamental and integral component of social and economic development, and should be equally available to all the residents. Frustrations are understandably compounded with the direction of governments to place increased emphasis on telecommunications, with the goal of accessible and reliable enhancements to benefit businesses and residents, from the opportunities and benefits associated with the electronic highway.

The ability to utilize all modes of communication is vital for Canadians to meet our evolving needs and increased reliance on that technology. It is a service that should be available in not only urban centres but also rural communities.

Le service téléphonique privé est une composante fondamentale et intégrale du développement économique et social et devrait être à la disposition de tous les résidents et résidentes, à titre égal. Évidemment, les frustrations deviennent de plus en plus grandes puisque les gouvernements insistent davantage sur les télécommunications, dans le but d'offrir des modifications fiables et accessibles au bénéfice des commerces et des résidents, afin qu'ils puissent profiter des occasions et des avantages associés à l'autoroute électronique.

La capacité de pouvoir utiliser tous les moyens de communications est essentielle aux Canadiens et Canadiennes, pour répondre à leurs besoins croissants et vu leur dépendance accrue de cette technologie. C'est un service qui devrait être disponible non seulement dans les grande agglomérations urbaines mais également dans toutes les communautés rurales.

Under-serviced communities have lobbied Northern Telephone Limited for improved service for years, and although the Company is committed to providing quality service to customers, the high costs and low revenues associated with upgrading make it impossible for the company to undertake such a significant capital investment where there is little revenues to recover such costs.

It is also unreasonable to expect these residents to singularly recover an approximate cost of $6,500 per customer to receive private-line service. It is inevitable that the only way we will ever see these infrastructure improvements become a reality is through the intervention and commitment by senior level of government to provide direct funding for upgrading of telephone service to private-line service.

On behalf of the more than 30,000 residents of the Coalition area, I urge the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission to seriously consider the impediments being faced by many residents and implement changes and initiatives which would result in tangible improvements to telephone servicing.

Au nom des plus de 30 000 résidents et résidentes de la région représentée par la Coalition, j'exhorte le Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes à songer sérieusement aux obstacles que doivent surmonter plusieurs résidents et résidentes et de mettre en oeuvre des changements et des initiatives qui produiraient des améliorations tangibles au service téléphonique.

Merci de votre attention.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci, M. Bourgeois.

M. Bourgeois, vous mentionnez qu'il y a à peu près 30 000 résidents dans la région que vous représentez aujourd'hui?

M. BOURGEOIS: C'est ça.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Est-ce que je peux retourner avec vous à la page 2 où vous dites qu'il y a 12 000 habitants, ou 12 000 résidences ou lieu d'affaires, je suppose, qui ont soit une ligne privée ou une ligne...

M. BOURGEOIS: Semi-privée.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: ...avec deux -- oui, semi -- et ensuite, 1 500 où il y aurait quatre...

M. BOURGEOIS: Abonnés.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: ...abonnés par ligne. Est-ce que ça veut dire que si je soustrais de 30 000, j'aurais tous ces gens-là qui restent qui n'ont pas de service, ou c'est parce que vous parlez de 30 000 résidents plutôt que 30 000 résidences peut-être?

M. BOURGEOIS: C'est 30 000 résidents et non 30 000 résidences.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Résidents. Alors, il y a un service quelconque partout?

M. BOURGEOIS: Il y a un service quelconque, mais certainement pas adéquat.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et qui n'est pas adéquat parce que c'est soit deux résidences par ligne ou même quatre résidences par ligne?

M. BOURGEOIS: Ou même quatre... c'est ça.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et je comprends très bien. Je suis assez âgée pour me souvenir, venant d'une petite ville, tous les problèmes... je pourrais en rajouter. Un des problèmes des lignes qui sont partagées c'est souvent qu'on se fait punir par nos parents, puis, on ne sait pas trop comment ils ont appris ce qu'on a dit au téléphone, et c'est la voisine qui l'a répété.

Nous comprenons très bien les inquiétudes des gens qui n'ont, en ce moment, que ce service, et je suppose que pour vous les priorités seraient de desservir ces gens-là avant de faire autre chose. Et quel serait votre avis? Nous entendons parler, par exemple, de secteurs où il n'y a pas de service téléphonique. À votre avis, est-ce que ce serait la première priorité?

M. BOURGEOIS: Je réalise très bien que le secteur où il n'y a pas de ligne téléphonique a certainement priorité, mais la seconde priorité serait ceux qui sont sur les semi-privés et les quatre abonnés, tel je suis.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Oui. Est-ce que vous entrevoyez ce qui a été suggéré par plusieurs partis, que il sera nécessaire d'avoir une subvention quelconque pour pouvoir arriver à offrir un service adéquat dans ces régions-là où évidemment, puisqu'il y a moins de gens par kilomètre, c'est un peu plus difficile d'offrir un service adéquat au coût similaire?

M. BOURGEOIS: Je le crois fermement, parce que, à maintes reprises, nous avons rencontré les officiers de Northern Telephone, et ils nous disent qu'ils n'ont pas assez de "pair"... de paires-là pour desservir les gens adéquatement pour des lignes privées et puis que, si ils le faisaient, ça leur coûterait par résident ou par abonné 6 500 $. Alors, c'est un prix qui est inacceptable pour le résident et pour la compagnie pour desservir les gens.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Oui, parce que, à votre avis, l'amortissement de ces coûts-là nécessiterait quand même des prix inabordables qui éventuellement sont semblables à pas avoir de service amélioré puisque c'est trop dispendieux.

M. BOURGEOIS: C'est ça.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Nous vous remercions de votre présentation, M. Bourgeois.

M. BOURGEOIS: Merci beaucoup.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Je crois que --

I think this may be a good time to take a 10-minute break. We are running a little behind, so if you would all be back in 10 minutes.

Also, I would like to point out at this time that you may find as the day progresses we have less time to engage in conversation with presenters. It is not lack of interest, it is that we want to make sure that before a reasonable time tonight we have heard everyone who wants to be heard. So we ask for your indulgence. We are interested in everybody's comments, and they will all be on the record.

Thank you.

So we will see you back in 10 minutes, which should be approximately five to 4:00.

--- Recessed at 1545/Suspension à 1545

--- Resumed at 1559/Reprise à 1559

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam.

We shall now go to Kirkland Lake, Dr. Rick Denton.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Dr. Denton.

DR. DENTON (Remote): Good afternoon, Madam Chair, Andrée Wylie and Mr. Cardozo, and members of the CRTC.

On behalf of Kirkland Lake Town Council and the citizens of Kirkland Lake, it is my pleasure to make this presentation to you in what I believe to be support of the modernization of communications in Northeastern Ontario for all the citizens.

I would like to thank Walter Gray from Northern College for making this technology possible that we are being able to communicate together. I would agree with everything that Mr. Gray had said, although just to remind him that Kirkland Lake was the original campus and we sort of look on Timmins as the satellite. In supporting you, Madam Chair, we believe that your interpretation is correct.

I am Richard Denton. I am the Mayor of Kirkland Lake and I am also a medical doctor who has been on a party line. I would like to make three points here today: (1) dealing with fiber optics, (2) party lines, and (3) cost.

As I indicated to you in my letter of May 20th, I feel very strongly that we must come into the 21st century and have access to fiber optic and digital capabilities in our communication systems. Locally, we have three institutions that currently have video and audio communications, and our hospital is wanting to digitally transmit data as well.

In support of my position, and that of our council, I submit that it is imperative that audio-video communication be upgraded, particularly in the medical field, where being located in a remote area it is more than just desirable to have a means by which to consult and transmit various data to southern hospitals for consideration by specialists and for advanced diagnostic techniques.

It would certainly be my submission that there is less cost associated with data transmission than there would be to physically transport the patient to areas in the south or to obtain a diagnosis in the usual fashion or in that, of course, of bringing the specialist to our location.

Another area is party lines. In the surrounding area, they are currently using the rotary dial and technologies that are back in the dark ages.

I agree with the previous speaker, Laurier Bourgeois, and the problem of party lines, because I have been there and I certainly echo all his complaints with that.

Myself, just this past week, I was hit by lightning -- our phone line was hit, knocking it out. It got repaired fairly quickly, but I am still unable to access my e-mail on the computer because the line has a hum on it.

As to the upgrade of party lines, I think it is a well-known fact that the fastest-growing industries in Canada are those related to home occupations. Those who are on party lines are excluded from modern telecommunication techniques that are available to single-line users.

These specialty services on which businesses rely include the use of modern machinery: computers, fax, internet service, multiple-line service, e-mail. It would seem somewhat discriminatory that purely because you are on a party line you are unable to access such modern technology that is considered normal day-to-day equipment in other areas of the province.

These people are currently disadvantaged because single-line service in areas currently on party lines is at an inordinately high cost or connection cost to access single-line service. I am given to understand that this could be in the order of $4500 for such connections.

Ours, as a community as a whole, recognizes the benefits of single-line service and would certainly appreciate having such availability for all users of the communications system, and it is with this that I certainly support our M.P., Ben Serré, as he has been instrumental in getting petitions going in this area.

Another area which I am interested in is getting 9-1-1 service into our area, and this is somewhat precluded because party lines are in use within our municipality. This situation has hindered our progress in developing a cost-effective and efficient 9-1-1 service for our municipality and the outlying areas.

Finally, cost. Our last facet of current telecommunications in the North is the fact that other areas of Ontario and Canada enjoy the competition in long distance telecommunications markets. Currently, we do not have an alternate carrier available to us, and it is disappointing that we do not have a full-fledged competitive market when it comes to this particular service, one which is unavailable to all consumers, both residential and corporate, but attractive when you consider the competition in the south.

But I would like to state though that, to me, the bottom line is that we would like service comparable to the other areas of the province, namely that of fiber optics, and getting rid of the party lines at a fair market price. And so whether this means bringing in competition or not, I leave that to your judgment, but I think that is what we are aiming for.

Telecommunications is a fast-paced industry, hinged on the use of fiber optic lines and the need to communicate in a highly competitive environment. Unfortunately, it appears that the Northeastern sector of Ontario has fallen behind when it comes to this particular technology, and I hope that you, the CRTC, will listen and accept the need for modernization in our particular area of the province.

We support the efforts of the previous speakers to get fiber optic usage for our area. We agree with the Chrysalis project and the Northern Ontario Community Network. We would like to be able to have our local hospital be able to access this line here at Northern College or the line over at the Veterans Affairs Centre and be able to plug into that.

It has been my impression that our communications carrier, Northern Telephone, has made efforts toward full modernization. However, it is up to your body to determine how far they may proceed.

I would certainly, on behalf of our municipality and in support of our neighbours, request that you give due consideration to allowing full modernization for all our customers in this system.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mayor Denton, Dr. Denton. You make me envious. You have two titles and I'm merely Chairman for the day.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Hey, I have a title. Thank you very much.

I just have a couple of questions, Mayor. Just a clarification: In Kirkland Lake do residents only have access to multi-party lines or do some have single lines and some only multi-party lines?

DR. DENTON: In Kirkland Lake, we have two interchanges: the 5-6-7 interchange, and those are all individual lines; we also have a 6-4-2 interchange which includes the party lines, and it is that area where we run into problems with 9-1-1 areas where people cannot utilize computers, et cetera.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Am I right then that the 9-1-1 is not available in the 5-6-7 area either?

DR. DENTON: Well again, as Mayor you want to provide service to all your residents of the community, and if you can only provide it to half, it does not seem very fair. So this is what we are trying to work on is how to overcome difficulties with using outdated technology, rotary dials, party lines in the 6-4-2 interchange.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay, but just for my clarification, at this point 9-1-1 service is not available in either exchange?

DR. DENTON: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: You mentioned with regards to competition that there isn't much. I'm wondering what competitor you do have serving in your area.

DR. DENTON: Well, that's the point. There is no competition to Northern Tel. We don't have access to Sprint or any of those other carriers. But where I qualify that is, as Mayor I have looked at several other industries where we have had deregulation, and where that has been brought in sometimes we have -- the fear is that we might lose service even more.

So I think the point that we are trying to make is that we want the service to come into the 21st century with fiber optics, get rid of the party line, and yet do it at a reasonable cost.

And it is, therefore, to you people that we look as to what is the best mechanism to do that. Is that to bring in competition through other carriers or is it to give Northern Tel, a Bell subsidiary, the go-ahead to modernize and to equalize the costs over their large networks?

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Thanks very much. That really sums up your views very concisely and gives us a neat package that we can understand.


THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Dr. Denton, Mr. Mayor.

DR. DENTON: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I failed to indicate before we started, that we will take a break from 5:30 to 6:30, if that can be helpful to some of you. We will get as far as we can by then, but break for that hour and resume at that time.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenters will be Jim Grayston, Marcel Bélair, Arleen Reinsborough.






MR. GRAYSTON: Thank you very much for having the opportunity to speak to you today.

My name is Jim Grayston and I represent the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association. The area of coverage that we represent is an area that takes you from about Parry Sound through Huntsville to Deep River, north to James Bay, and from Quebec to Manitoba.

We represent the interests of about 1,600 resource-based tourism businesses. About 25 per cent of those are fly-in businesses into outpost camps. To survive, our businesses need a very high-quality fish, wildlife and wilderness, and by the nature of our product we find most of our businesses in high-cost service areas.

We first became interested in this topic last year at our annual convention when we had a representative in from Bell Canada to talk to us about tele-marketing, and as opposed to talking about tele-marketing most of the time we talked about the quality of the service and the cost to get that service. In fact, most of the things offered under tele-marketing weren't available to our people, just based on the kinds of radiophones and telephones that they have.

Certainly after that convention we began to receive calls from numerous operators all telling us of their particular situation and particular problems, so it was great to have this opportunity to be able to come in and give you some of the information that I have collected.

What I would like to do is I have just picked four examples -- I could have picked many more -- and I tried to give some geographical representation of those examples and just give you a little bit of an idea of what the industry is facing.

The first camp I would like to talk about is one that is near Field, Ontario, which is north of Sturgeon Falls. This camp is only about 8.5 miles from the nearest town with regular wired telephone service. The service is by radiophone to the lodge and cellular is used as a supplement.

This company had to get a radio tower installed in order to have its radiophone. Actually, it went over two phases, and the first phase was not effective.

They added an extension to it, with a total cost of $5,300 to that business. The monthly rate that they pay is $129, plus toll and cellular charges, and their annual bill is $7,103.46. So it is fairly substantial. It's a mom and pop operation, a very small housekeeping resort with about five cabins. So this is fairly extensive to have this kind of bill.

Part of their problem is, though, that they can't move into the modern era by having some of the other features that normal businesses can have, things like call forwarding, even a basic fax, answering machines, to get on the internet or have e-mail. Those things just aren't possible to this business.

Incoming and outgoing calls are impeded by being on a party line with up to other four telephones, in fact, only receiving about one-quarter of the service of an individual line.

The second example I wanted to give you is a lodge that is located near Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater, which is fairly close to New Liskeard, Ontario. This lodge waited over two years just to receive telephone service after the lodge was in place. Their monthly charge is $162 for the basic rate, and the annual cost is about $7,900. They are on a four-party-line system.

This business tried to utilize the 1-800 service and actually had one put in. The 1-800 service line goes into a residence in Hamilton, and in order to get the calls at the lodge, the calls have to be forwarded with long distance charges added on from Hamilton to Haileybury. So in addition to paying the 1-800 service, they also pay for long distance to get the calls up.

Because they were on a party line last year the 800 number activity report counted over 300 phone calls to the lodge which could not get through because of the party line being tied up with other parties on the line. The lost business was estimated at about $32,000. That is $32,000 lost business just because those 1-800 calls couldn't get through.

The next example I wanted to provide was an example in Savant Lake, Ontario, which is about an hour and-a-half drive north of Ignace.

This business' costs for telephone are approximately $11,000 annually. They had received verbal agreement some time ago that a toll free area would be extended about 70 miles to Sioux Lookout. You can imagine trying to run business when you are running an American plan lodge which has to provide groceries, gasoline, boats and motor service, bait service, you have to be able to access building materials, ceramic materials, different things to keep your lodge going.

The only retail in Sioux Lookout is one motel, one restaurant, one gas station and one very small grocery store. Everything they need with basic service they have to get from Sioux Lookout, so every time they make a phone call it's a long distance call. So you can imagine, that is why their bill is up at $11,000 annually, just because every time they make a phone call, either to Ignace or Sioux Lookout, it's long distance.

The last example I wanted to give you was an example out of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, and this business is a fly-in American lodge business where the guests fly out of Sioux Lookout, but they fly about 150 miles into a lodge. Her phone bill on radiophone is about $4,000 annually.

And their service is extremely bad. The telephone was down this past two weeks. I had phoned her to get some information and she said "My phone was just down". She had to fly a Bell Telephone crew in at a cost of $400, and it turned out that the problem wasn't at her end, it was at the other end.

They can now call. They fixed it, but the reception is terrible. And because of the party line they can't get through after seven o'clock at all, which proves to be very dangerous in an emergency situation.

These are just some examples that I could give you, and with 1,600 businesses you can imagine how many more I might be able to provide. These businesses are, as I said, small businesses, family run businesses. Some of them are in the third generation.

We feel that research, development and funding for new wireless communications must continue to provide better cellular, even satellite technology. Rural and remote areas need immediate access to this new technology to compete in the global marketplace.

To give you an idea of competition for us, those 1,600 lodges, most of the clientele that we utilize are U.S. guests, predominantly U.S. guests. Our form of marketing, because of the inability to use other kinds, is very intensive marketing, hands-on marketing where we go to U.S. sports shows for January, February and March of every year.

But to rely on the bookings and the bookings that come from that very intensive marketing we have to have quality phone service. The 1,600 businesses right now are spending between January 1st and March 31st about $29 million just to market Ontario. It's an awful lot of money, an awful lot of time if you don't have the phone service, the capability of phone service to at least be able to retrieve the phone calls from the business that you hope to acquire.

Right now, because of either party lines, radiotelephones and the competition on those services, and then not having the availability to utilize fax machines, or even the internet, it has made it extremely difficult.

Having individual telephone lines by the year 2001 is an admirable goal, but may come too late as businesses are already suffering from not being able to respond quickly to inquiries.

Funding of important infrastructure programs and competition should be encouraged between carriers to speed up the delivery of improved service to businesses in remote areas. Affordable and quality of service must be monitored in the HCSA areas closely, especially once the new regulations are put in place.

Thank you very much, that is all I have.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Grayston.

Because of the particular interest that you represent today, would I be right to think that the quality of the service you get is of greater importance than the cost --


THE CHAIRPERSON: -- what it may cost you?


THE CHAIRPERSON: Because I gathered from the example where someone could identify the loss of some --

MR. GRAYSTON: Thirty-two thousand.

THE CHAIRPERSON: -- $32,000 in business that there would be a willingness by the businesses that you are speaking about to pay a cost that recognizes the higher cost of getting service to these areas.

MR. GRAYSTON: Yes. I would like --

THE CHAIRPERSON: What you want is quality private line service, access to fax, et cetera?

MR. GRAYSTON: Of course you can realize, I mentioned earlier -- you mentioned earlier you wanted to keep your job, and I guess I have to keep mine too, so I certainly couldn't agree to -- it would depend on the level --

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I understand.

MR. GRAYSTON: It would depend on the level of cost.

But certainly, the reason for me quoting those costs was simply because the service isn't there. You know, they are paying an exorbitant amount of money and they don't have access to even basic things that small business has in urban centres.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I want to put it on the record, I only said that in case my husband reads the transcript.


THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Grayston.

MR. GRAYSTON: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: It was nice hearing from you.

MR. GRAYSTON: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter is Marcel Bélair.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Bélair. We are ready to hear you.

MR. BÉLAIR: Good afternoon. I am representing Star Lake Area Telephone Committee.

Now, first I want to say that after many requests and letters, meetings from our committee, we are still unable to get the basic telephone service. When I mean "basic", I mean we don't have a line in. We have to resort to the cell that was offered to us, let's see, going back it would be three years ago, which is very expensive.

Between Big Star, Little Star and Keefer Lake and Opishing, I represent over 150 homeowners and cottage owners. From a survey we did in 1990, out of 115 properties 110 requested telephone service, which is 96 per cent.

Most of the 70-plus permanent residents have been there for 10 years or more. Many are seniors and are older people. In that time we have had near fatalities, emergencies and fatalities, and I just wonder if we would have had the telephone at that time some of these could have been prevented.

