Today’s digital economy means affordable, reliable access to consistent high-speed internet is a determinant to economic productivity, and individual equality of opportunity. Despite the CRTC designating broadband as an essential service more than 5 years ago, many Canadians in rural and remote regions still do not have consistent access to this essential service.

This issue is of particular concern in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, and has been exacerbated by COVID-19. The rural/urban divide will only grow larger with the installation of even faster 5G networks in urban Canada. Many rural Canadians do not even meet the CRTC speed benchmark of a 50 megabytes per second (MBPS) download speed, and a 10 MBPS upload speed.

Despite a commitment to fix this issue, the Liberals have failed to achieve universal network access. Given the urgency of the situation, with so many Canadians are now required to work and attend school from home, bold action is needed now.

Canada’s telecommunications’ industry landscape is not competitive enough to incentivize the market to increase speed and access. This is evidenced by the fact that investments in rural broadband by successive governments, and incumbent providers over nearly two decades have not solved the problem. Investment is needed, but first the system and the regulatory environment need to change.

It is why Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to outline a concrete action plan to address this issue. This plan needs to connect all Canadians by 2021, at the speed benchmark that has been set by CRTC.

Our Conservative caucus has come together to develop some initial recommendations to help achieve this. Conservative MPs will be consulting with our communities. I encourage residents to read the recommendations, and share their views at cherylgallant.com/rural-internet-consultations.

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