THUNDER BAY – As the MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, I have been a strong advocate for improving Internet access in rural communities at the cabinet table. I know how important it is to improve the quality, coverage, and price of telecommunications services for Canadians no matter where they live.
As many people have told me, access to high speed, reliable internet is increasingly essential to participate in everyday activities like paying bills, finding and using public services, and keeping in touch with family and friends.
Our investments to expand broadband over the past three years have already shown early results in increased competition, affordability, better matches with consumer needs and innovation but there is more to do to make sure all Canadians have access to reliable and affordable internet.
The Connect to Innovate program, launched in 2017, has improved connectivity in many rural, remote, and northern communities. As of March 2019, 180 projects have been approved, which will improve connectivity in more than 900 communities across the country—more than three times the number of communities originally thought to benefit!
We also introduced the Connecting Families program, which supports Internet Service Providers to voluntarily provide low-cost internet service to low-income families for just $10 per month. This program has helped thousands of Canadian families afford internet access at home.
But too many people still face unacceptable significant gaps in reliability and connection speed. To change that, Budget 2019 announced a national target to ensure 95 percent of Canadian homes and businesses have access to high-speed connections by 2026, expanding to 100 percent coverage by 2030.
The budget outlines our commitment to deliver an additional $6 billion in investments to support rural broadband by:
- increasing funding for Connect to Innovate and introducing a new Universal Broadband Fund;
- securing advanced Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity to connect the most rural and remote regions of Canada;
- working with our provincial and territorial partners and arm’s length organizations like the CRTC; and
- leveraging greater investments from the private sector.
As an MP for many rural communities that need equitable access to high-speed Internet, I will continue to push for investments in Northwestern Ontario that increase our region’s ability to participate fully and fairly in the digital economy.
Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North