More people are retiring their summer homes, and it's a trend, and some of them are not going there because, simply, we don't have the telephone. What are we going to do?

We have hydro, and it has been there for over 20 years. We have maintained roads, and it has been like that for over 10 years. I know for the road because I have been Chairman for eight years.

So the distance of the closest telephone regular service is eight kilometres away on one side, which is Mother Bell, and 15 kilometres on the other side, which is Timmins, Northern Telephone. Now, Timmins from the centre core to Star Lake is 20 kilometres, but from the boundary of Timmins we are about 2,000 feet.

Now, at present some have radiotelephones which cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to get installed, and after that it is $150 a month. For people who don't know about radiophones, anybody that has a CB can pick up the communication that goes on a radiophone. So no secret can be told on a radiophone.

Now, going back to cellular, I represent that too because I have kind of made most of the installation at Star Lake, and the cheapest installation that you can get is from $450, and it can run you up to $1,700 to $2,000.

On the package I have myself, I pay $49.95 a month, plus $0.50 a minute. So you can imagine if you are tempted to talk on the telephone you can run up a bill pretty fast. I have seen the bills, some of the lowest at $400, and some of the highest at $800 a month. It's funny what you are going to do when you are without a service.

Now, in a letter from Northern Telephone of October 27th, 1997, Northern Telephone is ready to update places close to ourselves like Ramore, Matheson, Iroquois Falls, Matachewan, Larder Lake, Virginiatown and Opishing. When I see something like that, they want to update the system they have, but we have nothing. We want the basic service.

As some of the people that are moving in a small community, we also have children who would love to get on the internet, but we can't even hook up a computer. So it's pretty sad.

So I could go on and on, but I want to keep my presentation short. So again, I would implore to you if it is at all possible, we would like to get the basic service.

So I thank you all.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Bélair.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Just to clarify, the area you are representing, is it 144 homes or so?

MR. BÉLAIR: A hundred and fifty homes.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: A hundred and fifty homes. And the entire area gets no basic telephone service at all?

MR. BÉLAIR: No basic telephone service whatsoever.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: So how near is the nearest phone? Is there a payphone nearby?

MR. BÉLAIR: No. Like I say, there are three people who have those radiophones --


MR. BÉLAIR: -- one that is in the restaurant, or the liquor board that is right there, and they are reluctant to let just anybody use it. Some that do can afford it, well they have it, but you don't want to go knock at your neighbour "Can I use your phone?" You can do it once or twice, but then after that it's a no-no.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: So what do you do?

MR. BÉLAIR: Well, people like me that needed a telephone, because I have been Chairman of three different organizations, I put in a cellular phone.


MR. BÉLAIR: And it cost me quite a bit of money. Some others have put cell phones in, and they are reluctant to use it because, depending on the system that you are on, you are going to pay $0.50 a minute, and some have no free time so they are a little reluctant to use their phone.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. That covers my questions.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Bélair.

We will have your written presentation on the record, and we appreciate your participation.

MR. BÉLAIR: Okay. With the paperwork that I have given you, it's not recent as the date, but it is the same objectives.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. And you understand, you may not have been here when we reminded people, that should you want to update the material or make further representations to us, you have until January 30th, 1999, assuming you don't have telephone by then.

MR. BÉLAIR: Thank you very much.


Madam Secretary.

THE SECRETARY: Our next presenter will be Arleen Reinsborough.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Ms Reinsborough.

MS REINSBOROUGH: Good afternoon, Madam Chair, Commissioner Cardozo, members of the panel, fellow citizens.

I am witnessing here today as a private citizen and not as a member of many groups to which I belong. This is a private testimonial.

When I moved to Northern Ontario from Southern Ontario in 1996, I was appalled at the lack of options for what I considered to be essential phone service in southern Ontario. In Toronto I had call waiting, call display, call trace, call identify and four private lines.

I was interested in purchasing a property on the outskirts of Iroquois Falls in Northern Ontario. The exchange is 2-3-2. This property had an existing private line. I was told that the existing private line would be taken out and a party line put in. I refused to make an offer on the property because I needed access to e-mail to maintain my business in southern Ontario. I have a business called "Computer Ease"(ph) and it is technology, therefore I need e-mail.

Then the legal counsel for this property sale called the phone company and stated that if the sale was rejected on those specific grounds litigation might occur. Suddenly we had a private line that was not available to us before, but were insolently told not to even think about a second line for a dedicated hard fax until hell froze over.

Doctors in our area buy out all the party lines on their exchange in order to get unavailable private lines. Now, isn't that lucrative.

These are only two of the many horror stories that I have heard since I moved here in '96.

However, recently I had a fire in my house. It was a propane furnace. Flames were shooting out of the propane furnace, and I have a bit propane tank for storage outside that could blow up several houses on our street. I tried 9-1-1, not thinking that we didn't have service here and, of course, that was a dead line.

I had to hang up and try to dial the fire department. But because I am on a digital phone line that dials faster than the lines can accept the call, I kept getting the message "I'm sorry, the number you are trying to reach is currently out of service." My house was going to go on fire, and I really -- at that point I was quite upset.

So eventually, after trying this twice, I hung up, waited five -- counted five so that the line would disconnect, then I called the operator, and waited until the operator answered, because we have fewer operators now, and waited until she could connect me to the fire department.

If Canada wants remote Canadian communities like ours to enter into the 21st century, then we need the equipment to do the job. Canada supports the role of technology on a worldwide scale. Canada supports the global marketplace and even the global think-tank concepts. If we don't improve and support service in our remote backyards, we can expect to become, and some say we already are, a third world country.

Do we want to offer low paying jobs or high unemployment and ignorance to remote areas of Canada while offering high paying tech jobs in chosen metro areas? Is this what we want to do?

By not offering the same opportunities in remote and metropolitan areas alike, Canada will be upholding a two-tier economic system, the rich, literate high consumer-based areas like that of Toronto, and the illiterate subsidized and poverty stricken remote areas like that of Northern Ontario.

This is highly discriminating, to say the least. Does the CRTC support this inequity in Canada? Does the CRTC wish to be part of the development of such inequity by first classifying any remote area as a "high-cost service area" in your own hand-outs.

When the CRTC uses terms like this, they have already labelled service as being for a select few and little to no for the rest. If we remote dwellers must follow jobs in the mining and forestry sectors to remote areas where they exist, does this mean that the phone service will penalize us for doing this?

Our children also suffer equally, because technology in metro areas is a given for our children, but when we move up North we can't get plugged in with getting first a private line. There is no vision towards the future or towards growth here.

On the subject, I had a very competitive rate for services from service providers of e-mail and i-net access in the south. I was paying $30 for unlimited access. I could be on-line -- my company could go on-line in the morning, stay on 24 hours a day, never get off, so that we could actually exchange files in a hot mode across the day.

Well, here we get service at $2 per hour for five hours, and then we get $1 an hour after that. I could not afford to be on-line and do business this way.

Further, the lines are impossible to access in reality times. For example, if I try to get on in the evening between 7:00 and 11:00 when the students are on, I can't, and I'm always getting cut off in the middle of a transcript of a longer file, or a more difficult file.

Northern Telephone, a subsidiary of Mamma Bell, has had plenty of time to figure out that the North is remote and sparsely populated. It should have had a schedule and a plan for upgrading and improving their equipment and service on a regular basis and in a timely fashion years ago.

Instead, this blue chip giant appears with hat in hand at CRTC hearings, and successfully pleads its case in order to get an extension allowing them to continue to offer existing levels of service -- which are, in my opinion, very poor -- a poor level of service that would not be tolerated in many third world nations.

Who is the CRTC mandated to represent, the interests of the blue chip corporate giant and its subsidiaries, or those of us, the general public.

When competitive telephony service providers show an interest in promoting alternative services to the North, we see advertisements appearing in local papers suggesting that local phone service is being improved. This causes any potential competition to move on and things stay the same. I'm tired of this tactic and expect the CRTC, who are, I believe, a regulator, to finally step in and mandate change to begin with a realistic date, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime.

You asked certain questions on this form that you sent us, and I have answered them to the best of my abilities.

One of the questions you asked was:

"What should be the obligations of the telephone company or their competitors with respect to providing telephone service in high-cost areas?" (As read)

In every case I have objected to the labelling of "high-cost areas" as being that of the North.

Secondly, their obligations should be the very same to remote areas as in metro areas. Their projected profits should be based on one high-cost area balancing out a low-cost area. Balancing their profit margins versus their commitment to maintain the same service for all should be an achievable goal for any blue chip TSE company and its subsidiaries.

I had my own company for several years, seven years, five of those through a very bad recession, and I knew that when I went to a customer and I said something was going to cost something, if it came in over budget I had to try to make it up somewhere else. So you do do a balancing act no matter what company you own.

The company should be a trendsetter in this area and not ask the general public, that they are supposed to serve, how to remain solvent while maintaining and improving service. Does their solvency depend on not servicing remote areas, or by servicing remote areas at outrageous prices that local people cannot pay? Does their solvency depend on inequity in Canada?

The second question you asked:

"If subsidies are required for high-cost service areas, what service should be eligible for subsidies and how should any subsidy be funded?" (As read)

Again I object to the labelling of "high-cost areas".

Secondly, we already have corporate tax forgiveness, grants for profit-making sectors, and even property tax forgiveness in large and small metro areas. We have Ontario Heritage Fund grants, we have FedNor Telecommunications grants, so how much more private sector welfare should taxpayers be asked to fund.

If the North is part of Canada then the same set of criteria for service and technical access should be available to us too.

Many current federally and provincially funded programs are funding to give the North technology skills and attempting to upgrade and promote technological education in the North and create new jobs, such as HRDC, which is Human Resources Development Canada, and CAP, which is the Community Access Program, and many others.

Meanwhile, the phone service is far too inadequate to provide the experiencing of that particular skill level. Again, Canadians pay the bills for these conflicting programs.

There appears to be a conflict between what we can achieve because we haven't the phone equipment to achieve it.

Can we have technology up North, and will the CRTC mandate that the phone company divert some of its funds to make this happen, or should people in remote areas all be relocated that offer existing services at extremely high costs to the federal government. Are we part of Canada or not? If so, we would like to be full members and we want more than the ability to pay taxes and get very little in return.

The third question you asked is:

"What type of technologies are acceptable for high-cost or remote areas?" (As read)

Again I object to the labelling of "high-cost areas".

Secondly, I cannot understand why this question would be asked by the CRTC of the general public, of which I am a member. I am suspicious that it may be a ploy used to support a future plan to justify increases in basic phone rates and access costs in remote areas because we are being labelled as high-cost by the CRTC itself.

I really don't care what technology you use. We would just like it now so that we can be competitive and we can offer jobs to our youth in areas that are now going to southern Ontario, and that is technical areas.

In conclusion, services long overdue to remote areas like Northern Ontario, and the CRTC should mandate it to happen now without delay and leave the corporate whiners to figure out how to make it happen.

In conclusion again, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to access you and for your attempt to access the general public and for your advertisement of these meetings and public hearings in remote areas like ours.

Thank you very much.


--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Reinsborough.

Are you objecting to the suggestion in our public notice that to serve certain areas of the country because of density, and therefore return on one's investment, that it is not any more costly to serve certain areas than others where the density is high, or is it because your view is that telephone companies should somehow find a way without any further intervention to balance out the costs in the two?

I'm not quite sure why you object to -- we are not suggesting, of course, that it's high cost on all grounds. The suggestion is that there are areas where the costs of providing service because of density may well be higher than Toronto, with which you are familiar for example.

MS REINSBOROUGH: I am objecting to your words alone in asking those three questions, and in all cases you referred to the services in these areas as "high-cost areas", and I cannot conclude as to why you would have used those words. I would assume that it would be because you feel we are sparsely populated. That's an assumption on my part.

However, being a businesswoman myself, I can tell you that, you know, when you go out to bid on a project you bid as closely as you can to come in either under budget or at least at budget, and for a large corporation like Bell and Northern Telephone, or all of their subsidiaries that do have stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange, they should be even better at bidding on these kinds of services than I am, being a small businesswoman.

So my objection is to the CRTC using those words because it sort of sets up a trend to set it up as a high-cost area. First of all, has anyone asked us if we would like to be identified as a high-cost area?

THE CHAIRPERSON: Ms Reinsborough, you therefore conclude that the whole exercise of exploring the possibility of a fund or subsidies flowing from some regions where there may be at least a premise that it is less costly to serve towards those that are more costly to serve, you feel is unnecessary?

MS REINSBOROUGH: I feel it could be unnecessary were the company in charge of giving the service in the first place capable of balancing their costs out across the entire country. You know, it's not fair for Toronto to pay so little and the wages in Toronto are so high and there is so much employment, and here in the North where people have much less dollars to float around have to pay far much -- much more for any service at all.

THE CHAIRPERSON: May I ask you then, if you were to return to Toronto to pursue the business you were pursuing there and that you are now pursuing here, as a Canadian citizen would you have a problem with knowing that you are paying more now in Toronto than and the reason is because there are areas of the country where costs have to be balanced or subsidized. I hesitate to use words that may offend you.

But as a Canadian, would you find that an acceptable proposition?

MS REINSBOROUGH: I would find it equitable. And I think that's what our government is looking toward now, is being equitable and fair, and especially since the government seems to be promoting technology and the possibility of doing business everywhere. I can't.

I moved up here with my husband because his job was up here in the North, and I could not bring my business with me because I couldn't do the same technical contacts that I needed and was able to do in the south. And the people in the south were very upset because they lost me as a partner as well.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So we may be much closer, the Commission and you, in vision. It's just that we seem to approach it with different words. In other words, you want some methodology whereby equity would be more present in the system and that certain areas -- I don't want to get into the argument of whether it is more costly to serve certain areas than others, but that there is a spread of whatever those costs are so that everybody gets decent service.

MS REINSBOROUGH: Absolutely. I see this as being more of a global position rather than more of a parochial position, and I believe that if we look at Toronto and say to Toronto -- well, if Toronto said to us, as a businesswoman from Toronto, if I said "Hey, look it, you know, we are paying to subsidize you up North", that would be very parochial of me. And I think I am a more of a global person than that.

We belong to a very big world now, we can't look at Toronto as being only part of it. I'm a Northern Ontario person now and I belong to a bigger world.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Ms Reinsborough.


THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenters, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenters will be Andy Butler, Cathy Peever and Gilles Forget.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Butler.

M. BUTLER: Bienvenue à Timmins.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci beaucoup.

MR. BUTLER: Welcome to Timmins, but you would have been better off doing this in Iroquois Falls and Nellie Lake because this is where most of these people come from.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh yes. Well, we do what we can. And, as you can see, we have these marvellous links so you may see some of your neighbours on TV.

MR. BUTLER: Is this a party line thing? No?

--- Laughter/Rires

THE CHAIRPERSON: No. Unfortunately, I run the show.

--- Laughter/Rires

MR. BUTLER: I think we could cajole a bit, because I'm serious now. I'm getting very serious.

My name is Andy Butler and I live at Nellie Lake. I am a party line user, and I'm frustrated, I'm angry, and after 10 years of fruitless efforts my patience is long since exhausted. I might say that I have not concluded any concern for political correctness in my presentation.

For my opening remarks I would like to thank Ben Serré for his help and support towards improving our communications services. Gilles Bisson also deserves our appreciation for his assistance to our cause.

The different sections of my presentation are as follows: Section 1 would be our telephone service, what we have today; followed by what we want; followed by what we need; and then section 5 would be Northern Telephone, a performance appraisal; and number 6 would be services upgrade completion? When? At What cost? And who pays?

What we have. I will give you a short history lesson here. The areas communication system consisted of a long single length of string attached to two tin cans. For the next technology breakthrough the length of string was replaced with a length of copper and four or more tin cans were added. This they called a party line.

To list the many, many deficiencies and problems with party lines would require more time than I have available today, so I will describe only those which are more important to we, the Nellie Lake residents.

For instance, business. Trying to run a business with a party line is impossible. Customers will stop calling if your line is always busy or if there is no answer simply because you stepped out of the audible range of your telephone ring.

The Nellie Lake area, I might add, includes a motel, a restaurant, a wine supply store, et cetera, et cetera.

And we have a one industry town in the Nellie Lake area and it's a paper mill. Obviously, for the summer months our students, our university students rely on shifts to be able to go back to school. This also includes the spare workers down there, they have to be phoned. Well, if the mill phones them, be it at any time of the 24-hour period of the day and there is a busy signal, they just go to the next guy. So if you are on party lines your chances of getting called in are much less.

The costs. CRTC -- correct me if I'm wrong on this -- said sometime back that customers could use equipment from any supplier. They didn't have to go to the supplier that was giving them the service. Not with NorTel. We can't even buy our equipment. We must rent it at a cost of $2 for rotary phone, $2 a month, and $8 for a push button. That's not tone, that's regular push button. Instead of rolling like this, you roll like that.

Also, if you have a little bit of a problem with your group that you are in and you want to change lines because of various problems, there is a $33 fee there.

Another thing -- that possibly yourselves would not appreciate all that much -- is the party lines is hard, not only on the customers but also on the family and friends, et cetera. They call us and get no answer or they get a busy line. And we have no answering machine. A party line and an answering machine are the minimum. But we can't have an answering machine on a party line.

Property values. Well, obviously property values are certainly affected adversely by party lines.

Quality of life. That's self-explanatory.

Privacy. Again, self-explanatory, especially for conversations with doctors, business associates, schools, lawyers, et cetera, et cetera.

Internet accessibility. This is a problem. The lack of such is a problem for students, investors, shut-ins, et cetera.

How would you like it if you were a retired person and at 6:15 every morning of the week somebody on your line received a wake up call? It's an inconvenience.

I could go on and on, but right now I will just give you a little story of a personal experience of mine. It's not easy for me to do, because I'm sure that all the males in this room know that the male ego has a great deal of problem with us describing or admitting to some physical or medical deficiency or problem.

On January 22nd, 1977 I was at home alone when I started to feel pain and a pressure sensation in my chest. It was subsequently diagnosed as a heart attack.

I picked up my phone, but somebody else was on the line. I mentioned a serious medical emergency and the person freed the line to allow me to call the hospital. I then tried to call my neighbour for help, but again somebody was on my line.

Now, there are two other people again that are not involved in here, so rather than make sure that I could eventually get out and that I could get a call back, I didn't want to tie up the line, so I went outside to my truck and retrieved my cell phone, and again tried to call my neighbour, but now her line was busy. Incidently, my truck was outside in the middle of January, and that's not very warm, not a place for a guy who is having a heart attack to go.

After five or 10 very long minutes of repeated tries I reached my neighbour and she came over to help me while waiting for the ambulance. I went to the hospital and I have fully recovered, I think.

Two weeks later my wife drove to town to look after some pressing personal affairs. While there she tried to call me five times between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m., but our line was busy. Out of concern she returned home earlier than originally planned.

It was obvious that we needed a reliable two-way communication system, and fortunately and I was able to borrow a second cell phone for the three month doctor suggested recovery period.

This personal experience is a vivid and, to me, drastic reminder that party lines can be a serious risk to a person's health and, yes, even his life. Think about that. Think about that.

The second section is what we want. Well, firstly -- and this will be on for all three parts here -- we want a private line so that we can use an answering machine on it. What we would want.

We would also want internet access, fax machine, e-mail, call display, call waiting, call return, call trace, call blocking, speed calling, plus any other newfangled equipment which might come on the market. That's what we want.

But we all know that life's expectations lie somewhere between what we want and what we actually need. Now, what we need, and this is like I just told you, we need, firstly, a private line, and to go with that the available answering machine. You could include an internet.

The above, which to many would be the very basic necessities, to us would be like an invitation to join the modern world.

Section number 5 is Northern Telephone, a performance appraisal. Over the last 10-plus years -- I will repeat that -- over the last 10-plus years -- that's how long I have been there with the phone that we built out there -- I have met with and spoken to many people with Northern Telephone. Without exception I have always found them to be truly professional, acting in a friendly, courteous and helpful manner.

Despite the best efforts of the above people, Northern Telephone's public and customer relations are terrible. This is easily explained by comparing Ma Bell in Toronto with Ma Bell in our area. In Toronto competition dictates that Ma Bell must give top service for top dollar. In our area Ma Bell has a monopoly which permits them to provide inferior service for a superior price, because there is no other phone store in town. We have no choice.

