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Fareau and Capay v. Bell Canada and Ontario

March 03, 2023

Consumer Protection Class Action

What this class action is about

Goldblatt Partners LLP has commenced a class action against Bell Canada and the province of Ontario on behalf of all persons currently or formerly incarcerated in an Ontario correctional facility, and all persons in Canada who accepted and paid for a collect call originating from a person incarcerated in an Ontario correctional facility.

Pursuant to provincial policy and a contract between Bell Canada and Ontario, Bell Canada is the exclusive provider of telephone services for incarcerated persons in Ontario correctional facilities. Bell Canada and Ontario provide only one option for placing telephone calls from correctional facilities in Ontario: collect calls to landlines at exorbitant prices for anyone who accepts the calls. If the phone call is a long-distance phone call, it costs in excess of $30.00. The maximum length of call for any phone call is 20 minutes.

On behalf of the Class, the Representative Plaintiffs allege that, contrary to Ontario’s consumer protection and other laws, Bell Canada and the province extracted exorbitant fees from individuals placing and accepting telephone calls from Ontario correctional facilities.

The proposed class consists of:

  • All persons in Canada who accepted and paid for a collect call originating from a person in custody or otherwise in an Ontario correctional facility after June 1, 2013; and,
  • All persons serving custodial sentences; detained on remand, awaiting trial or sentencing; awaiting transfer to a federal correctional facility; or, any other person incarcerated at a correctional facility in Ontario after June 1, 2013 whose option for making a phone call was through Bell Canada’s Offender Telephone Management System.

If you believe you are a member of the proposed class, please contact Jody Brown or Kirsten Mercer (contact information in the links below).

The next steps in this case will be to seek financial support from the Class Proceedings Fund and to seek an order from the court to certify it as a class action.

You can read the amended statement of claim here.

Read this May 2023 TVOToday article and this May 2023 CBC article about the class action. You can also listen to our podcast on this issue here.


May 3, 2023 – Court of Appeal partially allows plaintiffs’ appeal

The plaintiffs were partially successful in their appeal of Justice Perell’s decision to permanently stay the plaintiffs’ claim.  The Court of Appeal substituted the permanent stay with a temporary stay, subject to the CRTC’s decision to accept jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ claims.  The plaintiffs’ claim that Ontario breached its fiduciary duty to Ontario inmates was preserved, but is also temporarily stayed until the CRTC determines whether it can adjudicate inmate calling rates on a class-wide basis, and if so what a reasonable rate during the class period would have been.  Justice Perell’s decision to dismiss the ultra vires tax claim was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Read the Court of Appeal’s decision here.

February 10, 2023 –  Appeal Scheduled for February 21, 2023

The plaintiffs’ appeal of Justice Perell’s decision denying certification and holding that the claim is within the jurisdiction of the CRTC is scheduled to be heard in-person at the Court of Appeal on February 21, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom Two. Class members and others can also attend via Zoom.  Zoom details for class members and observers are below [removed].

Read the plaintiffs’ appeal factum here.

Read Bell Canada’s factum here.

Read Ontario’s factum here.

April 26, 2022:  Superior Court refuses to certify class action

The Superior Court has dismissed and permanently stayed the plaintiffs’ action on jurisdictional grounds. You can read the decision here.  The plaintiffs will appeal the decision.

January 20, 2022:  Certification hearing rescheduled

Following a preliminary motion in December 2021 regarding the admissibility of an affidavit tendered by Bell Canada from Bell’s Assistant General Counsel, the certification hearing in this matter has been re-scheduled to Tuesday, March 8 to Thursday, March 10, 2022 (10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).

December 6, 2021: You can join the certification hearing on December 7 and 8, 2021 at 10 a.m.:

Join Zoom Meeting

[Hearing completed; Zoom link removed]

September 20, 2021:  Plaintiff amend their statement of claim

The plaintiffs have amended their statement of claim. The new amended statement of claim is here.

July 7, 2021: Bell Canada and the Crown file their motion records

The defendants have served their motion records on certification and jurisdiction. The motions records are the evidence the defendants will use to oppose certification of this class proceeding. The next step is for the plaintiff to file any reply and the parties to conduct cross-examinations.

You can read Bell Canada’s responding motion record here.

You can read the Crown’s responding motion record here and its motion record on jurisdiction here.

May 31, 2021: Plaintiffs have served and filed a supplementary affidavit

The plaintiffs have now served and filed a supplementary affidavit. The affidavit contains a copy of the contract between the province of Ontario and Synergy Inmate Phones for the operation of the telephone system for inmates in Ontario correctional facilities.

Read the supplementary affidavit here.

January 8, 2021:  Plaintiffs have served their Motion Record

The plaintiffs have now served their motion record for certification. This means that Bell Canada and the Ontario Government have been sent the written evidence which will be relied on to turn this lawsuit in a class action. Bell Canada and the Ontario Government will now have a chance to prepare responding evidence.

The certification court hearing, which will determine if this lawsuit becomes a class action, is not scheduled yet. The certification hearing date will be posted here when available.

Read the motion record here.


Jody Brown, Kirsten Mercer, Geetha Philipupillai

Practice Areas

Civil Litigation, Class Action Litigation