A woman walks past a Freedom Mobile story in Toronto on November 24, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
By Sammy Hudes
Freedom Mobile will offer a $50 monthly plan that includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 40 gigabytes of data usable throughout Canada and the U.S. following its acquisition by Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron.
The $2.85 billion acquisition was prompted by Rogers Communications Inc.’s takeover of Shaw Communications Inc., which agreed last year to sell Freedom Mobile in an attempt to ease competition concerns as a requirement for the merger.
As part of conditions laid out by Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne in March, Videotron must offer plans that are at least 20 per cent lower than its competitors’ and spend $150 million over the next two years to upgrade Freedom Mobile’s network.
The company said that work is underway, with teams dedicated to upgrading the wireless network to support the upcoming implementation of 5G technology and seamless roaming.
But the newly announced plan, which marks Freedom’s first offering with national coverage, “goes well beyond any of the expectations that were set by Ottawa,” telecommunications consultant Mark Goldberg said.
“This isn’t just 20 per cent. It’s a unique package,” he said.
“This is a statement by Freedom that they’re going to be establishing themselves in the marketplace.”
While he said it’s not the first time a Canadian carrier has offered transborder roaming, “it’s certainly the lowest price I’ve seen for it and it’s showing some aggressive price competition.”
Earlier this year, Champagne said his approval of the Rogers-Shaw merger would establish Freedom Mobile as a strong fourth national carrier, which would also encourage competition and lower prices in the marketplace.
Goldberg expects Freedom, along with Rogers, Bell Canada and Telus Corp. to meet that expectation by offering further incentives to customers.
Freedom said it has also introduced enhancements to its services that go beyond Quebecor’s commitments at the time of the transaction, such as a price freeze guarantee, which applies to all current and future customers for as long as they keep their plans.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023.
Companies in this story: (TSX:QBR.B, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:BCE, TSX:T)
Cost of living: Pepsi and Coca-Cola absent in meeting with federal industry minister
Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. Canada’s industry minister made a point of calling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for not sending representatives to a meeting he convened on Monday with manufacturing companies to discuss stabilizing grocery prices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s industry minister made a point of calling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for not sending representatives to a meeting he convened on Monday with manufacturing companies to discuss stabilizing grocery prices.
François-Philippe Champagne singled out the two companies when asked by a journalist what the consequences would be if major industry players did not succeed in stopping high inflation.
“This morning, (their CEOs) did not attend the meeting,” Champagne said of beverage giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
“I intend to call on them and I will continue to do so. … I don’t stop,” he told reporters.
The Canadian leaders of seven international manufacturing companies, including Nestlé and Kraft Heinz, met with Champagne.
He summoned them to answer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call earlier this month for Canadian grocers to come up with a plan to stabilize prices by Thanksgiving.
If major grocers fail to deliver ideas, Champagne said, “the consequence is for all 40 million Canadians because we will be able to see who is taking action and who is not.”
A government source told The Canadian Press that the CEOs of Pepsi and Coca-Cola responded to the federal government summons by stating they were not available Monday. The source was granted anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the matter.
It’s unclear, however, whether another meeting between major food companies and the government will take place.
Monday’s meeting brought together top Canadian executives from McCain, Unilever, Nestlé, Lactalis, Lassonde, Kraft Heinz, and Smucker Foods.
All avoided speaking with journalists. The CEO of the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada association, Michael Graydon, attended the meeting and agreed to answer questions on their behalf.
Graydon called the meeting “very productive.”
”We’re very much about co-operation and support, collaboration,” he said. “It’s an industry that needs to align and work collectively to find a solution.”
He said manufacturers want to collaborate with other players in the supply chain, such as major retailers like Loblaw and Costco, whose leaders Champagne met with one week earlier.
In a statement, Pepsi said it is open to meeting with Champagne.
“We are pleased that our industry association, FHCP, led a productive conversation with the government and representatives from industry today,” it said.
“We were not able to attend today’s meeting, but we offered to meet with the minister. We are committed to collaborating with the government to identify solutions during this challenging time for Canadians.”
Trudeau has said that if the government isn’t satisfied with what major grocers come up with to stabilize prices, he would intervene, including with tax measures.
Graydon said it remains to be seen how detailed the plans will be by the government’s Thanksgiving deadline.
”We’ll have to see whether, you know, the detail of how much completeness can be done by that time. But I think everybody’s working very hard to achieve that,” Graydon said.
Champagne said he is happy Graydon “wants to do something,” because “it’s a gain for Canadians.”
“It’s clear that what’s important is that we have timelines, work plans, and obviously concrete actions,” the minister said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.
Moneris confirms credit and debit card processing outage, but offers few details
The Canadian payment processing firm Moneris confirmed Saturday that credit and debit card transactions were interrupted by a network outage earlier in the day.
The Toronto-based technology company issued a statement saying there was nothing to suggest the outage was related to a cyber attack.
Complaints about outages started rolling in to the Downdetector.ca website before noon eastern time, but Moneris did not say when the outage started.
About three hours later, Moneris posted a message on X — the social media site formerly known as Twitter — saying it had resolved the network problem.
It remains unclear how many businesses and transactions were affected, but data provided by Downdetector.ca indicated complaints had come in from across the country.
In a statement provided to The Canadian Press, the company said the outage lasted about 90 minutes.
“We have resolved the network outage and returned transaction processing to normal,” the statement said. “We continue to investigate the root cause of the issue. There are no indications this appears to be cyber-attack related and all transaction systems are functioning normally again.”
The company, a joint venture between Royal Bank and BMO Bank of Montreal, said transaction processing could be slow as its systems catch up with the backlog.
Moneris says it supports more than 325,000 merchant locations across Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2024.
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