Examples of their relations, if you will. Do you realize that on the 31st of December, 1996 we were paying $7.73 a month for our system, the same system exactly that we had on January the 1st, 1998 that we were now paying $11.73. That's an increase or a raise of $4 a month, which works out to an increase of 52 per cent for the same service.

Number two: For some time we at Nellie Lake have been trying every possible trick and persuasion to extract from Northern Telephone an inventory of available spare lines so we could tell, you know, just how bad are we. Obviously if we are down to two or three spare lines, well then we are almost at an emergency place.

We tried, and we never got to first base. So what I did is I wrote a letter to Northern Telephone, and it reads:

"Dear Northern Telephone:

Re our discussion this date I am forwarding the following list of questions re the usage status of our telephone system at Nellie Lake.

1. What are the total number of lines available to our area?

2. Of the total available lines how many are presently in use?

3. How many customers are there on each of the following services..." (As read)

Because we have all four of them in our area:

"...four party, three party, two party to a line, and private?" (As read)

Within a week and-a-half I received an answer, and it's from Northern Telephone to Andy Butler:

"Thank you for your recent letter with regards to telephone service in the Nellie Lake area. You have requested information concerning available facilities at Nellie Lake. We realize that this information is important to you, but unfortunately this not available to the public and is reserved for internal use only." (As read)

I just have an addition here. The Ben Serré Committee is asking their consultant to, and I quote:

"Compile an inventory list of existing telecommunications infrastructure in the area from information gathered by local telephone companies." (As read)

I hope you guys have better luck than I had. Or will the CRTC be able to enforce that? I don't know.

A question here that we at the lake have been trying to get an answer to for some time and we never have: Where did the 10 private lines for Malette Granite, plus those for the Potter Generation Plant come from some seven or eight years back? Were they borrowed from the Nellie Lake spares, which could have been used to make more private lines available to us? After repeated requests to Northern Telephone for this info, we still do not have the answer.

The last section is the services upgrade, in other words party lines -- private lines. When will we get them? At what cost? And who pays? When for the upgrade?

The often used phrase from a parent to a child who has been wanting and waiting for something for a long time is, "You have been waiting for this for a long time, waiting a little longer won't hurt." This reasoning won't sell to adults, especially those from Nellie Lake.

I have here three -- as far as the time frame is concerned, I have here three newspaper clips which show confusion which indicates some serious uncertainties as to the completion dates. The three notices are, in Enterprise, October '97, News Release from NorTel.

"NorTel suggested to the Enterprise that installing and testing of lines will hopefully begin, if the proposal is accepted by the CRTC, by the spring of 1998." (As read)

That's one date.

Enterprise, January '98, Ben Serré's Parliamentary Report.

"On December 18, 1997 the CRTC issued a public notice indicating its intention to review policies with regards to high-cost service areas. The Commission plans on addressing the matter by January 1, Year 2000." (As read)

"Addressing the matter".

Number 3, Daily Press, June 1998 -- that's last Saturday, and they were talking about this meeting here today.

They said:

"Although Monday's consultation in Timmins is just about booked, residents may still have the opportunity to speak if they arrive earlier." (As read)

And it goes on to say:

"For those unable to attend there is still the opportunity to send a written submission up until January 30, 1999." (As read)

Now, we have the spring of '98, January 1st, 2000, and January the 30th, '99 means that you will still be accepting proposals there, but that obviously means that you will not start the heavy, very serious deliberations until that time. I'm not putting words in your mouth, nor am I telling you what you are doing.

The services upgrade costs. We have heard a lot of that today. Over the last 10 years we have been given cost estimates for different stages of this upgrade which varied quite a bit. In fact, NorTel's original estimated $17 million jumped to $21 million after the Heritage Fund said they would award $5 million to NorTel to update selected test models.

We don't know what the costs will be. Obviously that's -- I'm hoping that the consultant will come out with something on that.

Now, who is going to pay this bill? It could be our federal government with our tax dollars, or it could be the long distance telephone provider through a small percentage of their revenues, or it could be a combination of the two. One thing is certain, we need this upgrade, we need our private lines, and it has to be paid -- it has to be paid for, probably eventually by us.

Possibly what we could do is we could send a request to the federal government and say that "We are the country of Nellie Lake, and we are a third world country and we are situation halfway in the middle of Africa" or something like that. Then we would get the money. Or we could also say that Bombardier wants to start a phone system up there.

Now, to you the members of the CRTC. I fully appreciate that your deliberations which will lead to your final report will be, to say the least, very difficult, since you will have to try to satisfy the wishes and wants of several different groups. And I appreciate that.

Also I understand that the physical work for this party line upgrade will not start until your final report is submitted.

Please, re this final report, please do me and all residents of Nellie Lake a favour: Don't fret too much over the spelling or the grammar, just get that report out as quickly as possible so the ball can start rolling.

Thank you.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Butler.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Just a couple of quick points.

My understanding of the issue of the equipment is that because of certain technical restrictions with party lines there are restrictions that we still have on in terms of ownership of phone equipment when you are on a party line, restrictions that don't exist for single lines.

But let me just say that in terms of everything else you have said, it is very crystal clear, I appreciate the detail that you have given, and particularly appreciate you discussing your personal health situation vis-à-vis your heart attack and the precarious situation that put you in. I think it certainly helps us understand the gravity of the situation, the importance of it. Despite your initial jokes when you came to the table, we certainly understand the seriousness with which this issue is of relevance to you.

So thanks very much.

MR. BUTLER: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I have a couple of questions.

The first one is, can you situate Nellie Lake for me?

MR. BUTLER: You have never been to Nellie Lake?


COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: That's not on the record.

THE CHAIRPERSON: On the northern part near Iroquois Falls. Yes, thank you.

MR. BUTLER: Nellie Lake.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I see it.

Mr. Butler, on the issue of timing, it is correct that submissions can be received until the end of January 1999. If I'm not mistaken, that will represent the close of the record.

We have already, since we issued the public notice you referred to, received representation and evidence and submissions from the telephone companies and from other intervenors, and these regional hearings are occurring concurrently, and it is the Commission's attempt to go to regions where the ordinary Canadians, in the sense of persons other than the telephone company and expert intervenors, and so on, can appear, so that we can hear submissions from people such as you and other people we have heard.

All of that is happening concurrently. For example, we are leaving now to go to Thompson, Manitoba before we get back to Ottawa. Tomorrow we will be leaving for Thompson.

So it should be some time in 1999 that we will make a decision on this process, which may or may not please everybody. Of course, there are many factors to be balanced.

But we appreciate the fact that you have come a long way to speak to us in Timmins and, as was explained to parties this morning, we will -- we have a court reporter here so your presentation will be on the record and will form part of the submissions we look at when we try to wrestle with these difficult problems.

So we thank you.

MR. BUTLER: So I can't pin you down to a date when I'm going to get my party line?

THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, we do have to be grammatical, in two languages.

Would it be fair to say probably the spring of 1999. It's difficult to give a month, yes. I would probably be fired if I gave you a date and got back to Ottawa. Surely you don't want that.

MR. BUTLER: I'll find a job for you, don't worry. You can come and work for me in my wine store.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Mr. Godin was reminding me that, of course, a decision will come out, and the effectiveness of it, if nothing has happened in your particular area in the meantime, will take probably until the first of the following year, because whatever it is we find is the solution that appears to be the optimum one will then have to be put in place. So it does -- and there is not only grammar involved.


THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Butler.

MR. BUTLER: I would just like to repeat that you have a group of people here from Nellie Lake. We feel very strongly. We have been working for this for a long time, and it's extremely important to us.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We understand, and we are grateful for all of you taking the opportunity to come and speak to us.

MR. BUTLER: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Butler.

Madam Secretary.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter will be Cathy Peever.



MS PEEVER: Good afternoon everyone.

I am speaking to you as a resident of Iroquois Falls town proper. Now, Iroquois Falls encompasses Nellie Lake, Highway Beach, Porquis, all these areas that have party line systems. But in Iroquois Falls we do have private lines, and for an exorbitant price you can get all the bells and whistles.

But often in Iroquois Falls of course we have to contact people in Nellie Lake and Highway Beach and so on where they have the party line system, and with four families on one line, and given the Canadian average of four members in each household, that is the equivalent of 16 people to one telephone. So, as you can imagine, just the statistical probability is, with 16 people and one telephone, when you want to use the phone it is going to be busy.

As a piano teacher in the Town of Iroquois Falls I have had the time consuming aggravation of trying many times before successfully reaching out of town music students to relay information or to reschedule lessons.

On a personal level, my son and his family share a party line with three other families, one of whom has a very energetic little boy who is eager to answer the phone whether it's his ring or not. I'm sure you can picture the scenario, here you have dialled and it should ring two long rings and then your party would answer, but this little boy is fast on the bit and he is right there to answer the phone on the very first ring. Well, there is no way that the person whose ring is two rings can know that that call was for them.

So then the trick is to persuade this little guy to hang up the phone so you can try yet again to make your call. You know, many times the mother would come on and apologize and I could try again.

For me, this was a mere annoyance, but with our family spread out from the Maritimes to British Columbia, South Korea to Slovakia, can you imagine if they tried to phone long distance and the phone gets answered by the wrong person in the wrong household. It's incredible that this goes on in 1998.

Our federal and provincial governments have promised that all children shall have access to the internet. As it stands now, this means only children with private lines. When students are assigned homework to be researched on the internet, how will the children served with party lines have a fair chance?

The world is becoming more and more competitive. How can we deliberately disadvantage such a large group of rural children? I have two very bright grandchildren in the rural area -- and you will just have to take my word for that. Is it right or fair that they, and all the others who live out of town should be deprived and left out of modern advancements because they have a party line?

Our high school students for the most part go south for the university education and instantly are in a catch-up position for not having had access to the information highway. The pioneers would have been deliriously happy to have this outdated phone system, but times have changed and we ask, please connect us. Make us all part of the modern technological world so we can participate equally in the economic and social benefits of the 21st Century.

Thank you.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Ms Peever.

I hope your grandchildren are not obsessive telephone answerers.

MS PEEVER: They will be the next one to pick up on the wrong ring.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We understand your frustrations and we thank you for appearing before us.

Madam Secretary.

LA SECRÉTAIRE: M. Gilles Forget.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, M. Forget.

MR. FORGET: Bonjour. Thank you.

I was going to bring a tape from the Spice Girls, the one that says: "Tell me what you want, what you really, really want," but I think you have a pretty good idea by now what we do want.

As a member of the Cochrane-Timiskaming Infrastructure Improvement Committee, as a representative of the Highway 11 Corridor Municipal Coalition, as Councillor for the Town of Iroquois Falls, and as a disgruntled party-line user myself, I would like to thank the CRTC for allowing me to appear before you to express our views concerning the antiquated telecommunication services that exist within the great geographical service area that stretches through most of Northeastern Ontario.

Residents of these high-cost service areas all share the same frustrations that multi-party line system bestows upon them: Trying to use the telephone but the line already in use; someone trying to phone you and again the line being busy; having one's privacy interfered with by the constant ringing of the phone; have private telephone conversations eavesdropped upon; the need to speak to the operator to identify our own phone number for long distance billing purposes; if one phone is left off the hook, then all the phones on the same line are inoperative; interrupting or answering another ring; and lastly, the inability to use portable phones.

The make-up of the subscribers of all party line services include doctors, dentists, firemen, business owners, all of which feel they cannot adequately provide a quality of service to their clients because of the inefficiencies of the telecommunication services. Our children are disadvantaged because they cannot access the internet technology that is available to others who are on normal service areas.

Other services such as fax machines, call waiting, call display, voice mail, et cetera, are only a pipe dream to rural areas and severely reflect the inequities of developing these areas into a competitive marketplace on what is now a globalized economy.

The further economic development of many depressed communities across Northeastern Ontario due to downsizing of most of the industries through technological changes is highly dependent upon being able to compete on the same playing field as other Canadians who assume the availability of telecommunication services to be the norm. Not so.

This has become especially crucial to one-industry towns who are seeking to expand their local economies.

A good example of this is the Town of Iroquois Falls. The Town would like to develop an industrial park on Highway 11, which is between Porquis and Elliott Lake on your map there, in order to supplement their economic and infrastructure but are being hampered severely due to the unavailability of private telephone lines, let alone the use of modern technologies.

Can you imagine trying to open up a motel and knocking on a door and saying, "I'm sorry, there's a party line here and the phone's for you"? We wouldn't have the technology or the capabilities of putting 40 or 50 private telephone lines in a motel.

Our local service provider, Northern Telephone, cannot solely be expected to finance the upgrading of the party lines as the revenues generated would be less than the cost of implementation. In other words, it would not be feasible. Nor should the residents of the high-cost service area be burdened with extra costs to receive private line service.

It is my opinion that all telecommunication customers should share the cost of updating services along with senior levels of government throughout the country. What was once considered to be a basic service delivery is now archaic at best. The standard must be raised to levels that only urban residences would expect.

In the future, whenever application of new technologies reaches a majority of customers, then it should become a new basic level of service for everyone. Service carriers are selling their technology to other countries, yet have failed to provide the same service in their own back yards.

In closing, I urge the CRTC to use its authority to implement whatever measures are needed to rectify what I consider to be a great injustice to high-cost service areas. I thank you very much.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Forget.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I don't have any questions because I certainly understand your point well, and it has been made earlier.

But I just have -- excuse my saying this, but after hearing your introduction about the Spice Girls, you know that Ginger Spice, one of the Spice Girls, just left the Spice Girls. This has caused great consternation in my home, and I'm beginning to think that maybe she lived up in this area and was waiting for a long time for an individual line, singing about "I told you what I want, what I really, really want" didn't get it, and she left the Spice Girls. So maybe that's what happened there.

Thanks again.

MR. FORGET: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Forget.

M. FORGET: I'm sure all the presentations that you will be getting for the next little while will be from the Nellie Lake catchment area.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Forget.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter is Daryll Smith followed by Ray Leacock.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Good afternoon.

Thank you very much for coming up here and hearing our concerns.

I'm speaking to you today in regard to the current substandard telephone service that is offered to many residents in our area. Three years ago, when I relocated here from Toronto, I was amazed to find that 5,000 households in this area were still forced to rely on party-line service.

Having come from one of the most highly advanced telecommunications centres in North America, I found myself forced to rely upon a telephone system where constant interruption, lack of privacy, and an ongoing unavailability are the order of the day.

In the summer of 1997, I attempted to start an internet-based business from my home. When I contacted Northern Telephone to attempt to secure a private business line, I was told that private business lines were not available and I was placed on a lengthy waiting list. When speaking to a customer service representative, I was told that the only option available to me was to relocate into town in order to get a private line.

And at present, I am a resident of the Highway Beach-Nellie Lake area, and I don't consider that an option. This is not a solution that most Canadians would have to weigh if they were considering a home-based business.

I attempted to use cellular phone service for business purposes, but several things became very apparent. First, the data transfer speed available over a cell phone is only about 4800 bytes per second. This resulted in a tenfold increase in time required to transfer data as well as frequent disconnection from the server. This is a huge disparity when compared to the 33,000 BPS available through a regular phone service.

Another interesting aspect is the fact that the cell phone has no privacy. The same retailer that sold me my cell phone sold other individuals, residents, devices to listen in on my phone calls. It's not an option for business purposes. There's no privacy. There's only, in my understanding, four digital lines available. If those four lines are busy, you go back on the regular analog system, and once more, your phone calls are, you know, public.

Another major aspect that became evident was the extreme cost associated with the use of cellular service. I estimated that basic phone service would exceed $8,000 in the first year alone. This is money that I had budgeted for research and development and creation of at least two part-time jobs. Yes, the lack of modern phone services cost my region jobs and economic development.

You know, I was sitting at home last night watching the CBC National News. Two feature stories were broadcast that I believe had bearing on these hearings. The New Brunswick Government invested a considerable amount of money in state-of-the-art technology in their province, bringing the very latest in fiber optic technology to their province. It has resulted in a huge dividend. I understood 15 per cent of the jobs in New Brunswick are now directly related to the new telecommunication services.

The second story was very troubling to myself. For those who missed the report, it was about a Canadian company, SaskTel who, with federal government funding, is now setting up phone line service in the Philippines. So in effect, my tax dollars are being used to give people in the Philippines private-line service, something that I don't even enjoy as a taxpaying resident of this country.

It is sadly apparent that Northern Telephone refuses to take a proactive position in modernizing our telephone services to bring us to a level of service that most Canadians would take for granted. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the CRTC to compel the modernization of our telephone service.

Thank you very much.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Smith, for your presentation. And again we thank you, as some of you are residents in the same area, for coming to Timmins to speak to us.

M. SMITH: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter will be Ray Leacock.

THE CHAIRPERSON: This may be a good time to break until 6:30.

We will be back at 6:30, which technically, in the CRTC announcement, is the hour at which the evening session is to begin.

We will hear those persons who have registered for the day session seriatim when we come back.

We regret, of course, we are running a little behind. We had extra names, but we are interested in hearing all of you eventually.

So we will be back at 6:30.

--- Recessed for dinner at 1725/Suspension pour

le dîner à 1725

--- Resumed at 1831/Reprise à 1831

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order please, ladies and gentlemen. À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.

Good evening, and welcome to this regional consultation on an issue which is fundamental to telecommunications today. Bonsoir et bienvenue à tous.

My name is Andrée Wylie, and I will chair this evening's session. Seated next to me is Commissioner Andrew Cardozo. Also in attendance are Commission staff, to my immediate left, our Hearing Manager Paul Godin; to his left Karen Moore, our legal counsel; and to her left Denise Groulx, who is the Secretary for this hearing.

Avant de commencer, je voudrais vous dire que nous sommes heureux d'être ici à Timmins et d'avoir l'occasion d'entendre vos points de vue sur des questions relatives à la fourniture d'un service téléphonique de haute qualité dans les ondes de dessertes à coût élevé.

Je tiens également à souhaiter la bienvenue à tous ceux qui participeront ce soir par liaison audio-vidéo, et nous profitons de l'occasion pour remercier les compagnies de téléphone Bell Canada et Ontario Telephone pour ces liaisons qui permettront une plus grande participation.

As you know, this public consultation is part of a larger CRTC process. Canadian telephone policy has as one of its objectives the provision of reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas and in all regions in Canada.

We are here today to explore how, in the face of changes in the telecommunications environment, we can ensure that we can achieve this policy.

Some of the issues that we hope to hear your views on include the following: What should be the obligations of the telephone companies or their competitors with respect to providing telephone service in high-cost areas?

If subsidies are required for high-cost serving areas, what services should be eligible for subsidies and how should any subsidy be funded?

What types of technology are acceptable for high-cost or remote areas? For example, is wireless or satellite technology acceptable?

After presentations, we may wish to ask questions of clarification, time permitting. However, I want to stress that our main interest is to hear what you have to say on the issues we are exploring in a process that we want to keep as informal as possible. And I would hope that no one will think that we are not interested if we don't engage parties in exchanges of any length because we still have a number of people to hear and it is already 6:30. We have been doing this since nine o'clock this morning and we do want to hear anyone who wishes to appear.

At this point, I would ask our legal counsel to address the particulars of the process that will be followed.

MS MOORE: Thank you.

Those persons who have indicated a wish to make an oral submission at this hearing by registering in advance with one of the Commission's offices will be called by the secretary, three at a time. We would ask the first person to be seated at the table with the microphone and the other two people to sit in the front row.

Any participant not in attendance when the secretary calls, his or her name will be called upon later.

In the interests of ensuring that as many oral submissions as possible can be heard, please limit your submissions to a maximum length of 10 minutes.

To ensure that the recording and transcription people will be able to produce an accurate transcript, when speaking please ensure that your microphone is turned on and, similarly, when you are finished speaking, please turn it off or we will have feedback.

Afin que les personnes chargées de l'enregistrement et de la transcription puissent produire un compte-rendu exact, quand vous parlerez, assurez-vous que votre microphone est ouvert. De même, une fois que vous avez fini de parler, veuillez le fermer. Autrement, nous entendrons du bruit.

For those of you who are participating remotely through a video-link, please follow the instructions of the telephone company representative in your location.

The oral submissions heard at this consultation will be transcribed and will form part of the record of the proceeding. Anyone wishing to purchase a copy of the transcript should make the necessary arrangements with the official reporter who is seated at the table.

