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Travelling soon? Get ready to pay higher cellphone roaming rates

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Two of Canada’s biggest telecom providers are raising the fees they charge customers when they use their devices outside of Canada.

Starting March 8, Telus will charge customers $14 a day when they roam on their devices in the United States, and $16 a day when they do so internationally. That’s an increase from $12 and $15, respectively. Customers of the Telus-owned discount brand Koodo will see a similar fee hike.

Rival Bell is making a similar move starting the following day, raising its U.S. roaming rate from $12 to $13, and going from $15 to $16 internationally. Those  increases will also be in effect at Bell-owned subsidiaries including Virgin Mobile.

There’s no indication that Rogers has similar plans to raise roaming rates, but as it stands, customers at Rogers and its flanker brands including Chatr and Fido pay $12 to roam in the U.S. and $15 internationally.

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CBC News reached out for comment to all three companies for this story, asking for an explanation for the move.

A spokesperson for Telus said the company needed more time to respond.

Bell cited Statistics Canada data showing that overall wireless prices have declined in the past year, despite “price increases from our suppliers” and “increasing costs to our business,” without elaborating.

Rogers outlined the company’s roaming rates, but declined comment as to whether they had increased recently or were about to.

High prices

Canadians pay some of the highest telecom bills in the world, according to numerous international reports. Multiple federal governments have pressured providers to bring prices down, especially for basic plans with limited data, and while official data shows wireless prices have come down by some metrics, that’s not the case for high-end packages.

A recent report by CBC’s consumer affairs program Marketplace found that, on average, Canadians pay seven times more for a gigabyte of data than people in Australia, 25 times more than people in Ireland and France, and 1,000 times more than people in Finland.

A woman in the background and a man in the foreground are shown using their cellphones while walking outside.
Commuters use their mobile phones near St. Pancras International railway station in London in February 2019. Europeans are protected from high roaming rates, but that’s not the case for Canadians. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Wall Communications Inc. publishes an annual report on Canadian telecom services and, while this year’s version has not yet been released, on the whole company founder Gerry Wall says the public perception that wireless prices keep going up is unfair, as providers have created many more low-cost plans targeting basic users.

“At the very, very low level — I think you can say it’s relatively affordable in Canada,” he said. “It’s when you get up into sort of the mid-level and the higher-level plans that Canada doesn’t look as good.”

A service such as roaming is one of those high-level perks, and prices are going up because consumers have shown that they want that service, Wall says.

“When I look at [those companies’] annual reports … they do point to the fact that that people are traveling a lot more,” he said.

“If you look back three or four years, all the Big Three were charging considerably lower per-day roaming fees for Canada and U.S. … I expect it goes up every year and it will continue as traveling continues.”

Wireless mobile plan costs around the world

Cellphone users in Ireland, France and Australia react to cost-per-gigabyte price differences in Canada.

Last summer, the European Union passed a law which will ensure that cellphone customers in the EU are entitled to the same quality and price for wireless service when they travel in Europe as they get from their domestic carriers.

But Canadian wireless users have no such legal protection.

Canada’s telecom providers spend billions of dollars every year to grow, maintain and improve their networks, expenditures that have made the country’s wireless networks, on the whole, more robust than those in other countries. Cellular users bear the brunt of those costs and improvements in higher bills, but none of those costly infrastructure expenses — on things like cellphone towers and new spectrum — are a factor for roaming internationally, when calls piggyback on existing networks for a small fee.

Keldon Bester, an analyst on competition policy and co-founder of the Canadian Anti-Monopoly Project, says it’s hard to know if the carriers are facing some sort of cost increase that would justify the rise in roaming rates, since the deals that they sign with their international partners are a closely guarded secret.

“[They can say] ‘Our partners are are demanding this of us and and we’re trying our best but we can’t really do anything,'” said Bester, “but because we don’t have access to these roaming agreements we really can’t test the validity of that.”

He says it’s not hard to imagine that the major telecom providers may see roaming costs as a way to boost revenue without as much of the scrutiny they face for their domestic plans.

“It’s a situation where consumers have even fewer options than they might domestically,” he said. “It’s like buying food at a sports arena — they’ve got you … your options are really limited, so there’s an opportunity to squeeze more out of the consumer.”

Janine Rogan has felt that squeeze first hand.

On a recent trip to Mexico, she was hit by a roaming charge of more than $100 from her telecom provider, Telus. “From a consumer perspective kind of feels like price gouging,” she said. “They’re just trying to make every possible dollar they can off of us.”

She has plans to travel to Europe this summer, and given her recent experience, she says there’s no way she will use her phone normally while she’s there, and will instead get a short-term phone plan from a local provider for a fraction of the cost.

“It’s always amazed me how cheap it is to get a SIM card over there and just pop it in while you’re traveling,” she says. “To see that they’re not allowing roaming charges while Canada’s increasing them just makes the average person’s phone bill go up [by] an exorbitant amount that really isn’t necessary.”

