Child care costs dropping across Canada, but prices still high in some provinces: study – National

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Daycare fees have dropped — or barely inched up — in some Canadian cities in what might be early signs of the influence of federal child-care money, a new survey says.

The fifth annual survey of child care fees from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives being released Thursday says that fees for full-time, regulated child-care spaces have risen faster than inflation in 61 per cent of cities reviewed.

READ MORE: Children who go to daycare are better behaved, more advanced, study says

The left-leaning think tank found that costs were the highest in Toronto and the surrounding area, where fees for children under 18 months average $1,685, and $1,150 a month for older preschoolers.

Cities in Quebec had the lowest fees for full-time, regulated spaces across the country, followed by Winnipeg and Charlottetown – in the three provinces that have fixed fees for years.

The federal treasury is set to spend $7.5 billion over a decade to help fund child-care spaces across the country, with the money flowing through one-on-one agreements with provinces.

WATCH: A look at child care costs across Canada in 2016






The first three years of spending will be $1.3 billion and potentially create or maintain 40,000 subsidized spaces, a target the Liberals say is on its way to being achieved. Once the three years are up – after this year’s federal election – new funding deals will have to be signed.

David Macdonald, a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said he expected that government policy aimed at lowering fees will lead to an overall decrease in prices for the first time in five years.

“For the survey that we’ve been doing, it’s just been fees going up every year, year after year, far more than the rate of inflation and we’re seeing fees actually start to go in reverse in a couple of the provinces,” Macdonald said.

He says the initial federal spending appears to have helped provinces moving to regulate the prices parents pay for child care.


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How much child care cash do you qualify for? New website, application process goes live

The federal Liberals didn’t expect provinces to set lower fees when it signed funding agreements with all of them last year, but did envision that provincial governments – which are responsible for child care – would find ways to make daycare more affordable for those who need it.

A set-fee regime in St. John’s, N.L., led to a 13-per-cent decline in the fees parents pay, the report says, even though the costs still remain similar to those found in Ottawa, where the rates are set by the market. Reductions were also noted in Edmonton where the provincial NDP has rolled out government-supported $25-a-day daycare.

“There’s a measurable effect,” Macdonald said of federal funding.

“While federal money is certainly flowing out, it in all cases supported pre-existing provincial efforts. So it’s not that the federal money initiated those efforts – the provinces initiated those efforts usually several years prior to the federal bilateral agreements being signed.”

WATCH: More than 40% of kids live in ‘child-care deserts,’ study says






Other provinces are using federal funding towards other efforts, such increasing subsidies for low-income families, Macdonald said, although the impacts won’t be captured in the centre’s survey of what providers charge.

Groups interested in seeing the Liberals boost their child-care pending have come away from talks with the view that the government won’t unveil any new measures in the 2019 budget.

Other groups argue that providing more money to families and letting them make their own child-care decisions is better federal policy.


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How did Trudeau’s taxes and benefits affect you? Find out with our calculator

Cardus, a non-partisan, faith-based think-tank, released a report last month arguing that federal spending should be used to expand the income-tested child benefit, allow parents on leave to earn more income before their employment-insurance benefits are clawed back, and allow for a market-based, independent child-care system.

“We are witnessing unnecessary discrimination against market-based, home-based, or other private/independent child care,” the paper argues. “These forms of care are some of the most popular for parents as they often mimic the home environment more closely.”

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Toronto area home prices predicted to rise 4 per cent this year

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The average Toronto area re-sale home price rose 1.7 per cent year over year in January to $748,328, including single-family homes and condos, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), which is forecasting a 4 per cent annual price increase for 2019.

That means homes that sold for $787,195 on average in 2018, would increase to $820,000 across all housing categories. But condos are expected to continue driving price growth this year, with detached houses anticipated to lag again.

For sale signs at a home in East York, Toronto.
For sale signs at a home in East York, Toronto.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

“Although we won’t experience record levels, we do expect to see a better year in 2019 for sales and selling prices,” said TREB president Garry Bhaura in a news release issued prior to the publication of the board’s 2019 market outlook report on Wednesday.