In addition to your oral submissions at this consultation, I would like to remind everyone that written comments on the issues that are being considered here may be submitted to the Commission at any time before January 30th, 1999. Like the transcript, those comments will also form part of the record of the proceeding.

The telephone company representatives who are here today will be given 15 minutes to respond to any comments raised in the course of the comments.

The telephone companies can also address any comments raised at this consultation in the course of their written argument, which is also to be filed by January 30th, 1999.

Thank you.


Before I ask the telephone company representatives who are here this evening to introduce themselves, I would like to ask whether there are any preliminary matters anyone wants to bring up. Thank you.

So I would ask if the telephone company representatives present would identify themselves, since this is a new session.

MR. HARRITON: I will go first. George Harriton from Bell Canada, and with me are Kim McCairn, Angela Brigginshaw, Judi Bodnar and Caren Naismith.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Harriton.

The court reporter seems to have taken this, even though it wasn't from a microphone.

Thank you very much for your co-operation.

MR. DELISLE: Thank you.

My name is Dan Delisle. I am the President of Northern Telephone. With me today I have our Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Molly Slywchuk, on this right side corner.

Our Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs and Strategic Planning, Denis McCarthy, and our legal counsel, Kirsten Embree.

Thank you very much.


MS MARCELLA: Good evening. I am Laurie Marcella with O.N. Tel, and also with me tonight are Tom Caldwell, our Manager of Marketing; Steve Kidd, our Sales Rep; and Steve Murray has been in and out all day as well, who is another O.N. Tel. representative.

MR. CHALKER: Hi, I'm Scott Chalker, Abitibi-Price Telephone Exchange.


Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

Merci. À présent, je demanderais à la secrétaire de bien vouloir appeler le premier participant.

THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Ray Leacock, Randy Howard and Bill Pedskalny.

Mr. Leacock is not present.

We will proceed with Mr. Randy Howard.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Mr. Howard.

MR. HOWARD: Good evening.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We are ready to hear you.

MR. HOWARD: Okay. Thanks very much.

I really appreciate this chance to talk to you and to express our views.

My name is Randy Howard and I live in Nellie Lake, part of Iroquois Falls. I was raised in rural Canada and I lived with party lines most of my life, and I accepted that as normal. I moved to town and I lived with private phones lines for about the last 25 years or so, and they became normal to me.

Last year my wife and I bought a property in the country, and the fact that it was a party line was of such small consideration to me that I actually told her to be thankful that we had a phone at all and not to create problems that weren't already there. So I told her not to worry about things that could go wrong, you know, just to kind of live with it.

Now, moving to the country you learn a lot of things, you learn that water comes from a well, you learn that a field bed costs you about $6,000 and it takes up about a third of your property, and you learn that you can't tell your neighbours friends what a good time to use the telephone is. People can receive calls at any time of the day or night, and although it is none of my business it does cause my phone to ring, which causes my children to wake up, it disturbs my sleep.

Another thing, you can't have an answering machine. I know you have heard all this before. People don't like talking to answering machines a lot, but I'm trying to run a business, I do renovations and repairs, and people must be able to get a hold of me. If somebody calls and they are looking for me to do some renovations or repairs and my phone is busy, well, if they call back I'm lucky. If they don't call back, well, they will go to somebody else if my phone is busy.

I'm sorry, I apologize for my speaking, I know I'm not very eloquent.

A friend of mine who is Head of Maintenance at Monteith Correctional Centre, a few days ago I called him and he says "Well, I have been trying to get a hold of you for about a week." He had a contract that he needed a bid on and he couldn't get hold of me. So he couldn't leave me a message, I can't have an answering machine, so it kind of -- it makes it very hard to be in business, to run a business if you can't have these things.

So naturally I go to a cell phone, which is a little bit expensive but at least you have a private line and you have an answering machine, or you have access to it. But if I want to -- if I call up Westbourne, he's an industrial supplier here in Timmins, and I'm getting quotes on a bid, and they say right away, "Can I fax you that information?" Well, no, I can't have a fax machine.

So a friend of mine has a -- he's on the internet and he has been showing me all the latest things. He is looking down on the earth from the satellite. He shows you pictures of what is going on in the world that, you know, you can get on the computer nowadays, and he has e-mail and chat lines, and none of that is available to us because we have party lines. It seems a little unfair.

There is touch tone banking. You can check your balances over the phone, you can pay bills from the convenience of your home day or night, but none of these services are available to us because we have party lines.

Even if you could, with a party line you don't have privacy, anybody who picks up the phone could hear what you are saying. They know your business as well as you do.

It's just there is such an obvious need for our phones to be upgraded. People with party line service, we are second-class, and in today's world, well, it just is. Everybody has these things, they take them for granted, and until you don't have them you don't realize what a privilege they are.

And what about our children? We are trying to raise children and to educate them in a world where all of these services are second nature, they are taught them, their peers have it, and yet ours can't. So it's not really fair to them, it doesn't put them on an equal playing field.

We watched a Bell Telephone commercial of we heard the operator answer the phone and she says -- it's that recorded service that you get, and she says "For service in English press 1", you know. So then you hear the dial tone going, and it's kind of a joke. It kind of makes you laugh at first, and then you realize that it's not a joke. That is where we are at. You know, this is the kind of service that we are living with.

So what we really want is to be considered as a community that will be, or that needs to be upgraded in the immediate future.

Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Howard. Don't run away.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I don't have any questions actually, because on the one hand you say "We have heard it all before", we have, but I do want to say that each person who says it I think brings us their particular story and the particular way in which this issue affects your life, which is the particular business you are trying to run. So I just want to say, even though we have heard it, it is your right and your duty to say it again and again and to let people know the particular concerns you have.

So thanks very much.

MR. HOWARD: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Howard.

Madam Secretary.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter will be Bill Pedskalny.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Mr. Pedskalny.

MR. PEDSKALNY: Good evening, Madam Chairman.

Good. First off I wish to apologize. First off, I am not a speaker, also I'm not a technician, nor a statistician. I'm going to have to talk to you like a farmer, a meat and potatoes person.

I live in the Nellie Lake area that everybody is complaining out on the 2-3-2 exchange. First off, I have to admit I do have a private line. I have had it for over 40 years, but right now I'm paying $52.00 a month mileage, plus my phone. Okay, I can live with it. But I do sympathize with the rest of the people in my area. We have to call them, they call us, you can't get a line.

Now, I am going to go a little deeper than this. My company out here, Woodgrain Trailer Sales, does a lot of business in Northern Ontario with the natives, Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Attawapiskat and Peawanuck. From what we know and see, they have far better telephone systems than we have at Nellie Lake and Iroquois Falls in the 2-3-2 exchange. Why?

I think I know why. It's natives. The money was poured in to give them these systems. And they are entitled to it. So if they are entitled to it, we should be entitled to it in Northern Ontario. We are not here for the good of our health, we are here to supply labour and service to the industries, mining, paper, lumber, plywood, et cetera. That stuff goes to southern Ontario, puts thousands of people to work down there making furniture or cars, et cetera, et cetera.

They are making the money, they have the good telephone systems which we don't have. We can't get call forwarding, we can't get nothing.

If they can have it on our backs, taking our materials, and we're here -- we're not here by choice, we here because it's our job, we have to eat and run -- and work in these industries. I maintain we should have the same thing as they do down there. They are taking our stuff and making the money and can afford it.

Now, one part of the argument -- and I think I'm right, I think you will have to admit I'm right too -- it's not fair to us up here.

Now, there is one other thing I want to bring out. Northern Telephone up here is a subsidiary of Ma Bell. There is something wrong, there is something rotten, it doesn't smell right to me. New Liskeard has a head office and a hierarchy down there. Is it needed? They are 99 per cent I think it is, isn't it, owned by Bell. Why aren't they amalgamated and do away with the fat and probably they could save $4 or $5 million on wages and overhead.

That is the money that it would take to upgrade our systems in five or six years. So we don't need government grants or an increase in rates. Am I right? I think I'm right.

I notice you have a little smile on your face, you are making me feel better because I'm a little nervous.

--- Laughter/Rires

MR. PEDSKALNY: This is the third time I have made a speech.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You are not going to trick me into making a decision by myself.

--- Laughter/Rires

MR. PEDSKALNY: I'm not trying.

Thank you very much for putting me at ease. This is the third time I have spoken in my life, first is my daughter's wedding, the second time my son's wedding -- and what was the third time? Here.

--- Laughter/Rires

THE CHAIRPERSON: You are doing very well.

MR. PEDSKALNY: Well, thank you very much.

I am really trying to put a point across. If they can have the service up North, they have fiber optics up there, microwave, whatever it is, but I do know it is better than what we have. Then we provide the services for -- I'm just repeating, but I will go again.

We are providing the goods for southern Ontario, we are here because they want us here to make this stuff, so let us have what they have. That's all we ask. We are entitled to it.

We are human beings, we are Canadian citizens. We are still Canada, I believe, and I wish you would take this into consideration. Cut out the statistics and these beautiful speeches I heard today. They are very good presentations, but let's get down to meat and potatoes.

The issue: We need our phone systems in Northern Ontario improved. It is coming to us and it can be done.

I think that's it. I'm not going to say any more, and thank you.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Pedskalny.

The next time there is a wedding in my family I will call you.

--- Laughter/Rires

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next group of presenters will be Steve Peever, Denise Marshall and Ken Graham.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Mr. Peever.

MR. PEEVER: Good evening, representatives of the CRTC and others.

I am Steve Peever, and I live at Highway Beach in the greater Nellie Lake area of Iroquois Falls.

My family and I own a home on a small lake within 10 kilometres of Iroquois Falls and only half a kilometre from Highway 11. It is a beautiful spot, but we have one big complaint about it: The only telephone we can get is a four party line.

I am starting my own business and yet I am told by Northern Telephone, the local service provider, that I can't have a separate line unless I pay a horrendous connection fee, and then forever pay a monthly fee to have that line.

This means I can't get such services as call waiting, call forwarding, call display, call return, or any of the other useful options that I might normally have if I lived somewhere else. I can't have a fax machine, and I am told I am not supposed to use the internet, which would be very necessary in the business that I am going to be starting.

I am not allowed a cordless phone, or any other phone, other than what Northern Telephone provides, because of the ring and whatever.

I have friends and family in Slovakia and Turkey that have better phone service than we do here in Canada, a so-called telecommunications leader.

When I tried to get a push button phone I got this monstrosity that I quickly sent back, and the phone that I am allowed by the phone company is an old rotary dial phone with the paint peeling off it and it looks like it escaped out of the 1950s somehow. It still costs me more than the usual monthly rental fee if I lived somewhere else.

Now, I know that there are private lines available out where I live, even though the local telephone company tells me that there are not. The former owner of the town funeral home lived less than a kilometre from me in a party line area and he had a private line that he didn't pay any extra for per month, even though another businessman living not more than a few hundred feet from his has paid extra for years to supposedly have a separate line run out to him.

The inconvenience of having to wait for a line while others are on it, having someone pick up the line and dial in your ear when you are talking to family or friends long distance, having to give your number to the operator every time you make a long distance call, or an 800 number call, these are all frustrating enough.

What really injures me is the lack of freedom to run a business from my location and get the calling features that I would want and need. This archaic party line system is a barrier to me developing my business here, or even staying in the area.

Now, to solve this problem, and quickly, pick the area around Iroquois Falls as a test area to have the service upgraded first. This makes a lot of sense, because the population is all close geographically. There are about 250 homes within a few kilometres of each other that are on party lines, and this is increasing every year as more and more people move out to this area. We are close to a service area, only 10 kilometres from Iroquois Falls, and the system may be more easily upgraded than what the local phone company lets on since there are private lines very close to us.

Again, some others have mentioned Malette Granite and other business that had private lines and there was no extra upgrading or whatever needed for that. Now, Malette Granite is no longer in existence, and there were a number of private lines there that seem to be languishing or what, I don't know.

The payback for such upgrading would start happening immediately. Even though there may be a great initial outlay required, and that funding would have to be looked at, I mean the payback is going to start immediately. More lines purchased for businesses, fax machines, dedicated internet lines, and then people could starting ordering the calling features, answering services, internet services available everywhere else.

Please, we must be chosen to have this as soon as possible. Three years from now is unacceptable. We can't wait that long. I certainly can't wait that long.

If we wait even two years we enter the new millennium as some third world backwater instead of part of a country that considers itself a technology leader. If the decision was made to start upgrading for this now, we could join the rest of Canada with modern phone service by the end of this fall.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Peever.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I don't have much to ask you about because I think you have outlined the points very clearly.

I just want you to know that I appreciate the particular recommendation you are making to look at your community as a test site, and --

MR. PEEVER: Fast track.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Fast track. That certainly is something that we will be considering with a lot of other things, but thank you very much.

MR. PEEVER: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Peever.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Could we have the microphones up a little bit, please?


THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry. Can you hear --

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Can you hear me now?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'm sorry. Remind me if I forget. I sometimes seem to be back too far.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please?

THE SECRETARY: Denise Marshall.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Ms Marshall.

MS MARSHALL: Good evening, and welcome to Northern Ontario.


MS MARSHALL: I, like you, just came back from Ottawa babysitting so I could meet with you. I guess I should have just met you in Ottawa.

Every Canadian is facing change in today's society. The world is shifting with our aging population and the speed of technology. Baby-boomers are leaving the larger urban centres and are looking for a simpler life. I used to work for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for many years, so I know that for a fact.

I represent this group of people because I just moved here and we are here on a part-time basis until my husband retires, along with -- and I represent myself along with residents of Northern Ontario who are asking to have private telephone lines.

There are so many reasons why we want to be part of modern society in the '90s. Our families leave this area to attend schools and to find jobs. They cannot reach us by telephone or leave messages because we are unable to have answering machines. Community relations, which is very important in government, as you know, is very difficult with the many frustrations that we feel towards the people we share our party lines with.

For example, my daughter works for a chemical company and is being approached from a rival company to work for them. A senior official called her numerous times only to be hung up on by our shared party line user. Apparently they didn't want to listen to our telephone rings, and it caused great embarrassment for all.

Seniors make up a large part of the population in this area. The federal government held conferences across Canada and in northern and remote areas to assess their needs. Communication is a big worry for them, and not being able to get through by telephone should an emergency arise.

Our young people leave this area ill-equipped to meet future challenges. They are not familiar with e-mail, faxes, internet and modern conveniences offered elsewhere. It would be wonderful to keep our young people here, but it is almost impossible to entice new trade without modern communication systems.

Appeals and letters have been forwarded to the CRTC and necessary officials. Government officials at the municipal, provincial and federal levels are working hard to bring telephone line service to our community. The Northern residents are strong-minded and had faith they would deliver their promises, but a lot of their absences today leaves some doubt.

In closing, John Manley, the Minister of Trade, delivered a speech in November of 1997 in which he stated:

"Every Canadian will be connected to the electronic highway by the Year 2000." (As read)

Surely, the CRTC must realize that we Northern residents want to be part of this electronic highway.

Thank you for your attention.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Marshall.

MS MARSHALL: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We appreciate your presentation. Every submission is important to us, and we thank you.

MS MARSHALL: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter will be Ken Graham.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Mr. Graham.

MR. GRAHAM: Thank you, and welcome to the North.

This meeting should have been held in Iroquois Falls though, I believe, because there is more interest shown from that community.

My name is Ken Graham, I am the Mayor of that community and --

THE CHAIRPERSON: I am suspicious that if we had held it in Iroquois Falls we would have needed a bigger room.

MR. GRAHAM: We have them there too.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Thank you.

MR. GRAHAM: Anyway, I will read my brief to you. I think one has already been handed out.

I am pleased to be here today to represent the views of our Town of Iroquois Falls and the problems we have encountered with the 2-3-2 exchange and multi-party line service.

Our municipality has a large rural area, including Big Nellie Lake, Highway Beach and various other year-round rural road areas where, in some cases, many residents live and are restricted to the multi-party line lack of service wherein they cannot enjoy basic services such as internet, answering machines, fax machines, et cetera.

As we enter the new millennium, it is unbelievable that these services cannot be enjoyed in the North as do our friend in southern Ontario and other parts of Canada.

If we want to promote economic development to our area of Northern Ontario, we must have private single line telephone service.

Our community, along with others in the North, have lobbied Northern Telephone Limited for many years to have this situation resolved, but to no avail.

We realize that it will take many capital dollars to fix the problem of multi-party line service, and our residents have been more than patient. It must be remedied now.

Today I am asking you to help us get something our residents deserve: Private affordable telephone lines.

That has been signed by myself, Ken Graham, Mayor of Iroquois Falls.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: You must be proud of the energy the people from your region have put into answering our invitation for submissions.

MR. GRAHAM: Yes. As you can understand, there is a very, very real need to have something addressed in our area.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.

MR. GRAHAM: Like one of the previous speakers suggested, perhaps Iroquois Falls could be a test area.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.

MR. GRAHAM: Thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: The next presenter will be Larry Sanders.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Just a moment.

Do I understand that this is the last presenter from Nellie Lake and Iroquois Falls? Mr. Marshall is not appearing?

THE SECRETARY: No, Mr. Marshall has cancelled.

THE CHAIRPERSON: I want to ensure before you leave this evening that we thank you for your presentations.

People from Nellie Lake and Iroquois Falls seem to have put a lot of energy into this and, as I indicated to the Mayor of Iroquois Falls, we thank you very much. We appreciate your energetic, but very gracious participation.

--- Applause/Applaudissements



THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, Mr. Sanders, the floor is yours now.

MR. SANDERS: Thank you, Commissioners.

My name is Larry Sanders, and that is my real name. I am not a character from a television show.

You already have in front of you our brief, which isn't brief, it is 70 pages, so I will not take the time to go through it. I am assuming that you will appreciate the work that the coalitions that we represent have put into this exercise.

What you have before you is the work of many people. My responsibility primarily has been one of editor and co-ordinator of two different coalitions that are explained in the submission, and I am here representing Wawatay Native Communications Society. I live in Sioux Lookout, which is approximately 1,200 kilometres from here.

I would like to start by drawing your attention to the back of the book, the back cover. That gives you an idea of the area that we are talking about. It is essentially 48 communities in the area known as the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, which is basically the First Nations located north of the 50th parallel. The 50th parallel is roughly north of Sioux Lookout, just a little bit north of Sioux Lookout.

I would also draw your attention to the little inset map in the upper right-hand corner of that map, because residents of places like Ottawa often don't really understand the geography of the North. The reason we put the inset map there is to put southern Ontario in its proper perspective.

The map that I have seen that you have been using all day has two different scales, one on the south and one on the north, and every time you flip the map over and look at the north you are actually looking at a map that has a much smaller scale. That little inset map puts the south in its proper perspective.

I would really ask you to appreciate that, because the geography we are talking about is basically the top two-thirds of Ontario, geographically speaking.

The brief that we are presenting tonight was put together, as I said, because of the work of two coalitions. One is a local one based in Sioux Lookout, a number of regional agencies which are based in Sioux Lookout serving the North, mental health agencies, health agencies, education agencies, and you will see them all listed in the submission.

I wanted to, before I get into the brief in a lot of detail, just mention two brief points about things that I have heard sitting here today listening to the other presentations.

First of all, I wanted to highlight the point that as far as we are concerned this is a question of social and economic development, not just regulatory reform.

The dictionary on telecommunications, which we have included with our submission, is an example of what we think is also required to eventually establish what people feel should be telecommunications equity in this country.

It is not just a question of building it and they will come. It's also a question of helping people understand what it is that we are coping with when we talk about an information society. So that is why we did that kind of a dictionary, which is in syllabics and English, to -- in simple English, non-techie English -- explain what we are talking about.

We feel that a lot more of that is required in order for people to really come to grips with this issue.

The second point I wanted to make about things I have heard today, is that a lot of people were talking about -- asking for improved services in their rural and remote areas, and I am no different. We are obviously seeking better services. But we are not doing that as a question of charity.

It has somehow presented, and I think misrepresented, that somehow the southern urban areas would perhaps be doing us some kind of big charitable favour to somehow give us stuff that we are asking for. And we are not -- at least I am not here asking for charity. I am here asking for equity. I am here basically saying that the Telecommunications Act, specifically section 7(b) that you are all familiar with, says that we should have equitable access to telecommunications.

