RURAL INTERNET REPORT CRITICIZES FEDS
Too many people in Canada’s rural regions lack quality Internet access, according to a report by the federal auditor-general who says the government needs to work harder to remedy the situation.
"It's very timely," said David Fell, chief executive officer for the Eastern Ontario Rural Network project (EORN) about the report). "This is a crystallizing moment for the federal government." Michael Ferguson, auditor-general for Canada, released a report November 20, In which he criticized the federal government for falling to develop a national broadband strategy, to help guide it and the provincial governments In improving Internet access for both urban and rural regions In the country. Ferguson argued that quality broadband access is necessary to allow Canadian bush nesses, both large and small, to compete in the global market where regular online access for buying, selling, marketing, and re-searching is now key to commercial success. The rural sector, Ferguson noted, is falling behind on the information Superhighway. "Access to reliable and high-quality Inter-net service enables Canadians to participate In the 21u-century economy and have better access to health care and education; stated Ferguson In his report. "This access also allows people in rural areas to connect with services that otherwise might be available only in urban areas. Ferguson's critical comments included both the current Trudeau Liberal govern-ment and the previous Harper Conservative government. He noted that a Telecommunica-tions Policy Review Panel report in 2006 high-lighted the need for a national broadband strategy. He credited the Liberal government with trying to address the Issue of rural broadband Improvement with programs like the Connect to Innovate fund but said It was still not enough. Fell credited both Ferguson and Navdeep Bains, Federal innovation, Science and Eco-nomic development minister, with recognizing the importance of rural broadband service and the need for a national strategy to keep all regions of Canada up to speed with the rest of the global market. He noted that the recent federal economic profile Includes a brief mention of more funding for broadband Improvement. 'The next thing to determine Is 'where's the money?'" Fell said. "But first they do need a strategy before they start to allocate money."