Bell blasted for taking $122M Labour subsidy while boosting dividends

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Bell Canada took a beating from members of parliament this week on several fronts, from its decision to cut rural network investment to the inordinate number of customer complaints it receives.

But the biggest item in MPs’ crosshairs was Bell’s confirmation that it has taken $122 million in pandemic-related labour subsidies despite posting strong financial results and boosting dividend payouts to shareholders.

Along with several other big telecom companies in 2020, Bell availed itself of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal program that covers a portion of employees’ salaries in order to keep those workers from being laid off. The company also raised quarterly dividends throughout the year and is expected to again increase its fourth-quarter payout.

Nate Erskine-Smith, Liberal MP for Beaches-East York in Toronto and a member of the standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, was pointed in his questions for Robert Malcolmson, Bell’s chief legal and regulatory officer. Here’s the exchange, with embedded video below:


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