We are not doing that as -- we are not asking that as a matter of charity, it is a matter of law. It says that we should have equity. So that is what we are here asking for.

I don't particularly fault any particular telephone company. The region that we are talking about is covered by several different companies, and I don't fault any of them for not providing service. I think they are operating under the rule book that this Commission has established by a series of decisions over the course of the years, and you basically put the unserved areas in a position where we are not benefitting from competition. Competition isn't working for our areas.

So we are asking -- and you in fact have recognized that by calling these hearings, and said that there should be a slightly different set of rules. There should be some more intervention perhaps and not a completely unregulated free, wide open competitive atmosphere as has been the case. That has been the direction of your regulatory reform up to this point.

So that is our understanding of what we are here to talk about, is telecommunications equity.

I would also want to point out that if in fact the roughly one million people of aboriginal ancestry in Canada, the vast majority of whom do not have equitable telecommunications services, plus all the other millions of people that are represented by the rural residents that we have heard from consistently all day today, if those Canadians were all on the information highway, and part of the systems that we all want to be part of, would that not also benefit the market -- the businesses based in large urban centres? Would they not also get some benefit from that?

The analogy that I think of is extended calling areas, which I am sure you are familiar with, where an urban or rural area can say, "For a slightly higher monthly fee we won't pay any long distance".

Well, in my mind, if we were to establish some sort of national tax or levy, whatever you wanted to call it, on the telecommunications systems of Canada, and put that into a pot so that we could raise up the standards of telecommunications infrastructure to the point where we really were equal, that would benefit everyone, not just those of us in the outback who don't have the services. It would benefit those in the south as well, because they would be able to access us, just like we would be able to access them. We would be a bigger market.

In any case, I would like to briefly go through this presentation and just point out some highlights of it, and then save some time for any questions you might have.

This brief is really organized into two major parts. The first part goes through our present service system. We did a survey of a number of people, what kind of feelings they have about their phone system and how much they pay and what kind of services they don't have access to, and the fact that generally speaking, as you have already heard many times repeated today, people in Northern Ontario outside major urban centres have second-class telecommunications. We are no different. The front part of the brief basically gives you all the detail about that.

Our market survey also determined that there was a great interest in better telecommunications services, greater interest in the Far North in things like the internet and in competitive telecommunications services, but they are just not available. People in fact seem to have indicated from the survey results that you will see in that brief, there is a kind of a pent up demand for service, but the infrastructure isn't there. It cannot be provided.

I specifically want to draw to your attention page 5, where we list out the communities that have -- and you have heard a lot today about areas of the country that have party line service, but these are communities that have no service at all, not even party lines. They might have one outdoor payphone, they might have a radiophone. Their entire communities basically, somewhat like the tourist camps that you heard from today who have basically nothing in the way of private service of any sort. So those are listed there.

I would also want to draw to your attention the fact that in this brief the First Nations of Canada are going through a process of essentially reestablishing themselves and improving their systems of self-government, rebuilding the systems of self-government that they have had for a long time. They are reestablishing those things.

One of the mechanisms that has happened recently to do that, which I'm sure you have heard about, is the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples that released its report in 1996. That report pointed to the need for a new partnership between First Nations and the rest of Canada to break down some of the problems of the past, to reestablish a relationship. And they also put a great focus on education, that that was really a cornerstone of what was going to be the new future.

They also pointed to the great need for distance education as one of the components of that new relationship, because in order to have self-government you have to have trained professionals, you have to support those professionals at the community level, and you need distance education in order to accomplish those objectives. Without decent telecommunications infrastructure none of that works.

So our brief goes through all that. We give you all the clauses and detail about all the things that you need to know from the Royal Commission that would justify you taking a position that says we are looking for a new relationship and telecommunications is one cornerstone of building that new relationship.

So the first part of our brief talks about the issue of service, and the fact that we don't have it. But what I want to spend most of my time here tonight talking about is what I thought we were going to be spending the day talking about, which is: We all know there is telecommunications inequity in this country. The problem is: What are we going to do about it?

You have asked 14 questions in your public notice, and our submission attempts, as best we can, to address all 14 of those questions. Obviously, I don't have time tonight to go though 14 answers because of the limitations on the time here, but I basically want to run over a couple of the major points.

We feel that one of the issues here is the way you talk about the situation. You heard it earlier today that there was an objection to this whole concept of "high-cost serving areas" as a definitional problem. To a certain extent we agree with that, because we don't think the problem is necessarily how to define high-cost service areas.

We have given you a definition, because you asked for one, but we think the real problem is the need for universal minimum standards in this country. We think that you need to define as a Commission what is really meant by section 7(b) of the Telecommunications Act when it says "universal services of high quality".

What does that really mean? We don't have a common definition in this country. When we struggled with this in our workshops that we held leading to the presentation of this brief, we got into discussions of things like, well okay, on our list of what is universal service, do we want voice mail? Some people said no, let's not put voice mail on the list because we all hate voice mail, we would much rather talk to a person.

And then when we talked about it a bit more we discovered that no, that really isn't the way to do it. You don't want to make up any list of basic services in this country that would be defined in terms of particular technologies, because the technology is going to change tomorrow.

We have all heard about satellite-based phone systems that will supposedly provide basically universal cell-phone type service using satellites, sometime this fall. We have also heard about a similar kind of a wireless satellite system that is going to provide, supposedly, relatively high speed data by 2000 or 2001 on a completely wireless system. You won't have to worry about fiber optics.

So whatever the technologies are that are going to come tomorrow, if we defined a list today that is going to be limited to certain technologies, we would have to rewrite it and hold another bunch of hearings like this in another year or so to settle on what should be on our list.

So we backed off from that kind of principle, and instead what you will see on page 44 are five basic principles of universal service that we came to in our workshop. I won't take the time to read them because you can read them.

In our answers to your 14 questions, we started by struggling with the question of defining what is a high-cost service area, and we ended up coming to the position that a way to solve this problem, universally, nationally, right across the country, is to define a "high-cost service area" as any area that doesn't have your universal service minimums.

I want to repeat that, a high-cost service area would be any area that doesn't have your universal minimum standards. Okay?

The reason we define that that way is that if they didn't -- if the reason they don't have the universal service minimums is because no competitive supplier, or a monopoly phone company, or whoever their providers might be, have been able to come forward and provide those minimum services on an economical basis. They can't see a return to their shareholders, they can't see a return from the fees that they would charge for setting up the service.

So if the minimum services aren't there it must, by definition, be high cost.

As a solution we are suggesting that there be a national, universal -- and I hesitate to use the word but I can't find a better one -- tax on all telecommunications in this country that would be on cable, it would be on data providers, it would be on ISPs, it would be on phone bills, it would be -- because of convergence all these things are part of what we are talking about.

We really don't know, and we have to defer to the wisdom of the Commission to figure out should that be half of 1 per cent, 1 per cent, 2 per cent. I really don't know, because we don't have access to that kind of financial information.

But we would suggest that you could establish a levy like that of a couple of percentage points and it would be there for, we would think, perhaps five years, and that national fund that would be generated from those kinds of dollars would be used to raise up the standards in this country to the minimum levels established by the Commission as universal standards.

Once the universal systems were in place, theoretically we could all be benefitting from the effects of competition and all the other good things that are supposed to be coming about because of all the other regulatory reforms you have made in convergence and in monthly fees.

So in very simple terms, that is our case. We give you a lot of detail. We propose a whole system for a national third-party body that would administer this fund. We suggest that it not be the Commission because you are already burdened down with too many other things.

We think it should be a third party, and independent third body, that perhaps would have a built-in sunset clause, because the last thing we want to propose is something like the GST that always lives with us, or income tax that was supposed to disappear after World War I. We don't want to propose something like that.

We think that once you built the capital infrastructure back up to the point where we all had national standards that perhaps you could phase out a body like that, and if you had an arm's-length relationship with it as a Commission, you could review it after a few years and ask for reports that would indicate whether it could fade out or not.

A couple of quick points in closing. We also -- in question 14, you ask:

"any other [matters] that the Commission should consider."

So we used that as somewhat of an open barn door to make a small review of this process, this hearing.

We are new to this process and new to this kind of undertaking and we learned a lot from our analysis of what we had to do to get involved, and we suggested that if you really want to involve high-cost areas, namely the outback, you have to have a hard look at how you do things.

If you look at the list of interested parties, there are very few aboriginal groups. I think we are one of maybe three or four across the whole country. There are reasons for that. It is very expensive, it is very time-consuming, and it is just not the kind of process that people can easily get involved in. So we make some suggestions in here as to how you could make it a little better.

In closing, we also point out that we really do have a vision of a better tomorrow. We think that you have a really important task on your hands in these hearings to finally bring about some equity in this country between those of us who have and those of us who do not.

Thank you very much.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Sanders.

Commissioner Cardozo, do you have any questions?


You have pointed us to the map of the various aboriginal communities that you are concerned with. What would be the population of the aboriginal communities in the North?

MR. SANDERS: The ones on the map that are in Treaty -- what is historically known as Treaty 9 or NAN, if you look at the official Indian Affairs Band List of on-reserve population, you will come up with the number of approximately 15,000 in 48 communities. The problem with that though is that that INAC list does not count people who aren't on the band lists --


MR. SANDERS: -- non-status people, teachers, any number of other folks who live in a Northern reserve who might not necessarily be on the band list. So the Stats Can number is closer to 20,000.

Then there is roughly another 15,000 on top of that who can't live in the North because there isn't housing, and they are still on the band lists but they live in places like Timmins or Thunder Bay or Toronto. They are still on the band list but they don't live in the North. Some of them would like to, but they can't.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. So including aboriginal people who live in urban centres like Thunder Bay, were are talking about 20,000 or so?

MR. SANDERS: The overall population is around 35,000, counting the off-reserve people.


You mentioned in your earlier submission that the penetration rates are generally below 50 per cent --

MR. SANDERS: That's right.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: -- in aboriginal communities. Is there range there?

MR. SANDERS: Yes. And, as our submission points out, we were unable to come up with any actual hard data. We asked Bell for some actual data, and they are not required to keep that kind of data, nor do you require them to.

So we have some somewhat questionable Stats Can numbers and we really don't have accurate numbers. Nobody keeps accurate numbers on what penetration rates are in First Nations. But anecdotally from our own survey, we know that it ranges from as low as 30 per cent in some places, very poor places, to as high as 70 per cent in some better off communities. There is a whole range.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Give me a little background on the Wawatay Native Communications Society. Do you provide radio as well? I notice there is a newspaper.


COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: And there is a dictionary about telecommunications, which I thought was very interesting. I think we can learn a lot about --

MR. SANDERS: It was fun to write.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: -- definitions of issues that we regulate. What kinds of things do you do?

MR. SANDERS: Wawatay has been in existence now roughly 25 years. We are essentially three media. We are newspaper, as you noticed, but we also operate a radio network that serves all the communities on the map, plus we have television service production facilities in Moose Factory and production in Sioux Lookout. Those two production centres produce Cree and Oji-Cree programs that are sent, literally, in Purolator tapes to Toronto, where they are put on the OLA channel, the Ontario Legislative Assembly channel, every Sunday afternoon at 6:00 central time. And it's the only way to get those programs back up to the North, because the OLA system is universal across the North.

So we are both newspaper, radio and television, plus we are obviously -- because of people like me and the kind of work that we do, we have been advocates for our communities as far as better communications for 25 years.


Lastly, I want to ask about your fund.

Commissioner Wylie, you will find this encouraging because even if they do us out of a job with the CRTC, somebody has come up with an idea of a new agency --

MR. SANDERS: Another body, yes.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: -- that maybe you can head at that point.


COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: But how would that agency work? Essentially, what you are suggesting is that there be a fund based on levies to -- and I will use the word "levy" rather than tax --


COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: -- to the telecommunications system across the country.

MR. SANDERS: Let's call it an equity fund.


MR. SANDERS: That's its intent. We are attempting to establish a way of building equity in this country, so let's call it an equity fund.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: And who would you see being part of that?

MR. SANDERS: If you read our submission, we go into a little detail on that. We don't have any hard numbers. I don't think there is any magic in whether it should have seven or 12 people, but we suggest a mix of independent thinkers, as we call them, representatives of consumer groups, you know, a fairly broad-based kind of selection of people, federally appointed.

It would be a national fund, not a regional kind of system. We suggest one strong national fund because, in our view, one of our problems here is that we have this hodgepodge of regional systems all over the country, and we don't have one set of good national standards, like the Telecom Act says we have.

So we are empowering this body, supposedly, to have the funds to raise the standards up across the country. So it would be a national body as opposed to just an Ontario-Quebec body or any particular province.


There was a suggestion earlier about having municipal involvement on that to ensure some sort of local control I suppose. Is that --

MR. SANDERS: There's two issues --

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Is that a separate issue?

MR. SANDERS: I'm talking about the national fund that would administer the high-cost service fund.


MR. SANDERS: And then, when you spend the money presumably it would be spent on a local basis with all sorts of input: First Nations input if you are on a reserve, municipal input if you are in a municipality. I'm no techie expert, but my understanding is that people want different things in different parts of the country.

What people want in Attawapiskat is not necessarily the same as what they want in South Porcupine. So conceivably though, digital technology being what it is, if there was a fund whereby either South Porcupine or Attawapiskat or whoever could apply to build the infrastructure, then it's up to local systems to define what they want to use that black box for. It may be quite different in South Porcupine than it is in Attawapiskat, but the principle of equity should still be the same.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. Actually, I do have one other last question, which is, you mentioned you had some suggestions about how we should be doing consultations.


COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Can you just tell me what page that is on, so we don't miss it easily?

MR. SANDERS: Okay. It's our answer to question 14. It's on page 44. It starts on page 44.


Thanks very much.

MR. SANDERS: Thank you for this opportunity.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Sanders.

I had already been aware that you had filed a short written presentation before and promised us a more detailed submission. I see you have been true to your word, and that there is a lot of material here which we will certainly read and take into consideration.

And we thank you for your presence today.

MR. SANDERS: Thank you for the opportunity.


--- Applause/Applaudissements.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: Yes. I apologize, Madam President.

We have Louis Decaire from Iroquois Falls, who is part of the group.



THE CHAIRPERSON: Ah-ha. You didn't want to miss the opportunity, eh, now that we found you so charming.

Good evening, Mr. Decaire.

MR. DECAIRE: Good evening. You thought you had heard the last of Nellie Lake. Not quite!

I have been a customer of Northern Telephone's party-line system for the last 20 years. As the millennium comes to an end I am very frustrated at having to use and endure such an antiquated system.

For those of you that have no first-hand knowledge of the party-line system, I wish to point out the following disadvantages:

I will begin with the lack of privacy. Confidential matters, financial or personal, can never be discussed on the phone for fear that such conversations can be overheard by another party-line member.

Discussions are routinely interrupted by others seeking access to the line.

The constant noise when lines are open and closed is most annoying.

Children periodically play with the phone system, causing an additional disturbance.

The system is not easily accessed.

Numerous friends, associates, and clients complain that they are quite often unable to reach us and get a busy signal instead. This leads to missed medical appointments, lost business opportunities and missed communications.

At times the system has been locked out accidentally or intentionally by one of the party members who has left their receiver off its cradle. This places the remaining party members in a helpless state, unable to make or receive calls. We aren't able to phone for an ambulance in case of an accident, or phone the fire department in case of a fire, or phone the police in case of an intruder, or phone a taxi for a ride to work.

Then there is the case of being awakened by a call in the middle of the night. This is usually a source of great anxiety and concern. Has there been a death in the family or has some drunk just misdialled?

The party-line system voids the possibility of using some key technology: answering machine, fax machine, electronic mail, Internet services.

As a teacher, I was offered the opportunity of becoming a member of the Electronic Village in its early stages. This would have meant an access to an array of curriculum, tests, assignments, and other teaching aids. Unfortunately, the party-line system made this impossible.

In initiating the party-line system countless years ago, Northern Telephone would have incurred a certain expenditure. I find it hard to believe that the system has not paid for itself. I suspect whatever profits might have been derived from this system have been diverted to urban areas.

The results are that we are in the North and we are falling further behind and are being treated like second-class citizens. Our needs have been ignored. Promises to upgrade the system have been made and broken.

I implore the Commission for assistance in remedying an intolerable system.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Decaire.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Decaire, for adding your own personal voice to the plea that Nellie Lake and Iroquois Falls has made to us.

MR. DECAIRE: Thank you for hearing me out.


Madam Secretary.

THE SECRETARY: Madam Chairman, we will now go to Moosonee, Paul Lantz.



MR. LANTZ (Remote): Good evening. I'm here tonight with Emily Linklater.

MS LINKLATER (Remote): Hello. My name is Emily Linklater.


MS LINKLATER: I am a residential telephone user -- pardon me?

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Good evening to both of you, Ms Linklater and Mr. Lantz.

MS LINKLATER: I am a residential telephone user in Moosonee. We have no road access into Moosonee, and our local telephone company is O.N. Tel.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me, Ms Linklater. Please, could you speak more louder? We have difficulty hearing you.

MS LINKLATER: Okay. Did you hear the first part?

THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe you can start again, if you don't mind, and try to increase the volume of your voice.

MS LINKLATER: Okay. I am a residential telephone user, and I live here in Moosonee. We have no road access, and O.N. Tel, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, is our local telephone company.

I will have Mr. Paul Lantz read my statement as I have a bad cold today.

Go ahead, Paul.

MR. LANTZ: Thank you.

I believe that it is very important that residents of remote areas have access to high-quality telephone service at reasonable cost. As a consumer, I am not in a position to take a detailed position on the technical and financial issues involved.

However, I believe that the Commission needs to be guided by the following statements:

People in remote areas already face very high prices for goods and services. They are also subject to high levels of unemployment. Many families are in receipt of social assistance.

Where we live in Moosonee, one of the few bargains is local telephone service. Today it is priced at a level that almost anyone can afford. Any significant increase will place this basic service beyond the means of many people. We are concerned that the cost of local telephone service here is scheduled to increase.

While local service is inexpensive, the local calling area -- about 4,000 people in Moosonee and Moose Factory -- is very small. As a result, residents find it necessary to make extensive use of long distance service which is provided only by our local telephone company. Despite rate reductions over the last few years, many residents have very high long distance bills.

Residents of remote areas need access to high quality and modern telephone services. We are fortunate in having very good basic service where we live, but we would benefit from access to a greater variety of telephone services. This may be facilitated through the introduction of competition.

Universal access to telephone service must be maintained. It is reasonable that service to people in remote areas be subsidized by all, all users of telephone service in Canada. It is unfair and unrealistic for this burden to be met by a limited range of telephone users, for example, the customers of a particular telephone company. I believe that the Commission should take the opportunity to consider a broad range of solutions to accomplish this goals, including:

- the imposition of a flat rate monthly charge on all telephone bills;

- a monthly charge on all telephone bills calculated on a percentage basis;

- and the possibility of special surcharges on all telephone bills to cover extraordinary expenses.

Finally, I feel that the facilitation of public participation in consultations of this nature needs to receive greater emphasis. Telecommunications decisions are too important to the lives of all of us to leave input in the hands of industry insiders.

Because we have internet access, we were able to review a variety of documents that were filed in response to the public notice. However, even with this advantage, we found that:

- many of the documents assumed specialized knowledge not easily available to the public. It would have been very helpful had there been a single, detailed document about the current regulatory scheme that would have included information such as the source and application of subsidy funds for high-cost serving areas;

- many documents were not available in electronic form and were therefore not immediately available. We suggest that the Commission should require that all documents be submitted in electronic form or that the Commission assume responsibility for having documents available in electronic form. It would likely be acceptable to do this by scanning the documents, as long as they are not too long, as would be the case with most from members of the public;

- we also found that the indexing and summarizing of documents on the Commission's web site did not facilitate their retrieval. All too often, the document summaries consisted simply of the first part of the document itself, mainly the address of the CRTC. The document summaries should be real summaries. This may require manual generation.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commission and Ontario Northland for making possible our participation in these proceedings without incurring the time and expense involved in a trip to an urban centre. As you may or may not be aware, for us to come to see you in Timmins would cost between $300 and $400 each just for the plane ride.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of our presentation.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Lantz, Ms Linklater.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Thank you both for doing this because it certainly gives us a bit of a window into Moosonee for today's hearing.

