The CRTC largely played a hands-off role during the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to allow Canadian telecoms to “do what needed to be done,” chairman Ian Scott said in an interview.
Scott said that when he initially reached out to telecoms at the beginning of the pandemic, he was told all the companies required was to be left to do the necessary work without interference.
“That was quite reasonable. They said ‘we’re busy.’ I asked them what they needed and they said to be left alone. And they were right,” Scott said.
Scott noted the CRTC worked with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Public Safety on the file. He said the three agreed that “we all want certain things from the carriers. We need to do this in a coordinated way that doesn’t put a burden on the carriers, because they’ve got some important work to do” in keeping the networks functioning as Canada suddenly shifted to working online, and ensuring services like emergency alerts were still working.
“What we tried to do, and we did with ISED and others, is to try and focus on what was important. We had expert committees looking at technical issues,” Scott said, which included reaching out to Quebec officials to ensure workers had clearance to move inside the province, which had restricted movement between regions early on in the pandemic.
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