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How To Choose The Perfect Type Of Fundraiser For Your Cause

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Fundraiser

Raising funds for a cause is an important and rewarding task, though it can be a daunting one as well. With so many different types of fundraisers to consider, it can feel overwhelming to decide which will work best for your organization or cause. It’s essential to understand the impact that each type of fundraiser should have on your mission statement and financial goals to make an informed decision. Whether you are selecting more common fundraising activities such as carwashes and bake sales, or opting for virtual fundraisers like crowdfunding campaigns or silent auctions, our guide covers the basics of choosing the perfect type of fundraiser with tips from fellow fundraisers to maximize success. Keep reading if you want advice on deciding upon —and then executing—the most effective way to raise money for your organization!

Understand Your Resources and Goals

Before committing to a fundraiser, it’s essential to assess your organization’s goals and resources. Understanding and leveraging your available resources and matching them to your fundraising goals is key. Successful fundraising requires planning– look at what type of money you need to raise, and ask if some volunteers or sponsors might provide their time or services. It’s important to be realistic about the time, money, and effort needed for each fundraiser. Doing a little research about each event ahead of time can help lay out expectations and make your final decision easier. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to fundraising, so it’s important to choose a style that works with your situation. And the first step is understanding what your resources and goals are.

Analyze the Target Audience for Your Fundraiser

Taking the time to analyze the target audience for your fundraiser is a vital step when planning your event. It’s important to consider the age group and interests of the people who will be attending, as well as any demographic factors that might be relevant. For example, if your cause is particularly local-based, it helps to know the population of the community to have an accurate sense of who your attendees will be. Having this information allows you to craft an event that’s geared specifically towards that audience, catering to their individual needs and interests. Doing so increases the likelihood of engagement and fundraising success. Furthermore, understanding who your target audience is can help with other decisions for your event, such as what types of food or activities would best suit them. All in all, knowledge about who will be attending gives you the ability to create a truly memorable fundraiser experience.

Research Different Fundraising Ideas

If you’re looking to raise money for your cause, there’s no shortage of possibilities. Before you decide on a fundraising method, it is important to do your research and consider all the options. Take some time to review popular options and explore which fundraising type is most applicable to what impact you’re hoping to have. You can use read a thon to raise money to support schools, extra-curricular programs, or new equipment; organize a virtual run to contribute towards medical research or a fund for people in need. It is important to understand the selling points, potential pitfalls, and details involved with running each kind of fundraiser before selecting one—without this additional information, you might select a type of fundraiser that won’t suit your needs. Doing your research will ensure that when it comes time to choose a fundraiser type, you’ll be making an informed decision that fits with your organization’s abilities and goals.

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Consider Both Online and Offline Fundraisers

When it comes to picking the right type of fundraiser for your cause, there are a lot of factors to consider. What will be easy to set up and organize, which demographics you’re hoping to reach, how to get adequate participation — the list goes on. Yet one important element not all organizers consider is how taking advantage of the internet can drive huge results while minimizing additional costs. Combining online and offline fundraisers presents a unique opportunity to gain traction from many different sources and keep your volunteers engaged — all with only minimal extra effort or time investment. Whether launching an electronic donation page, tracking sales data through social media platforms, or leveraging crowdfunding networks — getting measurable public engagement has never been easier or more powerful than today. So as you plan your fundraiser projects, don’t shy away from the event-boosting power of technology when trying to hit that final goal.

Consider the Cost of Your Fundraiser

While you may be primarily focused on raising the funds needed to support your cause, it is important to also pay close attention to the cost associated with your fundraiser. Not only should you consider the cost of purchasing supplies or materials for the event itself, but also look out for other costs that could arise such as renting a space and advertising fees. Doing thorough research ahead of time will ensure you select an appropriate fundraiser for your cause – one that fits within your budget. You may also want to consider utilizing a pro bono volunteer base or getting sponsorships from local businesses to help keep costs low. With the right combination of research and resourcefulness, you can find an effective way to raise money for your cause without breaking the bank.

Check out Other Fundraisers

Many fundraisers flop because organizers didn’t take the time to look at what other organizations have tried and succeeded with. Researching the successes and failures of other groups that have held similar fundraising activities can be a great starting point in determining which methods are likely to work for your cause. Internet searches, networking with other organizations, and reaching out to traditional media outlets are all great strategies to learn more about which strategies yield success for other charities. Taking the array of available activities into consideration and understanding the pros and cons of different methods will help you make the best decision for your cause.

Talk to Colleagues

One of the best ways to decide which type of fundraiser is the perfect fit for your cause is to collaborate with colleagues who have experience in the field. Talking to other fundraisers and asking for advice on how to reach your fundraising goals can be an excellent source of ideas, as well as invaluable insights that will help you make the right decision. Make sure to reach out beyond your group and networks so that you can gauge opinions from individuals with a wide array of different perspectives and experiences. With this broad base of information, you can make an educated, informed decision that will lead to a successful fundraiser and successful campaign!

When it comes to selecting the right fundraiser for your cause, there are several strategies and resources available that can help you make the best decision. From researching other successful fundraisers and their cost-effectiveness to leveraging technology to boost public engagement, there is no shortage of methods that can be used to maximize the results of your efforts. Taking the time to talk to colleagues and consider the cost of your fundraiser will ensure that you choose the perfect event for your cause. With a bit of preparation and resourcefulness, you can create an effective fundraising campaign that will have a significant impact on your organization!