I am particularly interested in your comments with regards to the Commission's ability to communicate with people, how we do communications, and also the comments about our web site. We are trying to go high-tech, and we are doing this gradually.

For the hearing coming up, you will be interested -- there is a hearing which starts around now in terms of the information coming in regarding the future of Canadian television policy, and all the information that we receive electronically will be available on our web site. This has been specifically to allow people across the country to have access to that information, because currently we only have five examination rooms across the country.

So if you want to see what people are saying on something like the Canadian television policy, for once there will be this additional ability to see all the material that comes in electronically -- to be able to see it through the web site. I would be interested in hearing back from you, at your convenience, about how you find how that works.

With regards to the service in your area, you didn't mention the issue of party-lines too much. Is that not one of your main concerns? You are looking more at issues of quality, things like voice mail and other services?

MR. LANTZ: While we live in a remote community, we are fortunate that we don't have any party lines here, as far as I know.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Okay. And to what extent do people have access to telephone, even on the individual lines? Is there a satisfactory degree of access to basic telephone? People who want telephone, are they able to get a telephone?

MR. LANTZ: In Moosonee, a community of approximately 2,000 people, right now we have approximately 1,000 or a few more actual telephone lines. Anyone who wanted telephone service could get it here.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: One other question just in terms of background about your organization, the Native Legal Services. What kinds of issues do you deal with? Is this one of the issues you deal with on a regular basis, telecommunications, or are they mostly different sorts of issues that you are addressing?

MR. LANTZ: On the whole, we would generally deal with other issues. This is the first time we have been involved in anything to do with telecommunications.


THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Linklater and Mr. Lantz for your participation.

Nice to hear from Moosonee. I think you were the only party making a presentation from that site, and we thank you again.

Madam Secretary.

THE SECRETARY: We will now go to Hearst, Jean-Marie Blier, Victor Lacroix.

M. LAMARCHE: Bonsoir, mon nom est Pierre Lamarche. Je représente la compagnie Northern Telephone. J'aimerais aviser la Commission que M. Jean-Marie Blier n'est pas présent ce soir, mais que M. Victor Lacroix est présent.

LA SECRÉTAIRE: C'est bien. On peut procéder avec Monsieur.

M. LAMARCHE: Alors, est-ce que la Commission veut entendre M. Lacroix immédiatement?


M. BLIER: Je suis Jean-Marie Blier, Madame la présidente.


--- Rires/Laughter

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Je regrette, Monsieur. Nous avons M. Blier ici, en chair et en os.

M. BLIER: En personne.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Alors, nous allons l'entendre d'abord, et nous entendrons M. Lacroix après, si ça vous va.

Est-ce que vous m'avez entendu?

M. LACROIX: Oui, j'ai compris ça. C'est beau.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Ça va. Allez-y, M. Blier. Vous nous avez fait une surprise là?

M. BLIER: Non, j'avais toujours dit que je serais présent à l'audience publique.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Ah oui, mais nous croyions que vous seriez à Hearst, et alors, il y a peut-être une erreur quelque part.

M. BLIER: D'accord.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Nous vous croyions à Hearst, et vous voilà.



M. BLIER: Bonsoir, Madame la présidente.


M. BLIER: Chers membres de la Commission. Mon nom est Jean-Marie Blier. Je suis le Maire de la Ville de Hearst, et j'aimerais certainement vous souhaiter la bienvenue dans le nord de l'Ontario, tout particulièrement à Hearst, et j'espère que la prochaine audience publique sera justement dans la région de Hearst. Je ferai ma présentation en français.

J'aimerais tout d'abord vous féliciter d'avoir amorcé cette instance en vue d'examiner les questions relatives au service téléphonique dans les zones éloignées, à coût élevé et d'avoir voyagé jusqu'au lointain Nord-Ontario pour écouter nos inquiétudes.

Le problème le plus courant est, bien sûr, celui des lignes communes à plusieurs abonnés dans le secteur rural, ce qui inclut la zone géographique de Hearst, comprenant une population d'environ 10 000 habitants.

Le niveau de frustration des résidents dépourvus de ligne téléphonique privée est très élevé, et nous nous trouvons souvent au milieu d'une controverse car les contribuables mettent beaucoup de pression sur la Ville, en tant que gouvernement local, pour qu'action politique soit prise afin de faire avancer les choses.

Il y a d'innombrables problèmes avec les lignes communes avec plusieurs abonnés et voici les plaintes les plus courantes, tout d'abord:

• manque de privé empêchant les résidents et résidentes ruraux d'entreprendre toute discussion de nature personnelle ou confidentielle, de peur à être entendus;

• limite d'accès à la ligne téléphonique, puisque celle-ci doit être partagée avec d'autres qui monopolisent la ligne parfois plus longtemps que le temps raisonnable;

• source de confrontation lorsqu'un abonné monopolise trop longtemps la ligne et refuse d'en allouer l'utilisation, même parfois pour une urgence;

• contrainte sérieuse aux petites entreprises s'établissant dans le Nord, empêchant davantage les occasions de développement économique, les lignes communes allant évidemment à l'encontre de l'efficacité commerciale;

• incapacité de fonctionner avec ou de profiter de la technologie de télécommunication moderne comme le courrier électronique, la route de l'information, la télécopie, la téléconférence, la boîte vocale, et bien d'autres.

Le marché de la communication change à une allure époustouflante, mais pourtant les secteurs ruraux sont forcés de demeurer stagnants. La qualité de vie et la compétition commerciale sont continuellement rehaussées dans le secteur urbain, au détriment des résidents et entrepreneurs ruraux.

Le Nord de l'Ontario n'est pas différent des pays tu Tiers-Monde en matière de systèmes téléphoniques. Nous avons fait demande sur demande à Northern Telephone et aux autorités gouvernementales, mais sans succès jusqu'à aujourd'hui.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Excusez-moi, M. Blier. Il semblerait que la liaison avec les autres sites a encouru un problème. Alors, les autres gens ne peuvent pas vous entendre.

M. BLIER: D'accord.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et je suis certaine que vous préféreriez, si c'était le cas... alors, nous allons attendre quelques minutes, et malheureusement, vous pourrez reprendre à ce moment-là.

M. BLIER: Certainement.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Vos compatriotes de Hearst, comme ça, pourront vous entendre.

--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Nous allons prendre une pause de 5 minutes dans l'espoir qu'on pourra raccrocher les liaisons pendant ce moment-là, et on vous demandera, à ce moment-là, peut-être de revenir en arrière une page pour s'assurer...

M. BLIER: Depuis le début? J'avais seulement une page de...

LA PRÉSIDENTE: ...que nous avons toute votre présentation.

M. BLIER: D'accord.

THE CHAIRPERSON: So we will take a 5-minute break in the hope that our technical difficulties will be solved.

--- Recessed at 1952/Suspension à 1952

--- Resumed at 1959/Reprise à 1959

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Vous semblez avoir impressionné tellement les gens que tout a sauté. Alors, si vous voudrez bien recommencer s'il vous plaît, les liens ont maintenant été rétablis.

M. BLIER: Certainement, Madame la présidente, merci beaucoup pour avoir laissé le temps aux problèmes techniques de se réparer.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: À l'ordre s'il vous plaît.

M. BLIER: J'aimerais tout d'abord vous féliciter d'avoir amorcé cette instance en vue d'examiner les questions relatives au service téléphonique dans les zones éloignées, à coût élevé et d'avoir voyagé jusqu'au lointain, le nord de l'Ontario, pour écouter nos inquiétudes.

Le problème le plus courant est, bien sûr, celui des lignes communes à plusieurs abonnés dans le secteur rural, ce qui inclut la zone géographique de Hearst, comprenant une population d'environ 10 000 habitants.

Le niveau de frustration des résidents dépourvus de ligne téléphonique privée est très élevé, et nous nous trouvons souvent au milieu d'une controverse car les contribuables mettent beaucoup de pression sur la Ville, en tant que gouvernement local, pour qu'action politique soit prise afin de faire avancer les choses.

Il y a d'innombrables problèmes avec les lignes communes avec plusieurs abonnés et voici les plaintes les plus courantes:

• manque de privé empêchant les résidents et résidentes ruraux d'entreprendre toute discussion de nature personnelle ou confidentielle, de peur d'être entendus;

• limite d'accès à la ligne téléphonique, puisque celle-ci doit être partagée avec d'autres qui monopolisent la ligne parfois plus longtemps que le temps raisonnable;

• source de confrontation lorsqu'un abonné monopolise trop longtemps la ligne et refuse d'en allouer l'utilisation, même parfois en cas d'urgence;

• contrainte sérieuse aux petites entreprises s'établissant dans le Nord, empêchant davantage les occasions de développement économique, les lignes communes allant évidemment à l'encontre de l'efficacité commerciale;

• incapacité de fonctionner avec ou de profiter de la technologie de télécommunication moderne comme le courrier électronique, la route de l'information, la télécopie, la téléconférence, la boîte vocale, et bien d'autres.

Le marché de la communication change à une allure époustouflante, mais pourtant les secteurs ruraux sont forcés de demeurer stagnants. La qualité de vie et la compétition commerciale sont continuellement rehaussés dans le secteur urbain au détriment des résidents et résidentes et entrepreneurs ruraux.

Le Nord de l'Ontario n'est pas différent des pays tu Tiers-Monde en matière de systèmes téléphoniques. Nous avons fait demande sur demande à Northern Telephone et aux autorités gouvernementales, mais sans succès, jusqu'à aujourd'hui.

Cependant, nous devons reconnaître que Northern Telephone a investi dans la technologie au cours des dernières années, mais seuls ils ne peuvent réussir car ils doivent s'occuper d'un vaste territoire principalement rural et avec une base de clientèle très limitée.

Quoique l'intention du CRTC d'établir un Fonds pour les zones éloignées à coût élevé soit la première lueur d'espoir dans la résolution de ce problème de longue date qui paralyse le Nord, nous demeurons sceptiques. Les résidents et résidentes du Nord ne font plus confiance au système après avoir été mis de côté depuis si longtemps.

Nous avons rencontré Northern Telephone à de multiples occasions et nous comprenons leur situation financière difficile. Il n'y a évidemment d'autre choix que d'avoir un système comme le Fonds pour coûts élevés. Il servira de mode d'égalisation pour intégrer le Nord au reste de l'Ontario, au Canada et aussi au monde entier.

Un autre domaine dont il faut parler est le système interurbain pour lequel nous sommes limités à seulement un fournisseur avec un assortiment de taux standards. La compétition est partout dans le sud de l'Ontario et dans la plupart des autres provinces du Canada, tandis que dans le Nord, nous n'avons qu'un choix. Cela augmente évidemment le coût des affaires, et pour les résidents et résidentes, contribue avec d'autres facteurs comme le chauffage, la nourriture, naturellement l'essence, les voyages, et bien d'autres, à un coût de la vie beaucoup plus élevé.

En raison des distances, il est vraiment très difficile pour le Nord de l'Ontario de compétitionner avec les plus grands centres et les efforts de développement économique sont souvent ralentis par des éléments externes d'une telle nature.

Un autre secteur d'importance cruciale est la technologie "largeur de bande de haute vitesse" qui introduire la télémédecine et le diagnostic par image aux médecins et hôpitaux du Nord. Par conséquent, la qualité des soins de santé aux régions rurales et éloignées du pays sera rangement améliorée au point que l'accès aux médecins dans les domaines spécialisés sera disponible sur-le-champ. Ainsi, le besoin pour les résidents et résidentes de parcourir de longues distances dans les grands centres du sud diminuerait et en outre, la rapidité du diagnostic augmenterait de façon très significative.

Par conséquent, nous recommandons ce qui suit:

• documenter objectivement l'étendue et la nature des problèmes de télécommunication dans le Nord;

• déterminer le coût pour rectifier le problème et mettre en place une technologie moderne qui offrira des lignes privées et un accès aux services modernes;

• consulter les gouvernements fédéral et provincial et rechercher des sources de financement comme le Fonds du patrimoine du Nord de l'Ontario;

• établir un Fonds d'amélioration des coûts élevés avec des contributions de tous les usagers du téléphone canadiens;

• adopter un plan stratégique afin d'éliminer complètement le problème et établir une cible pour l'année du millénaire, afin que tous les Canadiens commencent le prochain siècle sur une base égale en matière de télécommunications. Le gouvernement fédéral devrait prendre une part active dans ce domaine; et

• informer les résidents et les résidentes que des mesures donnant des résultats concrets sont imminentes.

Merci beaucoup de votre attention et considération, et je suis certainement ouvert à répondre à toute question ou à vous faire d'autres commentaires, si vous le désirez.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci, M. Blier.

M. Blier, quand vous mentionnez 10 000 habitants, vous parlez de la ville de Hearst elle-même?

M. BLIER: La ville de Hearst et les environs. La ville de Hearst comprend 6 000 personnes dans les limites de la ville. Nous avons des territoires non-organisées qui comprennent 1 200 personnes, et aussi nous avons une municipalité à 20 milles de Hearst, à l'est, qui s'appelle Mattice-Val Côté, qui comprend aussi un autre 1 000 personnes. Et aussi, nous avons à l'ouest de Hearst, à 25 milles à l'ouest, une réserve autochtone qui comprend un autre 1 000 personnes.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et du 10 000, combien il y aurait de personnes qui n'ont pas de service?

M. BLIER: Une bonne question. Je vous dirais peut-être de 15 à 20 pour cent.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Quinze à vingt pour cent de la région que vous avez décrite?

M. BLIER: Oui, de toute la région que j'ai mentionnée.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et combien à peu près... quel serait le pourcentage qui n'aurait pas accès à une ligne privée?

M. BLIER: Est-ce que c'est pas la même question?

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Non, je disais, pas de service.


LA PRÉSIDENTE: Aucun service.

M. BLIER: Non, nous avons tous les services.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Tous ces 10 000 habitants auraient des services?

M. BLIER: Oui, madame.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et le chiffre que vous m'avez donné c'est pour ceux qui ont des lignes communes plutôt que des lignes privées?

M. BLIER: C'est ça, oui. Excusez-moi, j'avais mal compris votre question.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Avez-vous l'impression que ces gens-là seraient prêts à payer une somme excédentaire pour avoir une ligne privée?

M. BLIER: Je crois que si le service est amélioré... je crois que les gens sont prêts à débourser un certain montant pour améliorer la qualité.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et je suppose que, comme tout le monde, les gens de la ville de Hearst espèrent aussi avoir accès, à un certain moment, à des services améliorées.

M. BLIER: Oui.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et de là viendrait votre désir d'un système quelconque qui permettrait, à des frais raisonnables, cet accès-là.

M. BLIER: À des frais raisonnables qui seraient peut-être imposés un peu partout dans le Nord de l'Ontario ou ailleurs en province ou au Canada.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Oui. Alors, vous envisagez possiblement un système provincial ou pan-canadien? Est-ce que vous voyez un avantage quelconque à l'une ou à l'autre des formulations?

M. BLIER: Bien, nous sommes certainement ouverts à toutes sortes de services qui seront efficaces pour les gens de Hearst et des environs.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Et d'un système de subventions qui permettrait cet accès-là, quel qu'il soit?

M. BLIER: Oui, certainement qu'on serait d'accord avec cette chose-là.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Je vous remercie, M. le Maire, d'être venu nous voir.

Et M. Lacroix, nous vous remercions de votre patience. Mais puisque vous écoutiez votre Maire, je suis certaine que vous étiez bien prêt à entendre. Je vous remercie, M. Blier

M. BLIER: Merci, Madame.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Madame la secrétaire, peut-être que vous pouvez rappeler à M. Lacroix qu'il est le prochain.

THE SECRETARY: We will now go to Hearst. M. Victor Lacroix.



LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonsoir, M. Lacroix.

M. LACROIX (Remote): Bonsoir. Est-ce que vous me voyez bien, oui?

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Parfaitement.

M. LACROIX: O.k. Mon nom est Victor Lacroix. Je suis membre de la Chambre de commerce de Hearst-Mattice-Val Côté. Ma présentation sera très brève.

Voilà plus de deux ans que nos membres en région rurale se plaignent pour l'amélioration du service offert par Northern Telephone.

De même, notre association s'est entretenue par lettres et des réunions avec des représentants de Northern Telephone, pour demander le remplacement de lignes téléphoniques partagées pour des lignes privées. Nous avons reçu pour seule réponse que le Northern Telephone partage notre désir mais n'avait pas les fonds nécessaires et, de plus, qu'un tel projet n'était tout simplement pas rentable.

À ce jour, aucun progrès tangible n'a été enregistré, ni même de date pour peut-être une réalisation de ce projet. Lors de notre dernière rencontre à Kapuskasing, les représentants de Northern Telephone nous donnaient comme seul espoir de venir récriminer nos demandes à cette audience.

Puis-je donc vous citer, tel que décrit dans la Loi des télécommunications, que la politique canadienne de télécommunications vise à permettre l'accès aux Canadiens dans toutes les régions rurales ou urbaines du Canada à des services de télécommunications sûrs, abordables et de qualité.

Donc, si chaque Canadien a droit, premièrement, à des services, comment expliquer qu'en région éloignée on n'a même pas la valeur d'un seul de ces services. On doit le partager à deux ou quatre.

Il me semble impossible qu'en '98 un commerçant n'ait pas accès au télécopieur, répondeur, ou encore à l'Internet. N'est-il pas aussi et même plus important à un résident éloigné qu'à un résident urbain de communiquer avec le reste du monde?

Il faut bien comprendre que, de nos jours, télécommuniquer n'est plus seulement que parler au téléphone et que la nouvelle technologie devrait être accessible à tous.

Nous espérons que le CRTC remplira son rôle très rapidement et fournira les mécanismes nécessaires, notamment dans le cas à Northern Telephone ou autre compagnie, s'il y a lieu, pour moderniser le système de lignes partagées à un système privé et multi-fonctionnel et, de ce fait, permettre l'accès à tous les Canadiens à des services de télécommunications sûrs, abordables et de qualité.

C'était là la majeure partie de ma présentation.

Concernant les subventions, c'est bien certain qu'il n'y a pas personne qui veux voir son compte augmenter s'il a déjà tous les services. Mais l'option, je crois, qui est la plus viable c'est justement d'aller sur un terrain national prendre toute la population plus grande possible pour avoir le moins d'augmentation, peut-être de l'ordre de seulement... en bas de $1, en prenant le plus de population possible.

Au lieu d'augmenter... probablement que si on parlait du terrain de Northern Telephone, il faudrait doubler ou plus les frais pour couvrir les dépenses, parce que maintenant il y a même la technologie sans fil disponible, et je crois c'est peut-être moins dispendieux que qu'est-ce que Northern Telephone avait déjà fait ses estimés avec. Ça peut coûter un investissement entre 800 et 1 200 $ par abonné, pour fournir le service.

C'est la fin de ma présentation. Est-ce qu'il y a des questions?

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Nous vous remercions, M. Lacroix, et surtout d'avoir été bien patient pendant que nous nous raccordions avec Hearst.

Votre présentation, ainsi que celle du Maire, pour la région de Hearst, est complète, et nous vous remercions de votre participation, et évidemment, vos propos feront partie du procès-verbal de l'instance.

Nous vous remercions, M. Lacroix, et bonsoir.

M. LACROIX: Merci et bonsoir.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Madame la secrétaire, s'il vous plaît, pouvez-vous appeler le prochain participant?

THE SECRETARY: We will now be going to Haileybury, Terry Fiset.



THE CHAIRMAN: M. Fiset, vous nous entendez? You can hear us?

MR. FISET (Remote): Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Fiset.

MR. FISET: My home is mainly on the Township of James, Elk Lake. We definitely fall into the high-cost serving area I guess.

The Township of James, Elk Lake is a small Northern Ontario community, population approximately 550 people. It is located on the Montreal River, 66 kilometres northwest of New Liskeard on Highway 65.

The Elk Lake Planing Mill Limited is our largest employer in Elk Lake, with approximately two-thirds of the workforce in Elk Lake at the sawmill and related companies come from the tri-towns of Englehart, Earlton and surrounding areas. The mill and the resource base on the Elk Lake management unit are key reasons for the survival of the service sector in the greater chunk of Timiskaming. Whatever happens on the Elk Lake or benefits the Elk Lake unit definitely impacts on the rest of Timiskaming.

In 1996 the removal of the Native Land Caution, which prevented any development over a 4,000 square mile area for about 23 years, was removed. After that, there existed a boom for mining exploration, industrial development, et cetera.