TREB joined the growing chorus in the housing industry calling for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) to reconsider the mortgage stress test it introduced last year. The test, which is designed to protect consumers from drowning if their housing or other costs increase, means home buyers have to qualify for mortgages 2 per cent higher than they negotiate with their banks or the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate.

In a speech in Toronto on Tuesday OSFI assistant superintendent Carolyn Rogers acknowledged that housing affordability is a problem. But she said the answer isn’t to allow consumers to pile on more debt.

The stress test, along with higher interest rates, has been blamed for the volatility of the 2018 housing market following frenzied activity in 2016 and the first four months of 2017.

Home sales rose slightly year over year in January. The 4,009 transactions in the first month of 2019 was only .6 per cent higher than the same level last year, but was up 3.4 per cent from December, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures.

The average price of a detached house in the region was $941,488 last month, a 2.8 per cent year over year decline. Condos averaged $548,176, up 7.9 per cent compared to January 2018.

Apartments and higher-density ground-level homes such as town houses are seeing better price gains simply because they are more affordable said TREB director of market analysis Jason Mercer.

“Market conditions in January, as represented by the relationship between sales and listings, continued to support moderate year-over-year price increases, regardless of the price measure considered,” he said.

Last year’s listings on TREB’s Multiple Listings Service (MLS) returned to post-2009 levels of about 155,000, after a spike in 2017.

An Ipsos consumer home buying survey for the real estate board being released Wednesday will show a dip in home owners expecting to list their properties next year but a slight increase in those looking to buy, said TREB’s press release.

TREB anticipates a continuation of the region’s tight rental market with rents expect to grow in the high single-digits or low double-digits for one- and two-bedroom condos leased on the MLS.

“Almost two-thirds of investor-owners are thinking about selling one or more of their units over the next year,” according to the Ipsos survey. TREB says that is likely a result of rent controls.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski

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Home sales decline in Saskatoon during 2018 as prices continue to slide – Saskatoon

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Five per cent fewer homes were sold in Saskatoon in 2018 compared to 2017 as prices continue to decline.

The Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors (SRAR) said there were 3,329 total sales for the year.


READ MORE:
Mortgage stress test stressing out Sask. homebuilders

It was the fourth straight year sales declined, SRAR said, and down almost 25 per cent from 2014 when 4,417 homes were sold.

Sales for the month of December were off 20 per cent from December 2017, with 164 transactions.

Prices continue to trend downward, with the home price index (HPI) for a single-family home at $307,000 at the end of December, off from $310,900 in November, but virtually unchanged from the beginning of the year, SRAR said.

The benchmark for a single-family home peaked in May 2015 at $329,500.


READ MORE:
CMHC expects recovery in housing starts, slow price growth in Saskatoon for 2019

The HPI for townhouses was $215,800 at the end of 2018, down from $233,900 a year ago, while the benchmark for apartment-style condos was $178,900, off $11,700 from December 2017.

SRAR said the total number of homes listed for the year totaled 7,956, down 11 per cent from 2017. The five-year average for listings is 9,081.

The total number of active listings at the end of December was 1,487, which SRAR said was consistent with the five-year average of 1,480.

WATCH BELOW: Breaking down Saskatoon’s real estate numbers






© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Critics accuse PCs of making ‘misleading’ claims about lower gas prices in Ontario

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Drivers in Ontario have been enjoying relatively low gasoline prices this holiday season and, according to a number of Progressive Conservative MPPs, they have the provincial government to thank for it. 

Over the past week, some big names in the PC caucus, including Premier Doug Ford, have taken to social media to tell Ontarians that the cancellation of a « carbon tax » is fuelling a drop in prices at the pump. 

« Taking the carbon tax off gas prices has helped lower the cost of driving your car across the province! » Ford tweeted in response to one of his MPs, Natalia Kusendova‏, who had just posted her own tweet documenting the price board at a Mississauga gas station. 

Other PC MPPs, including Vic Fedeli, the province’s finance minister, and Christine Elliott, minister of health and long-term care, quickly followed suit with posts of their own. Some garnered considerable criticism from Twitter users, many of whom pointed out that the price of gasoline has dropped throughout Canada

An environmental advocate says the messaging campaign amounts to « intentionally misleading » the public by claiming credit for a decrease in the cost of gasoline in Ontario. 

