Fast, affordable internet combined with remote work could revive struggling rural and remote economies. For this to happen poor internet at high prices is unacceptable. The Trudeau Liberals act as if the pandemic never happened when it comes to rural internet.
A year before Trudeau locked us down he promised to spend $1.75 billion on connecting rural and remote communities with the goal of 95% coverage by 2026. With being forced to work from home, the digital divide became a digital Grand Canyon. After nine months of federally induced openings and closings, Trudeau again announced he would spend $1.75 billion on connecting rural and remote communities with the goal of 95% coverage by 2026.
It is the same funding with the same goal. The pandemic changed nothing. It merely delayed launching the program. The Liberals have spent hundreds of billions of dollars since the start of the pandemic. They talk constantly of building back better, but they haven’t built a thing and have no plans to for years to come.
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
The rural communities of eastern Ontario joined together to create the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN). With funding from the Harper Government, EORN built a $175 million network. It improved broadband access to 90% of eastern Ontario rural communities.
Now EORN has a proposal which would bring 1 gigabit per second speeds to 95% of eastern Ontario homes and businesses. The proposal price is $1.6 billion. To provide just eastern Ontario with high speed internet would account for nearly the entire amount the Trudeau Liberals have budgeted for all of rural Canada.
Rural high speed internet could be an infrastructure project with the power to unlock Canada’s economic potential not seen since the St. Lawrence Seaway or the Trans-continental railway. Under Trudeau rural Canada has been kept behind.