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Pierre Poilievre is neither for nor against the Liberals' industrial strategy. Quite the opposite – The Globe and Mail

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Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre reads from last year’s budget as he rises during Question Period on March 29 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

You would think that a politician as hard-hitting as Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre would have something clear to say about the big initiatives that the federal government outlined in its budget.

But somehow the Leader of the Opposition can’t tell us whether he opposes the biggest thing in the Liberal budget.

He can’t say whether he is in favour of a massive, government-subsidized industrial strategy.

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We’re not talking here about some baroque measure no one saw coming. We are talking about the largest feature in the government’s new fiscal blueprint.

In Tuesday’s budget, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined an enormous set of industrial subsidies for green technology that reduces emissions that will total $80-billion over the next decade.

This is an expenditure for industrial subsidies on a scale never before attempted in Canada. And we knew it was coming: The Liberal government signalled it was planning to respond to the huge subsidies in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. Ms. Freeland budgeted more new money for those subsidies over the next decade than for health care.

Most of that money is supposed to be spent five to 10 years from now, when there could well be another party in power, possibly under Mr. Poilievre. Companies making investment decisions this year will want to know if a potential prime minister is dead set against the whole idea. Canadians should want to know too.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Poilievre was neither for nor against. Quite the opposite.

Asked whether he is in favour of the hefty investment tax credits for things such as carbon capture and hydrogen, Mr. Poilievre said his Conservatives have been in favour of carbon capture for a long time.

So that’s a yes? Well, no, not exactly.

He said his Conservatives would “study what’s in the budget and we’re going to come up with our own election platform.” Apparently it will be a year or two before we know if Mr. Poilievre thinks that a massive program launched in the 2023 budget is a good step or a colossal waste of money.

Mr. Poilievre responded to those questions by talking about the long delays for approving projects like mines – which is a legitimate point but not an answer to the question of subsidies.

And then for a moment, he made it sound like he thinks the subsidies are an outrage. “I have no doubt that Justin Trudeau will stuff the pockets of foreign multinationals,” he said. That’s pretty biting, except for the fact that we’re not sure whether Mr. Poilievre is in favour of all that pocket-stuffing.

Certainly, no one should expect that the Conservatives would release all their policies in the platform now.

And of course there’s plenty of waffling in politics. On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau dodged questions of whether his government will ever balance the budget, to avoid admitting it never will. Mr. Poilievre refused to say whether the Conservative government would cancel a proposed dental plan.

But in this case the government of the day is launching a major subsidy program that will cost billions of dollars a year and is supposed to be the cornerstone of a decade-long industrial strategy, and key to climate-change policy, too.

The Official Opposition can’t take a pass on that for two years and claim that its mission is holding the government to account.

It can endorse the idea, but quibble over the details. Or it can oppose the very notion of pouring megabucks into subsidies.

It is evidently an uncomfortable issue for Mr. Poilievre. He has spent a lot of his time in politics railing against corporate handouts. He couldn’t help using that language on Wednesday.

But those subsidies also include a lot of money for carbon capture and storage in the oil patch that Alberta’s United Conservative Premier Danielle Smith wants. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford will be keen on the incentives for electricity and battery plants.

Yet there’s no way around it. This is the time when the issue is being decided, if only because the Liberals have tabled the budget with hulking piles of cash devoted to it. That will set Canada’s industrial policy on a course that is supposed to endure for a decade. An opposition leader should be able to tell us if he’s against it.

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As Canadians miss out on benefits, Ottawa promises automatic tax filing is on the way – BNN Bloomberg

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The Canada Revenue Agency will pilot a new automatic system next year to help vulnerable Canadians who don’t file their taxes get their benefits.

This week’s federal budget says the Canada Revenue Agency will also present a plan in 2024 to expand the service, following consultations with stakeholders and community organizations. 

The move toward automatic tax filing, first promised in the 2020 speech from the throne, is one of several budget measures the Liberals say are meant to help Canadians with the cost of living.

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Experts and advocates have called for automatic filing, noting many vulnerable Canadians miss out on benefits to which they are entitled.

Canadians are generally not required to file tax returns every year unless they owe money, but the federal government is increasingly relying on the Canada Revenue Agency to deliver income-tested benefits to individuals.

That includes Canada Child Benefit, as well as the recent top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and the temporary doubling of the GST tax credit.

A 2020 report co-authored by Jennifer Robson, an associate professor in political management at Carleton University, estimates 10 to 12 per cent of Canadians don’t file their taxes.

Although there were non-filers across all income groups, they were most heavily concentrated in lower income brackets.

The report estimated the value of benefits lost to working-age non-filers was $1.7 billion in 2015.

The federal budget also said the Canada Revenue Agency will expand access to a service set up in 2018 that allows some Canadians with lower or fixed incomes to auto-file simple returns over the telephone.

The budget says that two million Canadians will be eligible for that service, called “File My Return,” by 2025, which is nearly three times the number of people who can use it now.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.

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