The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program was meant to help struggling small businesses and their employees during the COVID-19 crisis — and it has helped hundreds of those businesses stay afloat through a cataclysmic year.
It should NEVER have been used to pad Big Telecom’s pockets, or let them actually increase their payouts to their shareholders, in a year where income inequality was skyrocketing. But that’s exactly what happened.3
Collectively, Rogers, Bell and Telus grabbed up close to a quarter-billion dollars from the CEWS program.4 Telus turned around and increased their payouts to investors. Rogers laid people off while counting their free money. Bell did both. All of them turned huge profits last year, and each greedily took millions in emergency relief money when they didn’t need it — on the public’s dime!5-7
Financial experts say most shareholders should understandably have been prepared to see payouts decrease in 2020.8 But emergency public funds were actually used to drive those payouts up!
It’s an open demonstration in how Big Telecom treats government funds more generally: like an endless well of free money they can keep exploiting, with little regard for the money’s intended purpose to help Canadians.
That’s all they believe they owe to Canada. And Bell CEO Mirko Bibic has made clear it will never, ever stop. At a 2020 CRTC hearing, he said: “One of the things we have to deliver on is growing that free cashflow to deliver the dividend, and to grow the dividend, and we will do it every single time.”9
Makes you wonder: what’s stopping Big Telecom from treating the federal government’s $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund exactly like they’ve treated CEWS? 🤔
Enough is enough. Step 1 of holding these shameful, abusive telecom giants accountable starts right now.
Add your name to the petition: demand Big Telecom immediately pay back the hundreds of millions of dollars they abusively collected from the federal emergency wage subsidy!