RU­RAL IN­TER­NET RE­PORT CRITICIZES FEDS

Le Reflet (The News) - - ACTUALITES | NEWS - GREGG CHAM­BER­LAIN gregg.cham­ber­[email protected]

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."

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