In an article that appeared in the local papers in May 1998, Northern Development and Mines Minister, Chris Hodgson, stated it was their government that announced the land use claim in Temagami that settled the area's protection issue and led to the greatest staking boom in Ontario's history. That was in our community and the surrounding area around it.

As a result of this staking boom, substantial mineral deposits have been found in areas, Matachewan, Gowganda, Shining Tree and Elk Lake. The development of new mines is a distinct possibility. Modern telecommunications technology is crucial to any future mining investment in the area.

Our manufacturing centres are the engine of the local economy and they must have access to modern telecommunication technology in order to survive.

As Reeve of the Township of James I wish to draw your attention to the following: Although we live off the Highway 11 corridor through Timiskiming we are not second-class citizens.

I have the map, I don't know how well it would show up, if you want to see it, but the people residing in the unorganized areas, the rural areas and the incorporated townships between Highway 11 and James Township to the west, represent a significant portion of the population in Timiskaming District. Quick access to such things as tele-medicine and tele-marketing, et cetera, are out of this area's reach at present.

People living within the built-up area of our Township, Elk Lake proper, have access to private lines, but those living in the rural area within the Township of James remain on party lines. Anyone on the party line cannot access the internet nor can they use any telephone accessories, facsimile machines, security alarms, et cetera.

I am sure you have heard enough today about party lines. I do echo the cause there. I personally am on a party line and have had to acquire all the four lines to ensure privacy and access to a telephone. That is at an additional cost to me personally, but it is something that has to be done, especially if you are an elected official or in a position where you want privacy.

Northern Ontario's telephone service should be at par with the rest of the province and the country and nothing less. At present, the highest tech item on our local phone system is the hold button. We have no digital technology, therefore, no call waiting, call display, call return, and little to no cell coverage in our immediate area.

Our new state-of-the-art water treatment plant, to the tune of $1.2 million, constructed in 1995, is completely computerized. Monitoring and any required adjustments were to be done with the firm who worked on the plant with us from Ottawa. This computer communication has never occurred due to the telephone lines that we have.

With advances in the technology in the forestry and mining sectors, Elk Lake being a forestry community, the forestry and mining sectors, such as on-board electronics and controls on some of the equipment out today with on-board computers and complex monitoring devices, analysis and problem-solving still have to be completed right on site as cell coverage is limited and the telecommunication lines are inadequate.

This technology is the wave of the future and mechanical equipment is used in these sectors. If we are to remain competitive and adapt to changes, we have to have the network to support these sectors.

The General Manager of Elk Lake Planing Mill stated that we are entering the 21st century and we need the telephone system to match the times. The mill has computer link-ups with Espanola, Ottawa and Vancouver. Product sales, shipping details, inventory control are all controlled by this linkage, but a reliable telecommunications network is imperative to the mill in order to compete in this global market.

With our proposed construction of the Elk Lake Eco-Resource Centre in the near future, telecommunications will play an important technological role in worldwide data information exchange and audio-video links, geographical information systems -- GPS -- and ongoing forestry initiatives that are out there. To keep up with the times and be a leader, we have to have the technology.

Although Elk Lake has access to the internet, connections are slow and often disrupted. Just five years ago, our fire phone system, which was more than a disaster I guess, we had to replace that on our own and go with a paging system, put up our own tower and acquire one dedicated line with the tri-towns, with New Liskeard, to upgrade our system because the telephone lines on our old rotary dial system just wouldn't work.

There are 28 tourist outfitters in the GEMS area. That's the Gowganda, Elk Lake, Matachewan, Shining Tree area. If tourism is to become the wave of the future, the industry of the future, then these business owners must have access to the internet and other telecommunications technologies in order to compete in today's tourism market.

I have an article that was sent to us -- we do some work with the City of Orillia's Economic Development Corporation, and it's an advertisement out in a supplement "Cybercities" it's called. As stated in that recent article -- it's enclosed:

"If an adequate telecommunications network is in place, your area or location doesn't really matter. Some areas may be better suited for new initiatives or newer developments because of low land costs, related manufacturing, product demonstration and testing grounds, i.e., some of the cold weather testing plants for the automotive manufacturers." (As read)

To keep our area competitive and growing in the future we need a level playing field. To be part of the global market, that market must be at your fingertips.

Opportunities to keep our young people at work in the North can and will arise from more advanced telecommunications. They do grow up with it and do see it every day.

With the benefits in employment, economic well-being and stability provided by this community through its forest industry and resource sectors, that goes to all the District of Timiskaming, the province and so on. It seems to me that we are more than a high-cost service area and deserve better.

Thank you for the opportunity of addressing this very important matter with you this evening.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Fiset.

Commissioner Cardozo.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I have a couple of questions. First, if you could just locate us on the map. I have a map here which doesn't seem to have the Township of James. What I can see, here's Haileybury, Cobalt, Highway 11. Could you situate James on that for me?

MR. FISET: We are going to try to transmit the map to you right now, if they can. Just to give you an idea of where our location is in relation to the rest of Timiskaming, what we were saying about the amount of patented land and population west of the Highway 11 corridor, over towards the Township of James.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: You are west of Highway 11, are you? You are west of Highway 11?

MR. FISET: Yes. You can see where the pen is right now. They can point out the various municipalities, the red line being the Highway 11 corridor going along.

To shift over further to the west, you can follow -- those areas there, a large part of that is party line, but patented -- I mean, patented land, a lot of people living there.

You skip -- you keep going west a little further. That's the Township of James that is circled, right there.

It is an organized municipality. You do go through a few unorganized areas just to the east of it, townships east of it, Barber and those. They are all on party lines too, but they are growing areas and adding population.

If you go further west from Elk Lake, outside 60, you have Gowganda, a small community. It's an unorganized community, but it's also -- the population varies upward. They have over 100 people and, in the summer months, with cottaging and tourism, substantially more.

And to the north of that, I don't know if you see Matachewan, if it's on the map you would have to flip it. Matachewan is a community the same size as us, approximately 550 people, an organized municipality, and it has the same phone system as we do.

We aren't on the 11 corridor, we sort of form a triangle off the 11 corridor to the west, but we still do provide a key amount of resources and future for Timiskaming and the District. So it is imperative that we have the same service as the rest of the Highway 11 corridor and Northern Ontario.

Thank you.


You mentioned that the mill is linked to Espanola and Ottawa. I am just wondering whether you know what the carrier is or what the mechanism. Is that a telephone line?

--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Is that by telephone line, do you know?

--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: Maybe I will try that again.

You mentioned that the mill was linked to Espanola and Ottawa, and I'm just asking whether you know what mechanism, whether it's a telephone line that links the three.

--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques

MR. FISET: Could you repeat the question? I didn't --


You mentioned in your talk that the mill was linked to Espanola and Ottawa. I'm just wondering whether you know whether it's a telephone line that connects the three.

MR. FISET: -- connects the three of them.

--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I take it that was a yes?

MR. FISET: I think they are, yes, but I can verify that for you and forward it on.

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: That covers my questions.

You are right, a number of the issues that you did raise have been raised through the day, and we appreciate you doing this as well.

Thanks very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Just one question, Mr. Fiset. Did you mean that there was a commercial link between the mill and Espanola and Ottawa?

MR. FISET: The mill is owned by the same company, and they have their own computer system, their own network for marketing. How it's hooked up I don't know exactly. It is sort of the highest tech portion in Elk Lake, but it is through the telephone system that is existing.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. I understand your point to be that although you may be in an area that may be considered remote, you may have commercial links in urban areas. That was part of the point you were making I suspect.

MR. FISET: Yes, we do, and it provides a substantial benefit and link, I guess, to the outside, as far as we are concerned. But it is something where we need better and faster and something that we can market to help market our community on into the future.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We understand.

Thank you very much, Mr. Fiset, and good evening to you.

MR. FISET: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: We will now go to Kirkland Lake, Henri Fillion.

--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques




M. FILLION (Remote): I will speak in English please, if you don't mind.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Bonsoir, M. Fillion. Je crois que nous vous voyons et nous vous entendons maintenant.


--- Technical difficulties/Problèmes techniques

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Allez-y. Nous sommes prêts.

MR. FILLION: I just can't hear you. I'm trying to listen on the earpiece here, and I can't hear you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You can hear me now?

MR. FILLION: Yes, I can hear you now.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Go ahead, Mr. Fillion.

M. FILLION: I am from the Sesekinika area. We are 15 kilometres north of Kirkland Lake, also known as Masonvale(ph) Township. We have a summer population of approximately 500 people and, in the winter it drops down to about 100 people.

I would like to speak on problems that we have encountered with the party lines in our area.

First of all, we have been at home all day and never heard the telephone ring. And later on we are told by someone that they tried to get us on the phone, and either it was busy all day long or the phone rang and nobody answered. And I know for a fact we were at home all day and the phone never did ring.

If we had a private line we could have an answering machine, then the people would know if they tried getting a hold of us, if they didn't get a hold of an answering machine then they would know that there was something wrong with the line.

Also, I have been talking long distance -- we have lots of relatives down south -- and have been interrupted by other people on the party line, and we have to talk to them for a couple of minutes to get them off the line so that we can continue our conversation in privacy.

We have been trying to call for service on the electronic equipment that we have at home, and most of these companies that deal with computers and that, they have the auto-attendant service and we cannot get through to them due to having pulse mode on the telephone and not the touch-tone service.

Telephone ads on television keep on pushing the fact that we are moving in a new age, and we are stuck in a dinosaur era. We have no access to any of the perks such as call waiting, call forwarding, access to auto-attendant services or access to the internet.

This is all available to us if we are willing and able to pay an exorbitant mileage fee. As it is, being a single-income home, and most of the people living in the community are elderly people who are on fixed income and they just cannot afford to pay the prices that they are asking for right now.

In emergency situations, if the phone doesn't work properly, we don't have the option of redial on a button, as the phones they provide are strictly basis phones.

I speak both official languages, but I feel it is going to be a while before the rates come down enough that I can afford to get on the electronic highway in any language.

People in our area would be willing to pay in the range of $20 to $30 a month for a private line, but there is no way that we could pay for -- right now, the charges would be approximately $67 per month for one private line. It would be cheaper to get four individual party lines, if you could get them all on the same line, but Northern Telephone has told us that they won't allow that in one single household.

That is pretty well all I have to say on that.

LA PRÉSIDENTE: Nous vous remercions, M. Fillion, d'avoir ajouté vos propos à ce problème de lignes partagées et au désir des gens d'avoir au moins une ligne privée qui leur permettrait d'avoir des services élargis.

Nous vous remercions. Bonsoir.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next presenter, please.

THE SECRETARY: Yes. The next presenter, Don Wright and Mr. A.C. Robert from Timmins.




THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Mr. Wright.

MR. WRIGHT: My name is Don Wright. I'm a little rickety now.

THE CHAIRPERSON: As will I be, I suspect, when I get up.

MR. WRIGHT: I represent people of Ingram Township, which is an unorganized Township about two and-a-half hours from here, south, just past Englehart. If you -- you seem to have a fetish for these maps. I live in the bush.

I am an economist. I have been doing administration. I have been all over this damn continent; there are a lot of miles on this old frame. I think that is why people come to chat with me at times.

I am a late player in this game. A couple of weeks ago they had a meeting, I think it was in New Liskeard, and it caught my attention. I went and I was told all these things by Northern Telephone, that they are independent, they charge $1.10 every quarter mile to put in a private line to our places, none of which is true. They are not a private company, and they won't give you a private line where I live.

They gave me this lovely little book, free. They gave me this lovely little folder, free, two pages in it.

So I decided to investigate a little bit. I didn't go to any great depth, but there are a few little facts I would like to put on you, very concise. I'm a concise man. I just talk a lot.

--- Laughter/Rires

MR. WRIGHT: I always use that age thing, because an old man can get away with a lot of stuff a young man can't get away with.

I have a four-party line and a cell phone. Northern Telephone charges me $32.93 a month for service. On top of this are extremely high costs for the calls made. Israel has the largest per capita cell phone use that I have heard of; they charge $0.03 a minute. That's an eyepopper, isn't it?

With the advent of digital technology and access to other service providers, customers would be able to have only one phone, not two, as in my case. The cell phone and the telephone have the same number, there is no monthly bill, and there is no contract.

It is my understanding that Northern Telephone receives a carrier access tariff which is eight times higher than Bell Canada charges other service providers and that the CRTC -- where the hell was I -- is considering a reduction in that amount while increasing customers' rate by $6 a month, January the 1st, 1999 and January the 1st, 2000.

The Northern Telephone Annual Report indicates an operating revenue of over $54 million and a net income of $3.9 million. An interesting sidenote that I discovered was that the average income of Northern Telephone employees was $64,869.83. This is remarkable for this part of Ontario.

Bell Canada took over Northern Telephone in 1966 -- out of this book -- and currently owns 93 per cent of Northern Telephone stock. There are 581 other shareholders. I think that serious scrutiny of Northern Telephone management practices is warranted. I suspect corporate fraud.

To make matters worse, the government is providing $94,500 of taxpayers' money to provide a study for such an elementary question.

The Northern Telephone submission to you dated May 1, 1998 recommends a number of sources for funding the improvements to its system. This cost should be borne by Bell Canada. The monopoly that Bell Canada holds in the North could easily finance this venture.

I would request that Bell Canada assume their responsibilities toward Northern Telephone. There is no justifiable reason that the people of the North should not receive the same services that Bell provides for its other customers.

And one other thing I would like -- I had a thought while I was sitting back there. Seeing as you are looking for ways to find money, if you go back to talk to those clowns in Ottawa, tell them to put GST on the stock market. It would pay for it in the first year. But no, I have to pay GST on postage stamps, but if you are trading stocks and bonds, you don't pay GST. It's the damnedest thing I ever heard in my life.

Thank you very much. It has been nice meeting you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Nice hearing from you, Mr. Wright.

Commissioner Cardozo, do you have any question?

COMMISSIONER CARDOZO: I don't, only to say that I appreciate your coming and talking from the perspective of people from Englehart as well. A lot of the concerns you have raised have been raised before, but it is useful to hear your particular views from Englehart as well.

MR. WRIGHT: Well, thank you.


MR. WRIGHT: The reason I came here is the Ministry I was with pioneered this thing and I anticipated that what happened this evening was going to happen. That's why I came here.

Thanks again.

THE CHAIRPERSON: You are referring to the provincial Ministry?

MR. WRIGHT: Yes, yes.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Wright, and good evening to you.

Madam Secretary, would you call the next participant please.

THE SECRETARY: The next participant is Mr. Robert.



MR. ROBERT: I have a prepared statement.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

MR. ROBERT: Thanks, Ms Wylie. I know I'm at the end and you had a hard day, so I have prepared a statement for you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: But you, nevertheless, got some applause before you even said a word.

MR. ROBERT: Pardon me?

THE CHAIRPERSON: I said, you nevertheless had some applause before you even said a word.

MR. ROBERT: Oh, yes. Thank you. Thanks to them.

Actually, after hearing -- it has been a good experience.

I come from Foleyet, about 100 kilometres west of here, and I didn't realize the big problem that other communities near me have with a party line because I'm not -- I want to say that when Bell Canada put an extension of their 8-9-9 into Ivanhoe Lake, about 12 kilometres to the west, they have connected with the fiber optic. In the last few years we don't have party lines and I sympathize with my fellow Northerners that are having that problem, and I hope that they will soon be able to enjoy full service, like they have been telling us all night.

I will read from my prepared statement, if you don't mind.


MR. ROBERT: Thank you.

I am retired from the railroad, I worked for the railroad all my life, but I have also been a member of the Ivanhoe Lake Cottagers Association, and still am, and I am a 17-year member and Secretary of the Local Services Board of Foleyet.

As you know, Foleyet is just a small community, and not being a municipality the Ontario Government formed these Local Services Board to address the problems of very small communities.

Foleyet is equidistant between Timmins and Chapleau. The 8-9-9 exchange also serves the Ivanhoe Lake tourist outfitters, cottages and permanent homes about 12 kilometres west of Foleyet.

Foleyet has been well-served by Bell Canada since 1956. I was born in '31. I remember I had just come back as a train operator, or a railroad operator, you know, the Morse Key(ph), and I remember coming back to Foleyet. I was born there, and I remember my parents using the old crank phones, and some of the lumber companies were using these. And when I returned to Foleyet as a train operator, Bell was just there that at time putting in their full service, and it was a real blessing. And I have to say -- I must say that Bell Canada has served us well over the years.

Now, to continue. I remember the crank phones, okay.

The exchange was digitized last December, as Bell promised us about a year earlier, and they did it, and we do have all the services that some of the people don't have. Bell has a tower in Foleyet, and the signals then travel to Timmins via the Ontario Northland tower at Opishing, which I have just recently learned that they own.

From Bell's recent Statement insert:

"Notice to advise all Bell customers of public proceeding on telephone service in rural and remote regions"

-- which is why I am here.

I presume that Foleyet meets the criteria of being in a rural area. I am not certain, however, that we are considered remote, though some of my friends say yes, you have to consider that we are remote.

I am not certain if my presentation is proper, with the emphasis in finding funding mechanisms to service Foleyet and all these other areas I have heard of tonight, or if Bell and its Stentor partners require subsidies to continue the high level of service that we are asking.

That my telephone service has been increased last January may not be considered by Bell as adequate to cover the costs to provide us with their services. Because what I am trying to tell you here now is that, last January, in my phone bill, my three telephone services I have, I received a notice that our rates were going up $2.55, and this is supposed to be right across Ontario and Quebec. Therefore, I hear all this clamour for more funds, more funds. Well, there are going to be more funds because if all the people in Ontario and Quebec that are Bell customers, that is going to represent a lot of money.

Some of this money is supposed to be used for the Year 2000 and all this upgrading. I can sympathize maybe that we need more money, and that is going to be up to the Commission to decide.

Please, however, let me continue my presentation as I believe I can bring some issues to your attention that are of interest to the Commission.

As I told you before, I worked for the railroad all my life in Foleyet, and the railroad tracks go there, the transcontinental line from Toronto to Vancouver. Last Year, Fonorola -- you are all aware of Fonorola -- has been constructing a fiber optic cable on the CNR main line that is expected to be in service this November. The repeater building, which is built already, is about one-eighth of a mile from Bell's facility, maybe less than that.

With the existing telephone communication by Bell and an information superhighway that Fonorola will soon complete, I believe we are well-served presently and in the future. We may not be considered remote, as some of these other localities.

With my last December Bell statements, I was advised that Bell were embarking on a large plan to extend local area dialling -- I haven't heard too much tonight about local area dialling, and this is one of my main reasons to be here -- thus eliminating long distance charges between the affected exchanges. This came with a price increase of about $2.55 for each of my telephone services. I already mentioned that.

However, what Bell did not inform me was that my local area dialling would be extended to Chapleau. They didn't say that. Chapleau is not my business centre. And this was the intention, to connect us to our business centre. Timmins is my business centre, and we are halfway.

I happened to discover Bell's plans by talking to my concerned friends and then had this confirmed by a copy of a letter to the Reeve of Chapleau and a letter that I received from Bell's office of the Vice-President, signed Donna Dickison, dated March 13th instant.

In this letter, Ms Dickison points out that Timmins is not part of Bell territory, that Northern Telephone -- and is served by an independent company, as I just heard this gentleman say about independent company, that we have been confronted with, i.e., Northern Telephone.

I have had verbal assurance -- mind you, it may be secondhand, I was unable to talk to Mr. Delisle, the President of Northern Telephone -- that Northern Telephone is ready to co-operate with Bell.

I also have a letter from Ontario Northland Communications, that O.N. Tel is ready and willing to co-operate with Bell in extending local area dialling from Foleyet to Timmins.

So what I am trying to say here is it seemed that all the players are willing to cooperate. The communication towers are presently directed to Timmins, not to Chapleau. There is no intermediary tower between Foleyet and Chapleau. If Bell is not persuaded to change its plans, it seems improbable that traffic would have to travel first to Timmins, thence to Sudbury and back up to Chapleau, with local area dialling extended from Foleyet to Chapleau, when it is so easy to come to Timmins and stop right here.

I want to expand a little bit on this. I recently met a resident of Alban, who informed me that Alban, near Sudbury, had local area dialling to Sudbury, about 45 miles away. I am aware that Dubreuilville has been extended to Wawa, though this is not confirmed. It's just hearsay on this one. There are probably more communities like this.