Keith Brooks, programs director at Environmental Defence, a non-profit based in Toronto, says low prices are primarily due to external, global factors — not provincial government policy.

« The idea that getting rid of cap-and-trade is responsible for this big decrease in gas prices is just not true at all, » Brooks said on Sunday, noting that the provincial government did indeed repeal Ontario’s cap-and-trade system.

« I don’t think that the government has a great matter of control over gas prices, quite frankly. It’s market forces at play here, » said Keith Brooks. (CBC)

It has also vowed to challenge the federal government’s impending carbon tax, but the province’s cancelled cap-and-trade program and Ottawa’s carbon tax are two different things. 

« What’s happened here in Ontario with gas prices is no different than what’s happened across the rest of country. Cap-and-trade is a very small factor, » Brooks said. 

‘Market forces at play’

The PC government is « confusing » the situation by equating its cap-and-trade climate change program with a carbon tax, he added. 

Cap-and-trade is a form of carbon pricing that Ontario eliminated in October. It aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by capping the amount of pollution companies in certain industries could emit. If companies exceeded those limits, they had to pay for it. 

« From the get go, this new government has conflated the cap-and-trade system with a carbon tax. They know ‘tax’ is a word that sets people off, » Brooks said.

Michael Ervin, senior vice-president of Kent Group Ltd., a consulting firm that provides data and analysis on the downstream petroleum sector, said in an interview from Victoria that low gasoline prices are largely a result of wholesale gasoline prices. 

Michael Ervin, senior vice-president of Kent Group Ltd., said gas prices have been dropping across North America in recent weeks. (CBC)

« It is very correct to say that the reduction in gasoline prices in Ontario are partly a result of the Ontario government getting out of the cap-and-trade system, » he said.

But that move accounts for a drop of only about five cents per litre, he added.

According to GasBuddy.com, an online aggregator of gas prices, a drop in oil prices caused a 22-cent-a-litre drop in overall gasoline prices in recent months.

« Most of the reduction has nothing to do with getting out of cap-and-trade and much more to do with the fact that wholesale gasoline prices are declining right across North America right now, » Ervin said.

« Fundamentally, gasoline prices go up and down as a result of changes in wholesale gasoline prices. The retail market follows wholesale prices quite closely. The wholesale price, being just driven by supply and demand, is really what causes the volatility in prices. »

In an interview earlier in December with the Canadian Press, Ervin said there’s a glut of gasoline on the North American market brought on by lower than expected demand and refineries being forced to produce excess gasoline in order to manufacture diesel — a gasoline byproduct that is in high demand.

In an email statement sent on Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Ford’s office said the provincial government is following through on its promise « to make life more affordable » in Ontario.

« Under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford, our government moved quickly to eliminate the ineffective cap-and-trade program, » Laryssa Waler said. 

« Since then, refiners have removed the additional 4.6 cents per litre, cap-and-trade fee they had perviously been passing onto consumers. Recognizing that gas prices fluctuate based on a variety of reasons, drivers in Ontario are now saving an additional 4.6 cents a litre that they wouldn’t otherwise be saving. »

Meanwhile, many twitters users continued to respond to tweets from MPPs throughout the weekend. Elliott’s post seemed to draw particular ire, with some 800 people voicing an opinion on her message. Some suggested that she was not presenting factual information. 

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Experts predict low gas prices in Alberta to be short-lived

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With the holiday season coming to an end, Albertans looking to save some money in the New Year might be out of luck when filling their gas tanks. Experts are predicting the price of fuel to jump once again in 2019.


READ MORE:
Gasoline prices in most of Canada set to rise this weekend: energy analyst

An analyst with GasBuddy.com explains drivers will have to prepare for what could be a volatile year when it comes to the price of oil in 2019.

“It’s more likely than not that you could be back to a $1.30 range here in Alberta perhaps as close as April, May and June,” said Dan McTeague, analyst with GasBuddy.com

Fuel prices in Alberta have dropped around 12 to 15 cents over the last year, which McTeague attributes to several different factors including low oil prices across the globe and a possible U.S.-China trade war.

McTeague said concerns surrounding oil-producing countries not living up to promises on production cuts could have also contributed to the current drop in fuel prices.

