A woman in her 60s in a rural Manitoba town has just been told she will have to pay up to $1,200 for a phone line.
It’s the first time the provincial government has been forced to offer refunds for phone lines it doesn’t own.
The phone line that started the whole saga is called the Fairphone line.
The woman is paying $724 per month for the line.
She’s only got one phone line, which has a 3G connection.
“I am just trying to get a grip,” she said.
The phone line is part of a government initiative to encourage rural residents to switch to 3G networks.
People in the province pay $100 per month to switch over.
The program also provides an additional $20 per month in subsidy to help pay for the new lines.
The province says it can’t be responsible for people who don’t switch, and that the program has no legal authority to force people to switch.
The line is owned by Telus, the company that owns Rogers, which is owned in part by BCE, the nation’s largest telecommunications company.
Telus, BCE and the province have been fighting a long-running dispute over whether the Fairphones were a subsidy.
They’re currently in court, and it’s unclear when they’ll be resolved.
The Fairphone program, however, is not a subsidy, the government says.
“If you are going to pay more for a service than you are getting, you have to justify that,” Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said in a statement.
“We can’t just go ahead and say, ‘Well, we’ll give you this subsidy.’
We need to be clear about what is a subsidy.”
The province has said it’s not trying to coerce people to move.
It says it’s simply trying to offer people an option, even though it has to reimburse people for some of the cost.
The subsidy isn’t enough to cover the costs of the line, however.
The provincial government says it’ll refund people who are stuck on the line after it’s paid off, but only if they can prove that they are paying the full amount of the subsidy.