Statement from Minister Bains on the Auditor General of Canada’s report on rural and remote connectivity

Statement

Ottawa, Ontario, November 20, 2018—The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today made the following statement:

“I thank the Auditor General and his office for their report. We accept the recommendations and will move forward to improve rural and remote connectivity. Ensuring rural and remote communities are connected to the Internet is one of my top priorities. Few aspects of life today are untouched by information and communications technology. No matter their region, all Canadians need access to high-speed Internet to live, study and work in today’s digital world.

“I’m proud to say that our government is helping bring high-speed Internet to more than 900 rural and remote communities across Canada through the Connect to Innovate (CTI) program—more than triple the 300 communities initially targeted—including 190 Indigenous communities.

“Prior to the start of the CTI program, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada undertook a thorough and extensive data collection and mapping process to identify areas where Internet service providers are least likely to deploy broadband services. Through this process, it became clear that private sector investment is focused almost exclusively in high-density urban areas where the return on investment is higher and that rural and remote communities were the least likely to be serviced. Therefore, we determined that we would focus more on rural and remote communities, meaning more complex investments, to ensure ALL Canadians, regardless of postal code, would have access to broadband. Urban areas were deemed ineligible for funding and we avoided potential displacement of private sector funding. All interested parties were provided with access to the results of the mapping programs and program requirements prior to application.

“The primary intent of the CTI program is to connect some of our most rural and remote communities—many of which are Indigenous—that would be left behind without targeted government support. While it might be more expensive to connect communities in Nunavik, Nunavut and Matawa, the time is now to do the heavy lifting; all Canadians deserve to participate in the digital world and economy, regardless of their postal code.

“Work is also well under way on a Canadian connectivity strategy with our provincial and territorial partners that reflect the ambition we share: to get all Canadians online and participating in the digital world. When CTI was first developed, we underwent a significant mapping exercise to maximize alignment with provincial and territorial partners. As a result of our government’s leadership, at the last meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers for innovation and economic development, an agreement was reached to make broadband a priority and to develop a long-term strategy to improve access to high-speed Internet services for all Canadians.

“Rural Internet will continue to be a priority for our government. We are laying the ground work for 5G deployment, including in rural areas, and making significant amounts of spectrum available through upcoming auctions. 

“Finally, we have launched a review of the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act to promote more competition, and have announced an external panel of industry experts to lead this review, so that all Canadians can have better services at competitive prices.

“As a country, we have made incredible advances, building mobile networks that are among the fastest in the world. I am proud that our government is connecting more than 900 rural and remote communities, but there is more to do. Our government will work relentlessly toward the goal of ensuring that all Canadians are connected to the digital world at a fair price.”

Contacts

For further information (media only), please contact:

Dani Keenan
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
343-291-2500 

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343-291-1777
ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic@canada.ca

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