According to Gas Buddy, the average price in and around Calgary is just over 90 cents a litre, with lower rates in the capital region where Edmonton drivers can expect to pay around 89 cents.

However, the southwest city of Lethbridge is seeing no such luck, even with recent drops in price, residents can still expect to fork out more than a dollar per litre entering 2019.

“Retailers [in Lethbridge] don’t have any problems charging 15 or 16 cent retail margins,” said McTeague, who added part of the reason prices remain higher in Lethbridge is also due to a lack of competition.


READ MORE:
Calgary energy expert explains impact of refinery capacity on gas price

McTeague said big box stores such as Costco may also help drive the direction of fuel prices within the city by changing their costs at a moment’s notice.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Gasoline prices in most of Canada set to experience ‘extreme volatility’

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Plunging world oil prices have delivered a Christmas miracle of lower gasoline prices across most of Canada but a fuel price expert says motorists should fill up now because prices are expected to be volatile in 2019.

Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, says gasoline prices are at near-18-month lows because of global oil prices that have tumbled over the past two months on worries of an economic downturn, a U.S.-China trading tiff and concerns that members of the OPEC oil cartel won’t live up to production cuts.

Another analyst, Michael Ervin with Kent Group Ltd., offers another explanation for the reduced prices.

He says there’s a glut of gasoline on the North American market brought on by lower than expected demand and refineries being forced to produce excess gasoline in order to manufacture diesel — a gasoline byproduct that is in high demand.

« It’s not specific to the Alberta economy, its not specific to the Canadian economy, it really is a reflection of how much gasoline there is in a North American context right now, » said Erwin.

Despite a brief oil price rally on Wednesday, average regular gasoline prices remain about:

  • 17 cents lower per litre than a year ago in Alberta and Ontario.
  • 12 cents lower in Manitoba.
  • Six cents lower in Quebec.
  • 11 cents lower in Nova Scotia.
  • Three cents lower in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • And in Prince Edward Island, seven cents lower.

McTeague says prices in B.C. are up two to six cents per litre compared with the same time last year but would be lower if not for the effect of interruptions in fuel imports from Washington due to the outage of that state’s Olympic Pipeline in mid-December.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil prices plunged to $42.53 US on Christmas Eve, down 44 per cent from $76.41 US per barrel on Oct. 3. They rallied to $46.22 US on Wednesday but trended lower Thursday.

McTeague says « extreme volatility » in oil markets are expected to continue to wreak havoc on gasoline prices in Canada in the early part of 2019.

Erwin, meanwhile, thinks prices will remain low until demand picks up in the spring. 

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Canada Post says stamp prices to go up mid-January – National

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OTTAWA – Unless you really hurry, sending a letter to Santa for next Christmas will cost you a nickel more.

Starting Jan. 14, Canada Post says the cost for an individual stamp on a letter sent within Canada will be $1.05, instead of a loonie. Other increases for mail within the country range between a dime and 35 cents depending on the size of the letter.

The cost of sending letters to the United States will go up between seven and 20 cents, while overseas mail will need an extra 15 to 20 cents to get there.

READ MORE: Canada Post says delivery service almost back to normal, 3 weeks after strike ended

The new rates are the first increase since March 2014.

Canada Post says the increases should generate $26 million in revenues for the postal service, of which $11 million will come from consumers and the remaining $15 million from small and medium-sized businesses.

WATCH: Trudeau defends Canada Post back-to-work legislation amid questions from NDP







Regulatory text posted online Monday estimates that the new rates will cost the average Canadian household about 65 cents next year.

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Canada Post stamp prices to increase on Jan. 14

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Canada Post says the cost for an individual stamp on a letter sent within Canada will jump to $1.05, instead of a loonie, starting Jan. 14.

Other increases for mail within the country range between a dime and 35 cents depending on the size of the letter.

The cost of sending letters to the United States will go up between seven and 20 cents, while overseas mail will need an extra 15 to 20 cents to get there.

The new rates are the first increase since March 2014.

Canada Post said the increases should generate $26 million a year in revenue for the postal service, of which $11 million will come from consumers and the remaining $15 million from small and medium-sized businesses.