Why do we, in Foleyet, have to wait until the third quarter of next year to enjoy the same advantages? Our rates have increased since last January to cover this service. We are paying for it. It is not fair that these communities are enjoying this service while we, in Foleyet, have to wait a further 17 months.

If you tell me that it is because technical changes have to be made, I believe you on that. I submit to you, however, that a computer programmer could very easily, by software, eliminate charges originating from the 8-9-9 exchange to the Timmins exchange of 2-6-4, 2-6-8 and 3-0-1 and vice versa, just on paper. This could be done with our July statements -- or soon is what I am trying to tell you here -- effectively cancelling all long distance charges between our exchanges.

CAP Program and O.N. Tel. When the secretary of the Commission sent out this insert with my last bill, something happened. Something good happened. My big reason to be here and to be dissatisfied with my telephone service is because I didn't have internet. I started internet -- I'm going on 67 now, I started when I was about 55 and I have enjoyed it tremendously.

I have a small business, a satellite business as well, and it was such a big advantage. And I have a bill here I can show you where I paid $90 a couple of months ago because I go often but I just stay $0.10 a minute and I get off right away, and I go again and I get off. But I'm looking forward, because of O.N. Tel and the CAP Program, that very soon, within a month, I will be able to enjoy what you people enjoy in Ottawa. And I will read my paragraph on that.

A major reason for local area dialling is to allow internet access to rural and isolated communities. My urgent need for local area dialling has been somewhat diminished, as of just a week ago. I connect to the internet presently at $6 an hour, plus taxes, with Bell Canada's $0.10 a minute flat a call across Canada -- but now, I don't quite believe that after hearing that tonight -- and I know my recent statement was $90 but before it was often higher.

One of my friends accumulated over $1,200 in Foleyet over a few months. He wasn't aware he was being paying telephone, and he is just a working man. He had to pay it, otherwise his phone would have been cut off.

And I want to tell you the good news, that within a month of my contacting Ontario Northland to give Foleyet internet access, which was made possible the Industry Canada Community Access Program Grant, CAP, the Honourable John Manley, Minister, O.N. Tel has agreed to serve Foleyet as an ISP as early as by the end of this month at a very reasonable one-time cost.

I am telling you, this was about a week ago. I was on a cloud to hear that news, because there is some good news. We in Foleyet, though they needed 60 customers, they are going to get about 30, but the CAP grant of the Liberal Government made it possible. And that was very, very good, and it is probably going to translate into Gogama and Shining Tree and a few other communities.

I congratulate O.N. Tel with its quick response, its professionalism and its commitment to serve the people of Northern Ontario. Thank you Ontario Northland Communications, Mr. Scott Mannering, that I dealt with in North Bay, that -- what I was trying to say all along to the Internet Committee in Foleyet that was set up. They were trying to go by CANCOM, go by hyperlink. I said, "Look, I have a telephone already. All I want you to give me is internet access. I don't mind if it's not super-fast, I just wanted to get access at no extra charge." And I am so happy to tell you that Ontario Northland has done it.

Let's give them a hand.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

MR. ROBERT: I know that some people don't probably share the same emotion as I do tonight, because they have heard a lot of criticism, but there are some good things that do happen.

But even then, if I have, actually, in effect, local area dialling by going on the internet in Foleyet within three weeks from now, it still doesn't address the real reason I was here.

It was local area dialling remains still important to the people of Foleyet and Ivanhoe Lake and Timmins. Despite the fact that Foleyet and Ivanhoe Lake will soon be able to access the internet toll-free within a month, a development that occurred since your announcement of this hearing, local area dialling remains an important issue.

For Foleyet, local area dialling to Timmins is important to us. I have a letter from Mayor Vic Powers of Timmins, supporting this issue. I have it with me if you wish to have a copy. The business and cultural ties are of great importance between our two communities. I hope that I have helped to bring these issues to your attention.

And just before I finish, I am talking about the cultural -- that we have some children in Foleyet that are in high school that come to Timmins. They sometimes board here or they have reason to call their parents and, of course, it is long distance every time. It gets very expensive. This is a good reason for local area dialling.

Our business. We all spend our money here. We spend all our money here in Timmins. Business-wise to be able to call us without no -- we would become like part of Timmins in one way, though we are 100 kilometres away, 52 air miles.

I hope that I have helped bring these issues to your attention and that the participating Stentor telephone companies -- and I learned that word over the internet, what it was all about, went to your site -- to bring these issues to your attention and that the participating Stentor telephone companies can cooperate to make local area dialling between Foleyet and Timmins a reality as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to make this presentation to you, and thank you very much.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Robert, you may well be the last presenter tonight, so it is nice to end on a happy note.

Good evening and thank you very much.

--- Applause/Applaudissements

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary. Would you --

THE SECRETARY: Yes, we will now proceed with the verification with all of our sites. Would you please confirm if you have any other presenters?


OTTAWA: (No audible response/Réponse inaudible).


TEMAGAMI: (No audible response/Réponse inaudible).

THE SECRETARY: Haileybury?

HAILEYBURY: No one in Haileybury.

THE SECRETARY: Kirkland Lake?

KIRKLAND LAKE: No one in Kirkland Lake.


MOOSONEE: Yes, who is speaking?

THE SECRETARY: Yes. Do you have a presenter?


THE SECRETARY: Do you have somebody else who wishes to present?

MOOSONEE: No, I don't.



HEARST: No, we don't.



KAPUSKASING: No one in Kapuskasing.


Do we have anybody from Timmins who wishes to present?



MR. BERTRAND: Good evening, my name is Gerald Bertrand. I'm from Tunis. I'm on the 2-3-2 exchange.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening, Mr. Bertrand.

MR. BERTRAND: Good evening.

My plight is we have party lines. It is very hard to access them or be accessed through them.

Also, I am hearing impaired. So hearing the telephone when I don't have hearing aids on is very difficult. And with the party lines I can't use electronic equipment, a vibrator in the bed to wake me up or lights flashing, which especially sometimes if I am alone I won't hear the phone if I'm more than 10 feet away and that. So an upgrade to private lines would facilitate the use of these electronic equipment.

Also, to be able to use the internet, that would be nice. I am a computer programmer, a two-year graduate, and it is not very nice when you have to go out of town actually to access these things.

That is about all I would have to say on this.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Bertrand.

Would you tell us again where you reside?

MR. BERTRAND: Where we reside? That would be halfway between Iroquois Falls and Cochrane.

THE CHAIRPERSON: And it is called?




THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your participation.

MR. BERTRAND: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary.

THE SECRETARY: These are all the presenters, Madam.

THE CHAIRPERSON: That seems to spell the end of this evening and this day's presentations.

We will now take a 15-minute break which will bring us to 10 after 9:00, at which time we will give the telephone companies the opportunity to reply to any of the comments they have heard, and we would appreciate that their oral presentation not exceed 15 minutes.

So we will see you back here at 10 after 9:00.

Thank you.

--- Recessed at 2059/Suspension à 2059

--- Resumed at 2114/Reprise à 2114

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order please, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to now ask representatives of the telephone companies to reply to any of the comments made to date today.

I would call on Mr. Harriton first, or whoever it is that is going to represent Bell Canada.

MR. HARRITON: I yield, Madam Chairman.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you going to speak for Bell Canada?


MR. DELISLE: No, I will be speaking for Northern Telephone.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Was there some arrangement between you gentlemen, which is consensual as to who comes first?



MR. DELISLE: I'm sorry.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Men's networks.

MR. DELISLE: It's complicated, eh?

THE CHAIRPERSON: They will go over a woman's head any time.

--- Laughter/Rires


MR. DELISLE: Bonsoir, good evening, Madam Chairman, honourable members of the Commission staff, Commissioner Cardozo.

My name is Daniel Delisle. I am the President of Northern Telephone.

First of all, on behalf of Northern Telephone, I would like to thank the Commission for giving us the opportunity to appear before you today, especially to respond to some of the concerns from the two and four-party-line customers regarding the pressing need for individual line service, which we call, in our terms, ILS.

Presently, Northern Telephone provides local telephone services to approximately 60,000 customers located in 32 exchanges in Northeastern Ontario. Although most of our customers have individual line service supported by modern switching technology, still roughly 4,800 of our customers are still served by two and four-party services.

Members of the Commission, if there is one message that we can take away with us today it is that customers in the rural and remote areas of Northeastern Ontario must have urban-grade individual-line services just like their counterparts in Canada in the more populated regions.

We at Northern Telephone recognize this need and have taken the first step to achieve this objective by filing a proposal with the Commission to modernize most of our remaining analog switches by converting them to digital. We are, presently, anxiously awaiting a Commission decision on our switch modernization proposal, so that we can get started on this very needed upgrade.

Now, the second stage of our modernization efforts, which can be accomplished with the proper funding, is to convert the 4,800 customers who are currently on two and four-party service to individual line services. However, as many of the presenters who have appeared here today recognize, it is extremely difficult to develop a financial model to support an ILS or individual line service initiative. This is not to say that individual-line services is not needed by Northern's two and four-party customers. On the contrary, as you could see today, it is desperately needed.

The only problem is that the existing revenues that we presently receive are not sufficient to finance an initiative to upgrade to individual line services. They presently only allow us to maintain service at existing levels.

For this reason, we have proposed in this proceeding, a combination of high-cost funding mechanisms which would allow us to convert most of our remaining two and four-party customers to individual line services.

I emphasize that we have proposed a combination of funding solutions, including but not excluding government, industry and some subscriber funding, because we have come to the conclusion that there are only so many local rates increases that our customer can bear. Unlike the members of Stentor, we simply do not have a large base of urban subscribers over which to spread the cost of an ILS or individual line service initiative.

So we are here today to say that we hear our subscribers, our customers, and we want them to know that we are just as eager as they are to modernize our switches and to convert our two and four-party customers to individual line services.

We also want them to know that we too believe that modernization of our network, including conversion to private line services, must take place sooner than later.

Finally, we want them, our customers, to know that we consider customer choice to be of paramount importance and that all our customers should have now a choice of service provider.

In closing, Madam Chair, honourable Member, I would like to thank all of our customers who not only took the time, but for many the courage, to come here today and to express their views and their concerns. We would like, and we want to assure you that we at Northern Telephone will be responding to each and every one of them in writing with a copy to the Commission.

In addition, and in order to address the specific concerns that were expressed here today regarding the problems associated with multi-party telephone service, I want to assure our customers that the single most important reason why we are participating in this proceeding is to ensure that we obtain high-cost funding for the individual line program as soon as possible.

With that, Madam Chair, I would like to thank the Commission once again for allowing us to appear here today.

Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Delisle, and a good rest of evening to you.

MR. DELISLE: Thank you.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Harriton, are you next?



MR. HARRITON: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

I had expected Northern Telephone to be short, so I was hoping that coming next you would be more indulgent if I were a bit longer. This way we can average out.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We have the patience of Job.

MR. HARRITON: After today, Madam, I can well believe it.

I do want to thank you, Madam Chairman, and you, Commissioner Cardozo, for taking the time in coming here today, for letting us speak. I am also very impressed by the very large number of people who have turned out today to make presentations, and indeed the effort that they have put into those presentations. I think it is a public process like this which ultimately helps us to come to what may be very hard decisions. So in that sense, I am grateful to everybody who has turned out here today.

There have been many issues which were raised before you. I would like to touch briefly on four of them: First of all, the question of customers who currently are under-served, party lines; secondly, the question of customers who have no service at all; third, co-operative efforts to find solutions to some of these problems; and fourth, the nature of subsidies that might be put into place.

So the first issue is, you have heard from a large number of people who have stated that party-line service is unacceptable, no longer acceptable in today's world. Bell Canada agrees. That is why with the Commission's approval we have undertaken a local service improvement program which, by the year 2001, will convert the 60,000 remaining four-party customers -- we will be offering those 60,000 customers the choice of moving to single-line party service if they want to.

The program is being staged over a number of years, because there is a lot of work to be done with limited resources, but we have filed a schedule with you and I think you are aware of the dates that we are expecting to meet, and we fully intend to follow that schedule.

The program of converting from four-party line to individual line will cost about $150 million or approximately $2,500 on average per customer.

As well, we have eliminated monthly extra mileage charges, which were a major irritant. There are still construction charges, but the monthly mileage charges are now -- as of January 1, 1998 are no longer there.

And indeed, we are extending free calling areas so that all customers can call their natural calling centre, this is their economic hub, for free, where presumably an ISP could set up, and in many cases has set up.

Now, there are some quirks in the system, and you heard from Mr. Robert from Foleyet who wound up with a natural calling centre which was perhaps not his first choice. As he said, this was an issue of Timmins being in a different company's territory, and we will look into that to see what we can do to clear that up, with the co-operation of other carriers.

In the specific case of Bancroft, and you have heard from them today, we currently have 600 customers on four-party service and, over the next two years we will offer single-party service to all of them. And if they all choose to go to single-party service -- because they don't have to. If they want to be grandfathered, they can -- but if they all choose to go to single-party service, it will cost $2 million to upgrade them. So this is a serious effort.

As part of the service improvement program, we are also going to complete digitization of our network everywhere. Our network is designed for voice communications, as you know, but with single-line service and with digitization, pretty well all our customers should have access to the internet at reasonable speeds, and we will work with any who do not have that.

Of course, I should mention that this entire program is being funded by an increase in rates which was approved and went into effect in January.

So I think the under-served problem is well on its way to being solved in our territory, albeit not always as fast as everybody would like.

A more serious problem is that of unserved customers. We currently have about 2,500 customers that don't have service today who have asked for it, and we would expect that if we were to start serving unserved territory, there would be likely another 2,500 requests which we don't know about today which would come out.

Our best estimate today of what it would cost to serve all this would be about $110 million, and I say this recognizing that the number is soft since some of the customers, we don't even know who they are at this point. But we are talking something over $20,000 per customer, which is a lot of money. It is not negligible by anybody's standard.

Any solution to this problem is going to have to involve the co-operation of the company of course, but also the customers and various levels of government. From our end, we do need to find ways to lower the costs, and this is a very important priority for us.

A major factor would be the use of wireless technology. We have been conducting trials of various types of wireless access since the spring of 1997. Certain approaches work well in flat, rolling territory, but not in hilly or wooded territory, and we are looking at other approaches in those areas.

One which I personally think is very promising is the possibility of sharing with Bell Mobility, sharing antennas and sharing towers, and using CDMA to roll out service in some of these areas. Again, I'm not sure by how much this would lower the cost but in some areas, we think that it would lower the cost by one-third to one-half. So that is a fairly major improvement.

Of course, even then, we do need licenses from Industry Canada for the spectrum, and that is a major issue. In fact, to us it is of critical importance. We are working hard to get the licenses to be able to use this in rural territory, and we hope that within a year we will have both the technology, know which technology to use, and have the licenses to use it. So at that point we will be able to do more.

We do believe that the quality of service will be as good as wireline service using these techniques. So this is promising.

In this context, as Mr. Jennings from Deer Park stated earlier today, we are exploring wireless approaches to serving his neighbourhood, his development. Our engineers have looked at the problem again, and we believe we have a solution that will be satisfactory, and we will be meeting with him and members of his community very shortly. We will be trying to set up a meeting within a week or so.

Now, you have also heard from other people who don't have service. You have heard from Mrs. Dorothy Wilson. Our records show that to provide wire-line -- that is the traditional type of service to the community where she resides -- we would be talking of an extension of 4.3 kilometres at a cost of $339,000.

For Mr. Étienne Saumure on Lac Lytton, 18 dwellings, that would be about $268,000.

For Mr. Greg Vasey, the cost there would be about $200,000.

In all cases, although we haven't revisited the sites, I do suspect that the use of wireless access would lower these costs considerably. And these are large costs so even a small percentage saving is a lot of dollars. Even though we could lower the cost, I hope we can lower the costs attainable by using wireless, those costs are still very steep, and to cover those costs, the customers, telephone company and various levels of government will all have to play a role.

I don't think any one player can solve the issue. It has to be a co-operative solution.

I would say more generally, there are many situations where I think it is desirable to involve community groups, municipalities, and provincial and federal governments in such a co-operative effort.

You heard today of some examples of such co-operation which I think are very helpful, for example, the Northwestern Ontario Telecommunications Committee, through which high-speed data services were made available to 16 Northern Ontario communities. And here, we saw something like $360,000 funding from FedNor -- that is the federal government -- and matching money from Bell Canada.

Another example, Atikokan Economic Development Corporation, where the Heritage Fund -- this is the provincial government -- put in something like $400,000 out of a total of $600,000 towards a fiber optic system for education in medicine. These are excellent examples of co-operation, I think things that we will be pursuing very actively and things that will help to provide services in northern areas.

Finally, I would like to touch very briefly on the nature of subsidies to high-cost serving areas. You heard several people today suggest the creation of a fund that is national in scope. Such a fund makes me very uneasy. It does remind me of the old Telecom Canada Revenue Settlement Plan that in the end proved unworkable and which we have disbanded. I could go into this at length; I think I will save it for our round of interrogatories, which I'm sure will come.

We do recognize there are certain independent companies that do serve areas that are high-cost. Before they are subsidized from outside their operating territories we think they should look to their own territories to the degree possible. At a minimum, their rates should be at least as high as the prices paid by Bell customers in comparable circumstances. In some cases, they are significantly lower.

As well, the independents should make every effort to reduce their costs and increase their productivity, not an easy task but, as we know, we are under the gun as well to increase our productivity. To the degree that, in fact, even after all these measures, independent companies still need subsidies, they should look to government funding from general tax revenues.

Several speakers today have suggested that subsidies be funded from a very broad base, and you have heard people suggesting ever-increasing sizes of base. Obviously, there is no broader base than general revenues of various levels of government.

Further, as Mr. Sanders of Wawatay pointed out earlier today, there are externalities. In other words, there are general benefits to all of society and to the economy of having as many people as possible connected to the public network. These general benefits to society should be paid for by society as a whole to the degree necessary. They shouldn't be paid for by an extra tax specific to telecommunications services and to their users.

Once again, I would like to thank you and Mr. Cardozo and everybody else here, including the Commission staff, and everybody else who has co-operated with us and everybody else who has come out for this proceeding. I think the public process may be long and detailed and arduous, but it is very, very necessary.

Thank you for it.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Harriton.

We will now hear from O.N. Tel. Ms Marcella, you have the last word.



MS MARCELLA: Thank you.

I would like to welcome you and the Commission and your staff to Northern Ontario.

And before I forget for the third time, I would like to introduce Stephanie Traynor(ph) who has been with us today as our Regulatory Advisor and Counsel.

O.N. Tel does provide local exchange service, as we heard from customers in Moosonee earlier this evening, however, our primary service is we are a long distance service carrier.

Most of the participants tonight have addressed the cost of local issues. However, O.N. Tel faces similar issues that exist for extending our toll network to these same remote and small rural communities.

However, O.N. Tel does want to point out that we have lowered our toll rates over the years, even though customers in the area do not have a choice of suppliers at this time and, in fact, until earlier this year O.N. Tel offered the same toll rates as Bell Canada.

O.N. Tel has listened the concerns of the customers. They have access to broader advertising, et cetera, and are aware of rates that are available to other customers. And we recently, with Commission approval, have introduced our new promotion, to offer 9.9 cent calling anywhere in Canada. However, it is limited to Tuesday evenings and all day Saturdays.

O.N. Tel also wishes for the public and the Commission to be aware that we do re-invest 100 per cent of our earnings back into Northern Ontario, and we have maintained a continuing program of modernization.

I thank you very much for coming to Northeastern Ontario to hear our concerns.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Marcella.

I believe, Madam Secretary, that brings our day to a close.

THE SECRETARY: Yes, it does, Madam Chairman.

THE CHAIRPERSON: We believe this has been a fruitful day, albeit a long one. We wish to thank all presenters for taking the opportunity to bring us their views during today's session, and rest assured that those views will form part of the record when we wrestle with the issues that have been discussed.

I wish to thank my colleague for his participation and the staff for their assistance, as well as the court reporter. I also wish to reiterate the Commission's thanks to Bell Canada and especially to O.N. Tel for making these audio-video links possible, which have certainly had the effect of expanding the number of people we have been able to interface with.

I thank you all and have a good rest of this evening.

Good night.

--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 2137/

L'audience se termine à 2137

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