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November 20th, 2018

AG Report Exposes Need to Close the “Digital Divide” Between Urban and Rural Areas

OTTAWA – A few hours after the Auditor General released a striking report on the "digital divide" between Canadians living in rural and urban areas, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, said in a speech at a Federation of Canadian Municipalities event that Canadians need a national plan to fix this problem once and for all.

“Access to broadband high-speed internet is vital to strengthening Canada's social and economic fabric and vital for boosting our competitiveness. But too many Canadians in rural and remote areas do not have access to the high-speed internet they need to access important services like banking, health care and education,” said Singh. “It is time to stop the consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments’ ad hoc approach: Canadians need predictability. Canadians need to know where we are going. We need a national plan that will address connectivity globally with funding attached to address this problem for good.”

The Auditor General’s report highlighted the government’s lack of a strategy to meet the connectivity needs of Canadians in rural and remote areas. This means people in these areas have less access to important online services and have not been told by this Liberal government when they can expect better access. Just a few weeks ago, the FCM indicated this very problem and asked the federal government to take leadership in implementing a longer-term approach to connectivity, saying municipalities and private-sector companies that bid on funded projects need more money and more predictability than the Liberal government’s current approach of announcing a new fund every few years.

“A lack of political understanding of strategic investments has left too many Canadian families, businesses and communities without the high-speed Internet and wireless services they need,” said NDP Critic for Rural Affairs Christine Moore. “New Democrats have long called for a national strategy to expand broadband and global connectivity and we will continue to push the Liberal government to take leadership on this file because it is crucial for the success and growth of our communities.”