Regulatory text posted online Monday estimates that the new rates will cost the average Canadian household about 65 cents next year.

The average cost for small businesses that use stamps to pay postage will be about $14.21.

Struggling revenue

Canada Post has long pointed to declines in letter mail as more Canadians opt to send emails instead of a written note. The regulatory text says that letter mail volume has almost been cut in half since 2006 — about two billion letters — and along with it revenue for the Crown corporation.

Federal rules require Canada Post to set postage rates that are fair, reasonable and enough to help defray the costs of operation.

« Given the current rate at which letter mail volumes are declining and the other financial pressures faced by Canada Post, it may no longer generate sufficient revenue to meet its service obligations in the future without regular changes in its rate structure, » says a posting in the Canada Gazette, a government publication detailing new federal rules and regulations.

Canada Post employee Shelly Paul delivers the mail in snowy Water Valley, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

In late November, Canada Post said it expects to finish its fiscal year with a loss.

The postal service was ordered in September to increase pay for suburban and rural postal employees by 25 per cent, which the agency said would cost $550 million by the end of the year, including a charge of $130 million that was put on its books in the final quarter of 2017.

Postal workers went on rotating strikes in late October, but about a month later the Liberals legislated an end to job action after Canada Post complained that a backlog of parcels had reached historic levels ahead of the crucial holiday shopping period.

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LNG Canada partner Petronas cuts natural gas output due to plunging prices

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Natural gas prices in Western Canada are so low that a partner in the country’s first LNG export project is shutting off money-losing wells and throttling back its exploration program.

Malaysian-owned Petronas, which has a 25 per cent interest in the $40-billion LNG Canada project, has been curtailing production by between 50 and 200 million cubic feet per day from wells in northeastern B.C. capable of producing 700 million cf/d, the CEO of its Canadian branch says.

READ MORE: Premier John Horgan optimistic major LNG facility is coming to B.C. after Petronas investment

The practice is one being adopted by a growing number of western Canadian producers to avoid selling their natural gas at prices that often don’t even cover the cost of pipeline transportation.

“We talk a lot about oil infrastructure,” Petronas Energy Canada Ltd. CEO Mark Fitzgerald said, referring to oil price discounts in Western Canada blamed on full crude pipelines.

“Gas is trapped as well and if you compare the prices that Canadian gas producers are receiving against our U.S. peers, the differentials are significant and costing us a significant amount of money.”

The company invested heavily in natural gas exploration in northeastern B.C. from 2012 to 2016, employing more than 25 drilling rigs at peak times to prove the resource potential as part of its longer-term plan to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal.

It is running only one rig now, Fitzgerald said.

READ MORE: Approving LNG Canada project could tap into glut of Alberta natural gas

Petronas backed out of its $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project in 2017, but joined the LNG Canada partnership led by Royal Dutch Shell last May.

The partners agreed to go ahead with their project this fall, but it isn’t expected to be ready to begin supercooling natural gas and shipping it out until late 2023 or early 2024.

Ian Archer, an associate director with IHS Markit, said Western Canada’s gas industry was stable from 2000 to 2008, with production of about 16 billion cf/d and prices of around $10 per gigajoule, but that changed when new drilling and well completion technologies emerged that allowed the U.S. to dramatically grow shale gas production.

Cheaper U.S. gas began displacing western Canadian gas in markets like California, Eastern Canada and New York, and the price in Western Canada dropped by half, with production falling to around 13 billion cf/d by 2012, he said.

The trend worsened when the new drilling technologies began to be used in northeastern B.C. and northwestern Alberta to produce light oil products like condensate, which is in demand as a diluent to mix with raw bitumen from the oilsands to allow it to flow in a pipeline.

READ MORE: LNG Canada announces final investment decision to build export facility in Kitimat

Condensate wells also typically contain high levels of natural gas and the boost in gas production back to over 16 billion cf/d has overwhelmed pipeline capacity and dropped gas prices this year to a projected $1.43 per gigajoule, about one-third of the price in 2014, said Archer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub spot price is forecast to average US$3.17 per GJ in 2018 (about C$4.12), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Pipeline companies are spending billions of dollars to expand their gas systems in B.C. and Alberta, which will improve market access, but it’s difficult to see where the gas can be sent to win better prices, Archer said.

