My initial reaction to this was disappointment, but after comparing with Bell Fibe and Telus Optik options I'm not sure we have it that bad.
I did a very quick and dirty comparison of the cost of PVR rental, basic, and the equivalent of 9 theme groups with their HD channels and this is what I found. Note that this was not an exhaustive comparison, just a rough check based on the websites. I tried to use non-bundle pricing but Bell doesn't seem to make that available. I also consider the themes to be roughly equivalent, I did not compare each and every channel included.
PVR Rental: $5
9 Themes: $20
HD: $13 (for Starter, Discovery, and Sports)
PVR Rental: $20 (you can also purchase but that is not an option for MTS)
Choice (7 Themes): $62
Guess at 2 additional themes: $10
PVR Rental: $15 (I purposely did not count the free rental on 3 year term, since MTS has no terms)
Your Pick HD (9 themes): $75
So MTS is the cheapest, and still the cheapest if we need to add the new $4 HD theme.
I do find it annoying that you need to pick the HD themes separately and prefer the way Bell and Telus include the HD channels right in the theme, but that seems to come at a cost.