Ottawa, ON – Rick Perkins, Conservative Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, Dan Mazier, Conservative Shadow Minister for Rural Economic Development and Connectivity, and Richard Lehoux, Associate Conservative Shadow Minister for Agriculture, released the following statement on Justin Trudeau’s failure to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural Canada:
“After eight years of Justin Trudeau, a digital divide still exists in Canada for rural and remote Canadians and First Nations communities. The Auditor General today confirmed that over one million homes in rural Canada and the majority of First Nations communities still don’t have access to high-speed internet.
“Despite multiple government strategies and billions of dollars in taxpayer funded announcements, the Trudeau Government has failed to connect Canadians with access to high-speed, affordable internet and cellular services in rural, remote, and Northern Canada.
“In the digital age, access to the internet is now a necessity, not a luxury. Conservatives agree with the Auditor General that ‘Without access to fast, reliable, and affordable high-speed Internet and mobile cellular services, people residing in remote communities do not have the same opportunities as people residing in more urban areas.’
“As the cost of internet and cellular service continues to make life unaffordable for Canadians, we also learned that the government ‘did not include any national indicators or targets to evaluate whether its affordability outcomes were being achieved.’ And as the Auditor General said, ‘Connectivity, if unaffordable or of poor quality, is no more of an improvement to the lives of Canadians living on First Nations reserves or in rural and remote areas than having no connectivity at all.’
“And the failure goes beyond just internet access. This government has completely neglected improving cellular services. Access to reliable cellular services is important to the economic future of rural areas and the public safety of Canadians, but the Auditor General confirmed that the Liberals’ connectivity strategy contained ‘no targets or timelines’ for improving cellular services across Canada.
“Conservatives are calling on Justin Trudeau to take real action to end the digital divide in Canada. Announcing complicated bureaucratic programs will not connect Canadians. What is needed is concrete action, infrastructure, and competition to bring affordable high speed internet and cellular services to all Canadians.”