With all the talk of getting high speed Internet established across the province there is another communications barrier that should be attended to with equal urgency.
Did you know in this day
and age of the ubiquitous cell phone that there are still a large number of
your neighbours with landlines … and that many of them cannot afford extra
charges to give them a discount long distance calling plan service?
Cell phone users have the
benefit of calling toll free from Charlottetown through to all corners of Kings
County; however, many rural residents with landlines do not have the same
cost-free privilege. Similar challenges exist in Prince County.
competition on P.E.I. today from many communication providers, only one company
provides landline phone service right across the province. Having such a phone
service monopoly hurts rural residents.
With all the hard-wired
technology in place - all long-since paid for - many rural Islanders face daily
living costs their urban counterparts do not.
For example, in Kings
County, landline folks in exchanges 687 and 961 have to pay long distance to
call a business, hospital or even a government service centre in Montague.
This is simply unacceptable
in 2017. It's a barrier for communication between friends and family members,
and an extra cost to do rural Island business. Just ask the fellow who operates
a home-based vehicle repair shop in St. Peters, about the hoops he jumps
through to keep costs down in his one man garage business. Instead of calling
his regular suppliers in Montague and incurring lost distance charges, which he
must do several times a day, he calls Charlottetown toll free and asks an
associated business to see if what he needs is in stock in the Kings County
A young, casual, resident
care worker living with her elderly parents on the family farm in Strathcona is
looking for work, but is hesitant use their landline to phone the manor every
day in search of badly needed shifts. She knows it will cost her parents money
they don't have. Underemployed individuals in similar positions in
Charlottetown or Summerside do not have these expenses.
Many Canadian geographical
areas greater in size than all of Prince Edward Island are wholly accessible
toll free via landlines.
Getting rid of
long-distance charges across the province would encourage small businesses to
call around the Island before incurring costs calling the mainland, and end
this current barrier imposed on rural economic activity.
Further, such an initiative
would not cost government a dime.
To achieve Island-wide toll
free dialing, all that needs to be done is to strike a deal with Bell Aliant. A
very small increase to all P.E.I. phone bills would replace the forfeited long
- Ray Brow of Georgetown