LNG Canada’s first phase is expected to require about two billion cf/d of gas to produce about 14 million tonnes per year of LNG, but most of that gas is expected to come from the partners, so a big price improvement isn’t expected, he said.

READ MORE: Former B.C. premier Christy Clark says she doesn’t care who gets credit for delivering LNG

The best hope of better prices is stronger demand from additional LNG facilities, conversions of coal-burning power plants to gas and more growth in the oilsands, where natural gas is used to produce steam and power, Archer said.

Mike Rose, CEO of Tourmaline Oil Corp., says his Calgary-based company froze gas production at about 1.35 billion cf/d at the end of 2017 because of low prices and has switched its focus since to oil production growth.

Gas marketing is more important than ever, he said, as Tourmaline tries to move more gas to any hub that offers better prices than those in Alberta or B.C.

“It’s the most challenging time that I’ve ever seen in the Canadian oil and gas sector by a long shot.”

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Canadian wireless prices down, still higher than most G7 countries

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An annual snapshot of telecom services taken for the federal government shows a year-over-year decline in Canadian wireless prices but, as usual, concludes that most G7 countries had less expensive packages.

« While progress is being made, prices in Canada remain expensive compared to other nations, » the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), which commissioned the study, said in a statement.

For example, Canadian plans with two gigabytes per month of data cost an average of $75.44 per month when the 2018 survey was conducted in June and July, down from $81.61 per month in 2017.

The study also compares higher and lower levels of service, but wireless plans with 2 GB of data are a good benchmark because they reflect the usage patterns of many Canadians.

The report found the average price in four midsized American cities was nearly 20 per cent lower than the Canadian average, at $61.26 for plans with 2 GB of data on a currency-adjusted basis.

Prices for 2 GB plans were even lower in Berlin ($45.80), Paris ($30.91), London ($26.56), and Rome ($21.11). Only Tokyo was more expensive at $81.52 — the only city studied that showed a year-over-year increase.

In Australia — the only non-G7 country covered by the annual study — the currency-adjusted price of $24.70 in Sydney was less than one-third the Canadian average price for a Level 4 service that includes 2 GB of data.

The study segmented the wireless market into six levels of service. Level 1 — with only talking time and no text or data — cost an average of $25.73, and Level 6  — feature-rich family plans with at least 10 GB of shared data — costing an average of $227.87 per month.

Wireless industry outlines study’s shortcomings

Key players in Canada’s wireless industry, however, argue there have been serious shortcomings with the annual study, prepared for the federal government since 2008.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which represents most of the country’s major carriers, said that it’s pleased that ISED recognizes that prices for wireless services are coming down in Canada.

« We remain concerned, however, that this study doesn’t provide an accurate comparison of wireless services between countries given it doesn’t take into account the many, many different promotions offered by Canada’s service providers as they vigorously compete for customers, » CWTA said in an email statement.

While the study also compares higher and lower levels of service, wireless plans with 2 GB of data are a good benchmark because they reflect the usage patterns of many Canadians. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

Similarly, a report from NERA Economic Consulting, commissioned by Telus Corp., which isn’t a CWTA member, argues that the official Canadian study is poorly designed and subject to incorrect interpretations.

« It really makes very little sense because it compares [the prices of] entirely different plans, » NERA managing director Christian Dippon said in an interview, prior to ISED’s release of this year’s report.

Dippon reached that conclusion after examining earlier reports prepared from 2008 through 2017 by either Wall or the Nordicity Group, using parameters set by either the government or the federal telecom regulator.

The NERA study proposes an alternative methodology that compares Canadian plans to a benchmark that purports to measure how much international providers would charge for the same level of service.

According to NERA, 89 of 111 Canadian mobile wireless plans in its sample were below their international benchmark.

The press secretary for ISED Minister Navdeep Bains said he wasn’t available to comment on the report Friday.

In a statement, Bains said: « We’re working hard to bring down the cost of cellphone plans. And while we’re making progress, our government remains focused on promoting greater competition in the telecom sector to drive down prices for Canadians, while making sure they can also benefit from the latest technology and high-quality services. »

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