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Big telcos offer bonus-data deals but 3 provinces get better bargains





The holiday season has sparked another round of wireless wars: Rogers, Bell and Telus are all offering double the data (or more) on select mobile plans across the country.

But not all customers are thrilled because of glaring regional price differences: the best bonus-data deals by far are in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — provinces which typically see better wireless plan prices.

“It’s pretty unfair,” said Matthew Warren, of Lansdowne, Ont., who signed up in August for a Rogers plan with 2 gigabytes (GB) of data for $75 a month.

For the same price, customers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba right now can get plans with 20 or 22 GB of data from the big three telcos.

Customers in those provinces can also score a plan with 30 or 31 GB for $85 a month, while in most of the rest of Canada $80-$85 will currently buy a monthly plan from the big three with just 5 GB of data — and that’s the bonus plan.

Rogers wireless deals in Saskatchwan are offering double the data (or more) on these plans for a limited time. (Rogers)

The exception is Quebec where the big three telcos are offering big bargains such as a monthly mobile plan with 12 GB for $64 a month.

The special offers are for a limited time, don’t include a phone and only apply to people activating new accounts or upgrading their device.

All the deals CBC News compared included unlimited Canada-wide calling.

Lots of local deals

When asked about provincial price differences, the big three said they offer various competitive promotions in different regions, especially during the holidays.

Telus also said competition and network costs are a factor in pricing.

“In every market our plans are priced to balance the highly competitive nature of the telecom sector against the significant investment required to build and maintain” our networks, spokesperson Page Casmiro said in an email to CBC News.

The provincial price differences never fail to upset some customers, especially after the CRTC — Canada’s telecom regulator — instructed Bell, Rogers and Telus to offer national low-cost data-only plans.

Unveiled this week, the data-only deals include 1 GB on the high-speed network for between $28 and $30 a month with the big three’s discount brands Virgin Mobile (Bell), Fido (Rogers) and Koodo (Telus). Fido’s plan includes unlimited texting.

Meanwhile, residents in Quebec can get a better deal with a current promotion from the same discount brands: a phone plan with 3 GB — three times the data — plus unlimited Canada-wide calling for just $35 a month.

A Koodo ad promoting a phone deal with 3 GB of data for $35 a month for Quebec residents only. (Koodo)

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” said cellular customer Karanvir Singh Thiara, of Surrey B.C.

“The fact that they’re able to give that right now in Quebec — that’s what the CRTC should mandate across Canada.”

Bell and Rogers pointed out that the Quebec deal is a limited-time promotion, whereas the new low-cost data-only plans are part of the regular offering. 

Competitive prices

Mobile customer Warren, of Lansdowne, is also perturbed by the provincial price differences, especially considering Ontario has the biggest population in Canada.

“The customers are in greater numbers there, so they should have the same access to good deals,” said the 16-year-old, who shares the cost of his plan with his mom.

Following an investigation, Canada’s Competition Bureau concluded in 2017 that wireless pricing in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec “is substantially lower than in the rest of Canada” due to the presence of a strong regional competitor in each of those markets.

The competitors at the time were Vidéotron in Quebec, Sasktel and Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS). Since that time, Bell has taken over MTS.

But tech expert Daniel Bader says MTS was a strong regional player that has left a legacy of competitive pricing.

“This is what consumers expect in Manitoba — as well as Saskatchewan and Quebec — and they won’t stand for anything less.”

In other provinces, customers are more accustomed to higher prices, said Bader, a managing editor with tech site Mobile Nations.

Low-cost competitor Freedom Mobile, which rebranded in 2016 from what was Wind Mobile, did prompt Rogers, Bell and Telus to offer a $60 10 GB monthly plan in December 2017 in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta. However, that deal was short-lived.

Do we may too much?

Consumer advocacy group Open Media argues provincial price differences show that the federal government has to foster more competition to help drive down prices nationwide.

“The only true solution to this is to bring more players in the marketplace,” said executive director Laura Tribe.

A new price-comparison study commissioned by the government found that although domestic mobile plan prices generally decreased this year compared to 2017, those prices are still often higher than plans in other G7 countries and Australia. 

A new federal government report says that Canadians continue to pay some of the highest mobile plan prices in the industrialized world. (CBC)

When comparing major Canadian cities, the study also found that average mobile plan prices were generally lowest in Winnipeg, Montreal and Regina.

However, a new counter-report funded by Telus claims the annual government-commissioned study uses flawed methodology because it doesn’t factor in variables such as promotions, contract terms and population density.

When those variables are taken into account, the counter-report said, Canadians generally pay cheaper prices than what the same plan would cost in other industrialized countries.

It also found that, overall, there wasn’t much difference in regional pricing in Canada.

“The [Canadian telecom] markets under study are competitive and hence do not require regulatory intervention,” concluded the report by research firm NERA Economic Consulting.


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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